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Sept. 27, 2023

Students develop apps, receive app development training in pilot Foundation Program with Apple

by Mark Johnson

Beginners making their own music. Suspicious email or text message scam detection. Personalized workout and diet plans (with a possible universal gym membership).

Student standing in front of screen presentingThese are just a few of the app prototypes developed by Michigan State University students during the MSU Foundation Summer Program with Apple, a four-week pilot program at MSU modeled after the program offered at the Apple Developer Academy in Detroit.

“It’s a very intensive introduction to app development,” said Sarah Gretter, director of the Apple Developer Academy. “We go from understanding and iterating on an idea that you may want to solve using technology, all the way to having a prototype of an app as well as some functionality and bridging the storytelling around it in order to pitch it or be able to professionally talk about your work.”

Sixty students from varying academic levels signed up to meet daily over four, 20-hour weeks to learn about app development. On Aug. 25 the program culminated in group presentations of app prototypes at the site of the summer program, the STEM Teaching and Learning Facility.

For some students, the program served as a true introduction to app creation and provided an academic steppingstone on their path to a career in app development. For others, like Bilal Naveed, the program was an opportunity to learn more about app development as he continued work toward the development of his own tech company and the launch of his first app, “Groove,” a social media app that helps college students find events, gatherings, parties and nearby bars, and providing information like wait times and cover charges.

Student holding microphone in front of screen and presenting “I wanted to see how things are done with Apple. It was a great learning experience,” he said. “I got a lot of resources that will help me with my app. I got the opportunity to show it to my instructors and they gave me great feedback. And then there is the idea part of it. I’ve had the app I’m working on now for a couple of years but bringing it to the Apple Foundation program gave me another direction of how to work on the idea, how to build upon it. That’s exactly what I was looking for.”

Naveed’s group worked on a fitness app prototype that develops personalized exercise and diet plans. He said the group hopes to add augmented reality components to the app to help users adjust their form and technique to avoid the need for a personal trainer. Naveed also said they want to connect a universal gym membership to the app, which would allow users to travel the world and find a gym to use no matter their location.

In addition to education and invaluable training in app development, the students also produced app prototypes that impressed Gretter and other Apple representatives.

“We often tell students that you can code the best and most functional app ever, but if it’s not a solid idea, then it’s not going to go anywhere,” she said. “Some of the ideas we saw were pretty innovative or creative and that creativity is something that we are looking for in helping students develop through the process.”

Student holding microphone in front of screen and presentingThe pilot MSU Foundation Summer Program with Apple was part of MSU’s efforts to provide some of the training and programming at the Apple Developer Academy in Detroit on MSU’s East Lansing campus.

With the pilot program completed, discussions will focus on whether to offer the program again in the summer of 2024 as decisions on future programming and training are made.

“Sharing the story of that pilot is also part of creating awareness so that students who may be interested in taking this on can be part of those conversations early on,” Gretter said. “And then we can see where we take it on campus.”Student holding microphone in front of screen and presenting

Learn more about the Apple Developer Academy and MSU’s partnership with Apple.