Study app wins honors in Mobile App Challenge
Cory Woolf had always considered himself a lone studier.
“I always thought that study groups were just an excuse to socialize, not be productive,” he laughs.
But last spring, Woolf joined a study group for his accelerated Calculus II course. He quickly learned the benefits of the occasional group study: “We essentially all got free tutoring and were able to clear up most of our uncertainties,” he says.
Later, when brainstorming ideas for a new project, he wondered how other students on this commuter-based campus found a group of people who wanted to study together.
Now, there’s an app for that.
Woolf, an ECE major, and Brandon King, a CIS major, recently developed the WeStudy app. The app is a cross-platform, global-optimized web app that allows students to easily connect with others in their classes and schedule study groups.
The app was awarded runner-up honors during the Fall 2011 Mobile Apps Challenge, which is hosted by UM Ann Arbor’s Mobile Apps Center.
“With the busy schedules of most UM-Dearborn students and the fact that we attend a commuter-based campus, it made sense to try to make it easier for students to find others who were taking the same courses and wanted to study together,” Woolf says.
King and Woolf began developing the app last summer. The two were participating in the Summer 2011 Ford SYNC Project together at the time.
As they brainstormed ideas and developed new features, they found motivation in the work the other would accomplish.
“I would spend a night from 9 p.m.-4 a.m. working on a feature and surprise Brandon with the working feature the day after we had discussed the need for it,” Woolf says. “Then Brandon would strike back with an even larger feature the next day.”
Woolf worked on the interface and frontend, while King focused on the backend of the app.
The two were open to new ideas as the project unfolded, and they found that flexibility was key to finalizing the product. They began creating a mockup in three different frameworks before landing on one that would allow for a cross-platform app, giving more students the opportunity to access the program.
The final app allows users to browse existing courses, join or create a group, schedule a meeting time and place, and receive notifications when others have joined the group.
The team received an iPad as an award and a congratulatory letter from the 2011 Mobile Apps Challenge.
“The panel of five judges rated your app based on its creativity, utility and innovativeness,” the letter read, “finding it to be an exemplary example of innovation at the University of Michigan.” The panel included experts from UM, Apple and Google.
ECE associate professor Paul Watta and CIS associate professor Brahim Medjahed supervised the team. Roger Shulze, director of the Institute for Advanced Vehicle Systems, and James Brailean, CEO of PacketVideo and a 1985 graduate of UM-Dearborn, provided additional feedback on the project.