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MC 2.0: New App, Better Wi-Fi and Other Upgrades with Help of ITS Interns

Students trying to find a worthwhile internship will work career fairs, research companies online and make the most of the connections of their friends and family in the hopes of landing a resume-boosting position for the few months between semesters.

For the eight participants in Manhattan College’s Information Technology Services Summer Internship program, finding an opportunity to get real-world work experience and valuable career training meant staying on campus over the summer—an opportunity that also benefited the college.

“We are at a college, surrounded by smart people,” Jake Holmquist, director of ITS and MC’s chief information officer said. “One of our greatest resources is our students.”

Partnered with mentors from the college’s ITS department, the interning students worked on technology projects that ranged from expanding campus Wi-Fi capabilities to designing a new app for the school.

Approximately 40 students applied to be a part of the 10 week long program, with eight of them getting a spot after passing a round of interviews. Last year only a few students worked for ITS as summer interns and in a much less formal capacity.

This year Holmquist and his department worked with the Center for Career Development to structure the internship program to parallel the college’s Summer Research Scholars program.

Like their counterparts who performed academic research between the spring and fall semesters, the ITS interns will also formally present the results of their summer work to the college community.

Much like the summer research scholars, the ITS interns chose projects based on their own respective academic and career interests.

“The department proposed areas of interest such as programming or system infrastructure and let the students build off those ideas with their own desires,” Holmquist said.

Interns Michael Fulton and Joseph Reiss took that advice to heart as they spent their summer designing and coding a new smartphone app for Manhattan College students to use on campus.

“They were really shooting for the stars,” Holmquist said.

Fulton, a senior computer science major, had already planned on spending the summer developing an app for his own personal portfolio before he joined the internship program.

The new Manhattan College app that he and Reiss developed allows students to use the mobile devices that rarely leave their hands (much to the chagrin of their parents and professors) to virtually function as college ID cards, in addition to other notable features.

Using the Passbook program (essentially a virtual wallet) that is built into iPhones, the app can be used to pay for dining services and provide meal swipes into Locke’s, as well as obtain entry to the fitness center and other campus buildings.

“You’ll be able to do anything you normally can with your physical card, but with your phone,” Fulton said.

In addition to replicating JasperCard features, the app also includes a general feed that combines college announcements, public safety alerts and upcoming events into one place for students’ convenience.

Other app features include an interactive campus map that both allows students to see what events and classes are happening in each room on campus and supplies information about the different offices located around the college. Physical beacons placed around campus can trigger alerts to smartphones when students pass by.

Finally, students can even use the app to read online articles from The Quadrangle pulled directly from mcquad.org.

A release of the app is planned for sometime this semester. Before students can begin downloading the app to their phones, however, approvals are still needed from both college administrators and the App Store—making an exact timeline for the release hard to pin down.

Designed to streamline the student experience, the app will be available only at first to iOS users and then later Android-powered phones.

Full-time ITS employees, student workers, Fulton, Reiss and other future interns will work to continually add new features and expand the app’s capabilities even after it becomes available for download.

After graduation, Fulton hopes to parlay his experience in creating the Manhattan College app to related full-time technology work and even has considered starting his own software company.

“The internship certainly gave me a real-world view of the development process and working in the tech world,” Fulton said.

In addition to the Manhattan College app and Wi-Fi improvements, interns helped with the rollout of 25Live, the program that will now serve college’s room reservation and calendar system—something most members of the community have already noticed with the new look of the college’s online calendar.

“25Live really goes across campus and departments and tries to pull together all these disparate processes and bring them together,” Holmquist said.

The program allows faculty members, administrators and student club leaders to more easily book rooms on campus for events based on their specific needs, such as expected meeting size and room amenities.

In addition, Holmquist hopes one common system will discourage the creation of competing events during the same time periods and will allow more campus spaces to be utilized.

So far, the rollout of 25Live has seen successful. There are plans to also integrate food service and laptop requests with the program in the future.

“Usually there is pushback with any new system, but with this project it has been overwhelmingly positive feedback,” Holmquist said.

Other broader changes to the look and feel of the Manhattan College website are in the works as over the summer the college also initiated a complete redesign process for manhattan.edu and the myMC Portal.

Citing over “1 million visitors from all 50 states and 219 countries” to manhattan.edu in 2014 on the new blog documenting the project (mcredesign.wordpress.com), Director of Web Communications Annie Chambliss notes how important the college’s website is to the institution and its image.

Working with the digital marketing firm BarkleyREI, the college is expected to have the revamped website completed by early 2017.

It is just one of the many ongoing projects designed to keep Manhattan College up to date with the latest technology and resources.

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