Computer Science students team up to develop new Wheaton “cowDuck” app

Tri Nguyen ’14 (pictured at the top of the page) Taylor Wright-Sanson ’13 and Clayton Rieck ’14 (bottom of page) spent much of their fall semester with several other Computer Science students working on a new mobile app for the Wheaton community.

There are currently over 1 billion smartphones in use around the world today. Applications, commonly known as “apps,” cover topics from entertainment, to reference, to organization. A recent addition to this industry is an app that was created specifically for Wheaton students.

A Wheaton Computer Science team, consisting of Anthony Castellani ’13,  Richard Neal ’15, Tri Nguyen ’14, Clayton Rieck ’14 and Taylor Wright-Sanson ’13, created a mobile app during the  fall semester called cowDuck. Rieck estimated he spent over 100 hours on the app over the semester, claiming the rest of his team clocked just as much.

CowDuck is an app that brings five different aspects of Wheaton campus life together into one convenient place: Events, Eats, Class Schedule, Directory and Transportation.  Each section provides basic information, creating easier access than is provided by the college website.

For example, the Events section renders an easy-to-read version of the campus calendar, informing the user of campus events, shows and registration deadlines. It also allows you to add an event of interest to the personal calendar on your smartphone.

The Eats section has a list of what the menus for the day are at each dining establishment on campus. This includes the Loft and both cafés, and provides a comprehensive list that includes details about the salad and deli bars.

The Class Schedule allows students to look up courses in detail that they might be interested in for the coming semester. It also allows you to save classes to refer back to at a later date.

The Directory section includes not only every student and faculty member at Wheaton, but also a map of the college. Directory information includes phone and office numbers for faculty, and class year, box number and email addresses for students.

Finally, the Transportation section allows students to plan trips to Boston or Providence by providing the train and GATRA shuttle schedule for outbound and inbound trips.

The app concept was born when Rieck and Neal conducted an independent study exploring iOS code. cowDuck evolved from there. Although there was class time for the app to be completed, most of the work was done outside of class, mainly in the early hours of the morning during free time. Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Mark D. LeBlanc served as the students’ faculty mentor, but the team worked mostly independently.

“If we asked Mark to help us and point in the right direction he’d help, but he’s also sort of like our father for the project, whether he likes it or knows it or not — he’ll always be the head that watches over the app,” said Rieck.

The team faced some setbacks, however, such as not having enough time to create greater functionality.

Group members  still plan to make future improvements. “I think we did good work for a semester, but I would like to add more,” said Neal. “There’s a bunch of functionality that I would love to add to it with more time.”

So far, the app seems to have met with a positive reception. Shelby Forbes ’16 said, “I just got the app today, and I already liked it. It helped me make the decision whether to eat in Chase or Emerson for dinner, for instance.”

“So far I’ve only used it to keep my class schedule on my phone, but I should use it more,” said Jess Groeneweg ’15.

The app is free in the iOS app store. The icon, designed by Wright-Sanson, is that of a duck with cow spots on it and a superimposed W in the top left hand corner.

According to Castellani, the app will probably make your life a lot easier.

“Download it. Try it out. Fall in love. The End,” he said.