November 18, 2015

The development of SFU’s official app

The student team that created the SFU app tackled a “real-life” challenge within the context of a course. Photo: Image taken from SFU Apps webpage.

SFU now has an official app. It works on iPhones—the Android version will follow—and addresses the practical needs of students and campus visitors. For example, it can help users find a room, locate the closest on-campus bus stop or keep track of an exam schedule.

The app is noteworthy, but so is the story of its development. The tool was designed by a team of computing science students in partnership with multiple SFU departments as part of a project in CMPT 275, a software engineering course offered by Herbert H. Tsang, adjunct professor in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT).

The details of this experiential-learning success story are presented in several online locations:

  • The SFU News spoke to Tsang, project lead Ross Kwong and Mark McLaughlin, SFU’s director of Ancillary Services, about the origin and evolution of the project in a story posted on November 12.
  • The Teaching and Learning Centre’s Experiential Learning Casebook (an online ebook) includes a chapter by Tsang in which he describes his course and the way he incorporates real-life problems to challenge his students. The first-hand account provides a larger context for the app project.
  • Finally, the app has its own webpage with a download button at The page includes a list of project team members and partners as well as an FAQ for users.

The development of the SFU app is an ideal example of SFU’s engagement vision in action—it demonstrates how linking research, students and the community (both on and off campus) can produce tangible benefits.