Computing students at BCIT had the opportunity to work with airG as a client for a project. The project had its challenges. But students took on the challenge head-on and their airG client was happy with the results. This is only one of the many Industry Sponsored Student Projects program (ISSP) that BCIT students take part in. So, these are real-world clients giving students a challenge while they’re still in school. Through these projects, local and international students can gain real-world experience even before they graduate.
airG is a Vancouver-based company with millions of users from all over the world. Additionally, people use airG’s apps for entertainment, to be informed, and to stay connected. This time, the students had to make Mini-Me, a website that provides access to children’s shows, accessible via Roku app. It was a big challenge ahead of them. But the students were ready. “I was impressed with how organized the BCIT team was,” says John Shwaluk, airG Senior Lead Architect and project client. “They hit the ground running – it was clear from our first meeting that they had thoroughly read the project requirements and had come well prepared.”
“Roku uses a lesser-known scripting language for writing its channels, so the team had to study a language that doesn’t have a large community supporting it,” explains John. “Learning how to program, test, deploy and debug their code on a Roku device required a lot of research and commitment to the project.”
But the students were not afraid. They took on the challenge as a new learning experience. Additionally, team member Amir Kbah said that it didn’t scare them. “We were working with technologies that were unfamiliar to us to develop something that could potentially be a global product.”
Both the students and the client agreed that meeting frequently helped in making the process much smoother. The first few meetings were about the requirements. Then the weekly meetings became a good way to monitor the progress of the project. So, students would demonstrate their progress, talk about the challenges, and work with the client to plan their next steps.
As a kid-friendly app, John mentioned that the user experience (UX) was important to him as a client and the students. Moreover, the students understood their audience and made the app as easy-to-use as possible.
Amir found the meetings very helpful in making sure that things were going well. So, he suggests, “read the documentation carefully and, if needed, develop small simple applications to test your knowledge and experiment with.”
In the end, the students were able to deliver all the requirements they set out to do, and more. Furthermore, the ISSP is a great way for students at BCIT to work on real projects with real clients. Additionally, it benefits both the client and the students.
airG couldn’t be happier with their experience. “The ISSP program is an excellent way for students to gain experience in real-life working environments,” says John. “In some ways, we treated our student team as an outside contractor. They behaved professionally, troubleshooting problems on their own.”
Additionally, students were happy for the chance to work with airG. Even more so that people from all over the world can use it. That made it even more worthwhile.
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