July 13th, 2015
My Beyond the Classroom Experience has been a perfect opportunity to combine my Human Biology major with my Computer Science minor. Currently I am working on building a mobile Android application that will calculate the fitness levels of people in wheelchairs. To date, the majority of the work has been independent since it is difficult to coordinate schedules in the summer in Missoula. At the end of May, I designed the flow chart of the app with a fellow student, Stefan Riemens, who is also working on the project. The flowchart was to the specifications of our client, Professor James Laskin from the Physical Therapy department at UM. We then met with Professor Laskin at the beginning of June to get his approval on the initial design.
Our meeting lasted several hours, but we all came to an agreement on the first generation prototype layout and basic functions. Over the past month and a half, I have been building the app in a software developing environment called Android Studio. Typically, as with most technological projects, it has not gone completely smoothly. I have encountered a major hardware failure which forced me to invest in a new laptop. After a year of struggling, I finally have the appropriate equipment to program without crashes and system issues. It showed me how many compromises I had been making to get around my computer’s problems. Wow was getting a new laptop a fantastic decision! There are not words to describe it….
Currently, the app is almost completed with respect to layout and user interface. I have not yet begun data collection, data storage, or test functionality implementation. There are so many screens/panels throughout the app that I am working on a flowchart to keep track of everything. Stefan and I need to meet with Professor Laskin again soon to check in and make sure that it is moving in a direction that is pleasing to him. The opportunity to apply my programming knowledge to help people in the profession of Physical Therapy is quite rewarding. No longer am I doing scripted homework assignments with precisely detailed specifications, but I have to motivate myself to take my own creative liberty to complete the task. I finally am experiencing bridging the gap between the computer science world and clients/everyday users. I wish more people were interested in combining the fields of computer science with other fields. The opportunities are extremely rewarding, and despite the hard work and time commitment, programming and data knowledge is invaluable.
Lisa H. Morgan