On Wednesday App Design had the incredible opportunity to visit the Google offices in Boston. Our five groups (Hello World, Instruct, Braction, Words of Wisdom, Puzzle Me) presented their apps to a panel of four Google employees.
The groups introduced their idea and themselves, described the programs they used during the creation of their app, showed a demo of the website that corresponded with their app, and discussed future plans– some groups even presented a video that they created!
As a bonus, there was a sub-group of three participants that formed the night before and presented to the panel an app inspired by the 3-D Printing MakerLab here at Brandeis.
Following their presentations, each team received feedback from the panel. The panelists were impressed by the level of work accomplished in such a short amount of time and gave helpful recommendations about what these teams could do to improve on their concepts and designs. They also touched on some major points that really hit home with the groups, like how to create a design that is both user-friendly and stands out from all the other programs that already exist.
After the presentations, the participants were given a tour by a Google employee. They had a blast seeing the Boston “T” themed hallways lined with white boards and recreational spaces with games like life-size chess.
The tour ended with a photo and a strong feeling in the air of accomplishment. In less than ten days, participants created an idea for an app, designed and coded it, and presented it to one of the largest companies in the tech world. They all walked away with a well-deserved feeling of pride in the work they did.
On Sunday the participants embarked on an epic app-themed scavenger hunt across Boston. Split into teams and handed a list, the participants completed a series of tasks ranging from Shazaming a song they heard in a restaurant to tweeting the dialogue of what they imagine birds saying to each other. They got to reenact a popular YouTube video and a quote from a film listed on Imdb.
Using Google Maps, they traveled to a Bostonian historic location and posted a photo of themselves, then found a Wikipedia article about the place. They videoed themselves performing a silly dance in public using Snapchat. Traveling to the Freedom Trail, they took a group selfie and published it on Instagram and finally interviewed a stranger using Voice Memos about how an app of his/her choosing has changed his/her life. Once they completed all the tasks the participants enjoyed the numerous events in Boston Commons including shows and carousel rides.
Once we all reunited, the group walked to Faneuil Hall to spend the rest of the day, strolling through shops, grabbing food, and enjoying some ice cream.
This past week, App Design went on a field trip into Boston to visit Fablevision, a transmedia development studio. We had the opportunity to tour Fablevision’s office and learn about the company’s work, particularly the process to create a game. The participants had an exercise to interpret one of Fablevision’s game spec sheets– the description of what a particular section looks like and should do. They then played the actual game and compared it to the sketches they came up with.
After the tour the group split up to enjoy South Boston and to have dinner before returning to campus for the second class of the day. Later that evening we engaged in some group bonding, sharing something unique about ourselves or a fact we thought no one else in the room knew. There were some surprises that initiated many enthusiastic questions and discussions. Then, after learning what their app teams are, the participants split into their groups and competed against each other to see which group can solve a human knot the fastest.
With new information about the computer science world thanks to Fablevision, more knowledge from their classes, and closer friendships from group bonding, the participants headed to bed to rest until the next program-filled day at App Design.
Monday night, App Design had a special presentation by Ian Roy about Technology and Social Justice. Participants learned about the MakerLab, a place at Brandeis focusing on 3D printing and scanning.
First, they heard about what goes on in this space and then dove in on how 3D printing works and what applications this process has. Participants had the opportunity to see and touch a wide array of projects that were completed within the past year. These included prosthetic hands for children, 3D printed drones, shoes and more. They learned about the history of 3D printing as well as where this technology is heading in the future.
One major component of the presentation was examining the social and legal challenges that these technologies are creating. Participants discussed who really owns all of the designs that can be simply downloaded from the internet. What responsibilities do we have as people to use these discoveries to better our world? These are questions that right now do not have answers and much of it will be up to these future developers and trailblazers of technology.
Yesterday was arrival day for App Design Boot camp! Participants from all over the country and the world arrived by plane, train, and car and were greeted by our staff outside the residence halls.
Once the majority of the participants got here, we gathered in the shade and got to know each other. We loosened up and let some energy out with a game and then went on a tour of the campus.
After dinner, we played some “Bingo to get to know you”– created by our staff member Christine, met the faculty, organized ourselves by birthday without speaking, and finally had a discussion about what we expect as a community throughout our time here. A day full of introductions, new people and sights, and a lot of expectation for what’s to come!