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Whether you’re a geek or a grandfather, consider a future in mobile apps

Using your cell phone during class isn’t a problem at Tidewater Community College if you’re earning your Career Studies Certificate in Programming & Mobile Applications Development.

Whether you’re a geek or a grandfather, making your own mobile apps can be a fun hobby or a rewarding career.

David Scholefield wanted to have a better understanding of apps so he could relate to his grandchildren. Now he’s creating apps that they can use.

Student David Scholefield creating a mobile application that his grandchildren can use
Student David Scholefield creating a mobile
app that his grandchildren can use

“Now if I need something done, I can do it myself,” he says, showing off an app he developed in class that turns the map of the United States into a puzzle and encourages children to try to beat the clock fitting each piece in its correct place.

Scholefield had previous computer experience, but information technology professor Jared Oliverio stresses no previous design, programming or graphics experience is necessary for incoming students.

“We teach you everything you need to know,” he said. “You’ll have a well-rounded programming background by the time you finish.”

After completing the 28-credit certificate, students will:

  • understand the design process and mobile application life cycle
  • understand the basic of user interface and user experience design
  • recognize what is necessary to be a professional in the industry
  • understand the fundamentals of how mobile hardware works
  • demonstrate how to deploy apps to different devices, including iOS and Android
  • understand how to create different types of programs in addition to apps

Students will create multiple apps in state-of-the-art labs that include an emulator that simulates both iOS and Android devices.

“You’re actually building something that you see right away,” Oliverio said. “The way we have it set up is you can specialize in what you want to do. You can do web, you can do console applications, mobile apps or video games. It’s up to you depending on what courses you pick. There’s flexibility in there.”

Professor Jared Oliverio demonstrating frame animations on a mobile application
Professor Jared Oliverio demonstrating frame
animations on a mobile app

Each class is four credits. One recently added class that Oliverio expects will fill up each semester is ITP 160, Video Game Design.

“Students will get the opportunity to combine programming with video game design and development,” he said.

“The trend in entertainment and games is all going mobile,” said student Corey Wilkins. “As I’m someone who likes to program, this is a great opportunity to get into that industry.”

The mobile apps certificate focuses on making the app work rather than making it pretty, said information technology professor Lisa Carter. Students interested in the visual end might consider taking animation or graphic design courses at TCC’s Visual Arts Center.

Throughout the course of the certificate, students develop multiple apps and have the chance to advance their interest further through the college’s Coding Club. A recent app soon to be available to all TCC students made by students in the coding club contains office hours and locations for each of the college’s professors.

Graduates of the certificate program can find work as entry-level programmers, software engineers and developers and application support personnel. Recent numbers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show job growth in the field projected at 23 percent by 2023 with earning potential in excess of $100,000.

With more than 4.88 billion mobile phone users globally, demand is not likely to dry up any time quickly.