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There's an app for that

SAIT prepares learners for the mobile economy

SAIT's Mobile Application Developer program prepares learners for the mobile economy

It's more than just Angry Birds and Candy Crush — the world of mobile application development is transforming how businesses operate.

"The reality is that everybody does everything on their phones now," says Karen Graham, Academic Chair, Fast Track Programs, School of Information and Communications Technologies.

"If a company is not accessible through a mobile responsive website or mobile app, then people will not see that company as current and relevant in today's world."

Being nimble means being responsive to business trends — that's why SAIT is now offering a Mobile Application Developer post-diploma certificate.

"This offering is another example of how SAIT is meeting industry needs and training people for current technology," says Graham.

Through industry feedback from leaders such as Robots and Pencils, SAIT identified an opportunity to fulfill training needs as the economy evolves.

Paul Thorsteinson is Canada's Chief Technology Officer for Robots and Pencils — a digital innovation agency with Calgary roots. He says mobile applications are changing the way we interact with our environment.

Thorsteinson‘s top three trends in mobile development:

1) Machine learning

Through algorithms and data, machines can learn the best way to accomplish a task. Essentially, it allows your device to become smarter — a concept Thorsteinson illustrates using a chess application.

"The data would be millions of games of chess," he says. "[The machine] would come up with its own strategies using that data."

2) Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)

AR adds elements of the virtual world into the real world environment while VR can immerse a user in a virtual space. Popular examples of AR mobile applications include the Pokemon GO — placing virtual creatures into the real world — and Snapchat — which can turn users into robots and animals using filters and facial recognition.

Thorsteinson sees the potential for this technology to enhance the learner experience by virtually displaying subject matter in the classroom.

"Within five years, it will be commonplace that students can use their devices to view something in the classroom," he says.

3) Mobile-only business

Bricks and mortar businesses may no longer be the norm, says Thorsteinson, as physical locations are not a requirement in a mobile world — examples include Uber and Skip the Dishes.

"In the last year or so, we've started to work with clients that are bringing things like banking into mobile," he says.

A mobile-friendly workforce

The 26-week program takes students through the entire life cycle — from idea to launch — of creating a mobile application. After 18 weeks in the classroom, learners will kickstart their careers with an eight-week practicum.

"We were getting more and more inquiries from employers that wanted to have mobile applications built," says Graham. "We realized there was a need for a more concentrated effort around mobile development.

"These types of programs really fill a niche area for people who are looking to enhance current skills or make a career change," he says. "It allows someone with a software development background to specialize in mobile application development."

You can apply now for the Mobile Application Developer program. Or learn more by attending the information session Wednesday, March 21 at 7 pm in room MD231 of the Stan Grad Centre.

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