Computer club offers students more job skills

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Computer club offers students more job skills

Posted: December 06, 2010

The Software Developer’s Association student club enables ASU students (from top) students Joe Cowen-Richards, David Kahn and Patrick Traynor to work with some of the latest computer software programs. Photo: Travis Sein/ASU

The Software Developer’s Association student club enables ASU students (from top) students Joe Cowen-Richards, David Kahn and Patrick Traynor to work with some of the latest computer software programs. Photo: Travis Sein/ASU

Arizona State University students who want to enhance their opportunities in the job market by learning advanced computer skills are joining the Software Developer’s Association (SoDA).

The student club’s membership has swelled to more than 600 in the past few years, attracting those interested in learning to use the latest computing technologies and collaborating on team projects.

SoDA is drawing more than computer science and engineering students. History, finance and English and art majors are among its members.

Yinong Chen, a lecturer in ASU’s School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, is the group’s faculty advisor.

Chen says students are drawn to SoDA’s hands-on learning approach and access to advanced software systems that most university computing classes are usually not equipped to provide.

For example, the club has a C++ practicum component. C++ software provides the capability to do both low-level and high-level computer programming, which software programs such as Java and C# (sharp) cannot.

Many information technology corporations want employers who know C++,    but because of time constraints in the classroom professors are not able to teach about it extensively, says SoDA president Travis Sein, a computer science major.

SoDa members are also learning about mobile device programming. One of the club’s projects using mobile device programs is a computer game called “Cruising at ASU.”

The game allows players to choose a “kart” – for example, a bicycle, scooter or skateboard.   Each kart has various capabilities.  The game is based on timed tracks. A player has to traverse from building to building in a designated time period.

In the future, students hope to learn to add game accessories, such as multiplayer capability and story-based game-play.

“The game is largely focused on teaching incoming freshman the names and locations of various buildings on campus to help them get from one class to another,” Sein says.

The game allows students to input their class schedules, and provides them a map to the buildings they need to go to for each day’s classes. The club hopes ASU will be able to use the game as part of its freshman orientation program.
Club members are also working on projects involving Android, iPhone, game, web and C++ development.

All of this “will make students more employable, especially in the part of the information technology industry that involves the ubiquitous computing devices that are dominating the market,” Chen says.

SoDA vice president Jeremy Barr, emphasizes that club is valuable to students with a range of interests in various fields and careers.

“Computer technology has a growing role in everyday life, and it’s become more important for everyone to know about computer software development,” Barr says.

Sein says the club offers “a very friendly learning environment” and teaches students about computer software used by industry, as well as programming languages and concepts that not everyone will learn extensively in computer science and engineering classes.

“We really want to emphasize teaching students how to be leaders and team players,” Sein says, “and how to beef up their resume for when they start pursuing a career.”

SoDa meetings are Wednesdays from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Brickyard Building, at Seventh Street and Mill Avenue, in room 210.

For more information, visit the SoDA website: http://sodaasu.com/

Written by Amy Lukau

(480) 965-8122
Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

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