Computer Science Students Create Fully-Functioning GauchoSpace iPhone App


While University of California Santa Barbara has been embracing the Internet age with GauchoSpace since 2008, it’s just now latching onto the smartphone craze with a new app called GauchoMobile. Four students made this possible with the Jan. 31 release of the product of their winter quarter Computer Science 48 class.

“It’s a class where you have to plan and build a fairly complex app/website from start to finish in one quarter,” said Aaron Dodson, a third-year computer science major who was one of the creators of the app. The creators said that most people in the class designed games, but they wanted to try something different.

The app allows users an essential mobile version of GauchoSpace, enabling them to view their current courses, including links, class schedules and course information. Students can also view and import assignments into a calendar, easily and quickly check grades for assignments posted on GauchoSpace, and see class rosters. Students with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPod touch with iOS 5 or later can download GauchoMobile for free.

Fourth-year computer science major Kenneth Bedolla explained that when he was brainstorming different options for the project he would create for the class, he kept getting distracted by checking GauchoSpace, waiting for his grades from the previous quarter, and often logging on using his cell phone.

“That’s when it hit me,” said Bedolla. “I immediately thought of a GauchoSpace app. That was the kind of thing I had been looking for; something that everyone does everyday and a way to improve it.”

The other members of the group echoed Bedolla’s sentiments about the helpfulness of their app; because so many students use smartphones and access the Internet on them, a website that most UCSB students check on a daily basis seemed the inevitable choice for their class project. According to a July 2011 study by Pew Research Center, one in four smartphone users go online using mostly their phone, instead of a traditional browser on their computer.

“This wasn’t some arbitrary problem in which we had to go out and find people who needed the solution, instead we scratched our own itch and made a tool that we needed ourselves,” said Mauricio Hernandez, another one of the creators and a fourth-year philosophy major, acknowledging how useful he knew the app would be to him alone, not to mention all the other users of GauchoSpace. “Who better to create these tools, than the users themselves.”

“GauchoSpace, while certainly useful, was much less so on smartphones, since there wasn’t a mobile site to let you quickly check information without a full computer,” added Dodson.

After two months, a prototype of the app was ready for Gauchos. At this point, about 260 users have downloaded the app, and voted an average rating of 4.5 stars on iTunes. It is not affiliated with UCSB or Letters and Science Information Technology.

The inventors appreciated the hands-on experience their class provided them with, permitting them the opportunity to create this instrument for other students to utilize.

“Often times, we as students blindly follow classes: writing papers and taking tests which aren’t always relevant to the real world,” said Hernandez. “These classes gives us the opportunity to solve real-life problems by creating tools that will be used by people instead of just writing code that becomes obsolete after being graded.”

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