iSchool at CitySquare

Senior students in ACU’s iSchool are using their knowledge of computer science and information to provide new tools for serving the metroplex community.

The partnership between ACU and CitySquare has provided an opportunity for students to apply their knowledge to real-life business scenarios. Students in ACU’s iSchool capstone course came together in the fall 2012 semester to create practical IT solutions for CitySquare. These senior iSchool students applied their four years of coursework to enhance the capabilities of CitySquare and to live out ACU’s mission of bringing Christian service and leadership in the world.

By partnering with CitySquare, Dr. Brad Crisp and Dr. Rob Byrd sought to provide senior iSchool students with challenging and beneficial projects to round off four years of education.

“We first heard about this [opportunity to work with CitySquare] at the pre-session for the faculty and as a project manager teacher, I am always looking for projects,” said iSchool professor Rob Byrd. “I prefer projects over scenarios. I go out and find a real project somewhere.”

Two of the four groups in the class worked with CitySquare to improve and streamline the organization’s capabilities to provide free and reduced lunches throughout the summer to students through funding from the Texas Department of Agriculture. Students researched and developed IT solutions to meet the constraints of the lunch program. CitySquare faces difficulty due to the amount of paperwork associated with the government-run program, Crisp said. To diminish this challenge, students attempted to automate the process through web or mobile apps.

“[Staff] have to keep track of how many meals they give out, so they have a piece of paper where they mark off every time they give out a meal, and then they have to translate that into a computer and send it to the government,” said Amanda Greenlee, senior computer science major. “They have to get it in everyday by a certain time, and it’s a big stress to them, so we are trying to get an app where they can just hit a button every time they turn something in, so it goes to a database and sends automatically, and they don’t have to worry about it.”

By bringing together the four areas of the iSchool—Digital Entertainment Design, Computer Science, Information Systems, and Information Technology—in each group, students experience collaborative groups, which combines the talents of each discipline and prepares them for true work environments.

The senior iSchool students presented their final project designs at the end of the semester for review by CitySquare.