(325) 674-2173 sitc@acu.edu

Wildcat Software

In 2014, Wildcat Software was started as part of the Griggs Center’s Wildcat Ventures, a program where students create and run their own small business. Wildcat Software provides software development to clients. Employees of Wildcat Software are generally technology students – students with majors such as Computer Science, Information Technology, Digital Entertainment Technology, and Management Information Systems – and are given access to cutting edge technology to produce high quality work at a reasonable rate. Student developers take the requirements they receive from clients and build out the software to meet their demands. They break down tasks step by step and are in charge of meeting with the client throughout the process to ensure that the software is what the client wants. The overall goal of Wildcat Software is to provide custom software solutions to a wide range of clients, which include small local business as well as larger corporations and banks across the nation.

One of Wildcat Software’s most recent projects was developing an app for ACU Theatre. The ACU Theatre Department contacted Wildcat Software through the library’s Innovation Foundry, wanting a mobile platform that would help audiences look for shows as well as allow for mobile ticket sales. They also wanted users to be able to view showtimes for the current season and purchase tickets not just for a single show, but for the entire season. Colin Blanchard and Holly Buff, two senior developers at the company, and  Gideon Luck, project manager, were the Wildcat Software employees assigned to this project. The WS team met with the client to get an idea of what they wanted and then began to build mock-ups, outlining the basic form of the app with wireframes so that the client could get a feel for what it would look like. After approval by ACU Theatre, the actual development began. The development team used PhoneGap with cross-platform HTML and Java, which allowed the app to work on both iPhones and Androids. In PhoneGap, developers tested the app, deployed it to a device, wrote the native code, and built the app into devices which were then brought to the client. The app was published to the App Store and Google Play in August. The ACU Theatre app was tested and ready in time to make ACU Theatre’s Homecoming production of Cats easy and accessible for students, alumni, and theatre lovers. You can download ACU Theatre in the App Store or Google Play for free today! (App Store:https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/acu-theatre/id1270835292?mt=8, Google Play:https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.acutheatre.app&hl=en)  

Working for Wildcat Software gives student employees the skills and experience necessary for their future careers. Additionally, student employees get to see beyond the technical aspects of their job and learn how a business operates. Colin Blanchard, Senior Developer, said “it is very interesting working for a company run by my peers. I get to be more involved in the client and business side.” Blanchard noted that his favorite project with the company was building their own website. “It was fun because it was for us and by us, we got to make it what we wanted.” Virginia Pettit, Senior Developer, has also enjoyed her time as a student employee of Wildcat Software. She explained that the command structure is much more laidback because of the student-run aspect of the company, but thinks that there is a bigger sense of pride and accomplishment when they achieve things since they are students and it feels more like a team than a corporate environment. Pettit says she loves learning new things in her job and being able to teach them to others. “When we worked on making our own website, I got to mentor junior developers and teach them a lot about the job and working with web technologies,” she said. “I have input on big decisions and I know my opinion matters.”

Wildcat Software is constantly growing in numbers of  employees and clients. Soon the company will be moving into their own office down the hall from the Griggs Center, which will help to establish the company and give them even more tools they need to continue doing excellent work. If you would like to learn more about Wildcat Software, you can visit their website at http://wildcatsoftware.net. At the moment, they are looking for someone to replace their current CEO, Nik Grau, who will graduate soon.  If you are interested, apply today under the ‘Join Our Team’ tab on their website and email a resume and cover letter to Nik Grau at nrg13a@acu.edu. This position is a non-technical position and no technical experience is required. If you have any questions, email Brandon DeLano at bcd13a@acu.edu or stop by his office MBB 256.

Why you should to go to Texas Security Awareness Week

Can you describe what the field of cyber security entails and what job possibilities are out there for it?

Cyber security touches every part of our existence because “cyber” touches every part of our existence.  Cyber threats are everywhere, web sites, email, company networks, government departments, and more.

And it’s not just the cyberspace we have to consider. To keep an information system secure electronically, we also have to keep it physically secure. Data loss by “…and then we’ll smash it with a hammer” is even more effective than a virtual virus.

And the field of cyber security also gets into Forensics (it’s even made its way to CSI and other popular shows), home security, national security, and even offensive military operations. (I can’t go into classified details but offense operation are more common than we might want to accept.)

Have you all been before? And if so how was it?

Yes, we have attended the event several times. In general, we love it. The new information is presented somewhat like a firehose of water coming at you, but it comes with references to help you keep learning after the weekend is over. And the best part–no test!! The students love that :)  free breakfast at the free hotel and lunch is provided. And just to reinforce what we learn there is a low stress contest on Saturday. One year we won first place out of 25 teams who came from Texas A&M, Rice, and other well known universities with good cyber programs.

Why would you recommend students to go to this?

Anything they can do to increase exposure to this topic will help them in the long run. In the old days, businesses had mottos like”think safety” and had safety departments or offices. Then they realized it had to be part of EVERY department. The same was true for quality. There was a quality department and no one else thought that much about it–until managers realized that EVERYONE needed to think about quality and continuous improvement.  Cybersecurity is now in in fledgling stages compared to safety and quality. Cybersecurity is going to have to be part of EVERYONE’S business and those that know cybersecurity will be in a very sweet spot when it comes to employment pay and job fulfillment.

What should a student expect to get out of this?

You mean besides all the free, free, free? Well, as mentioned earlier, this will just give them another exposure opportunity to this discipline. They will get to meet students from other universities and get to know who from ACU is interested in cybersecurity. Right now–and for the next decade or two there are literally hundreds of thousands of job opportunities in cybersecurity.

Is there anything else that you would like to comment about this event?

Did I mention that it’s free?

 

Register Here http://csi.utdallas.edu/events/TexSAW-2017/

Brent Reeves on the making of the Quad’s Light Sculptures

Over the summer ACU sought out a way to combine creativity and technology to create an interactive decoration for the newly innovated quad. We asked one of the faculty on staff, Brent Reeves, who helped make this happen a few questions, but to read even more about the project go to https://www.viget.com/work/lightwalk

 

What made you want to be involved with building the this sculpture?

Nil Santana teaches Art and serves as director of the Maker Lab. He invited several faculty to work on the project that was to “combine science and technology and art.”  Hardware, software, possible blinking lights – that sounded great!

 

Explain what your role was for setting up and planning for the sculpture.

I worked with Nil to research outdoor installations and build prototypes of light-ish things, for example different configurations of RGB LED strips.  We met with the donors, proposed potential hardware-and-software things. We had weekly meetings with Viget about hardware and software issues.

 

In very simple terms explain what you did in creating the app to control lights?

We realized we wouldn’t have time to build the hardware and write the software here at ACU, so we wrote a request-for-proposal and received a bid from a consulting firm named Viget.  The system they made consists of a server in the cloud and 35 computers buried in the ground.  Each computer has WiFi and is responsible for driving the LEDs on 10 reeds.  Overall there are 350 reeds and about 20,000 leds.

One nice thing about the app is that it isn’t an app.  You don’t have to install anything on your phone.  Instead, you use a browser to visit lightwalk.acu.edu to choose an effect.  The server in the cloud sends a message to one of the computers in the ground telling it which effect to run.  In turn, it tells its 34 neighbors what to do next.

 

What sort of team did u assemble to get the job done?

The ACU team consisted of students and faculty and staff.  For example, Scot Colley had to hire electricians to install a new transformer in the quad.  The Viget team include hardware and software engineers.

 

Is there anything else that you would want to say about this project? 

Cole Spears is the first ACU student to design an effect (called “Shimmer”) that is now running live on the system.  Next Thursday, Oct 19, after SITC “3:16” chapel, we will have a brief tutorial session on how to make effects.  So any student interested in making cool effects should join us.

Q&A with Rachael Shudde on her Summer at Langley Research Center

For this week’s blog we talked to Rachael Shudde a Senior Computer Science and Math math major from Ovalo, TX, and what she did this summer!

 

What did you do this summer and where did you go? What was your job? What did your average day look like?

I worked at NASA Langley as an intern in the Safety Critical Avionics Systems Branch. I worked to develop software for the NASA DAIDALUS program. This program’s goal is to automatically reroute plans on a collision course.

 

What motivated you to get this internship? How did you achieve this?

I really wanted to work in aerospace, and I knew that NASA looked for math interns. I also wanted to go out of Texas for the summer. Applying to NASA was a long process, but it was definitely worth it.

 

What was the most useful thing you’ve learned in class that you were able to apply during your internship?

Honestly, outside of technical skills, class and work were such different environments that I cannot compare them. In class, you can always ask a professor or peer for help. However, this summer, no one knew the answers to my questions all of the time. I had to learn to problem solve without the backup of a professor.

 

Did this summer change your perspective on business and technology and how those operate in the real world?

Yes! It made me confident in my choice of major. At NASA, my branch operated with out a lot of overhead management. Everyone know their job and did it well. What I learned is that the best skill to learn is how to teach yourself.

 

What was the most insightful/funniest/strangest thing that someone said to you or  happened to you this summer

Someone told me, “I rewrite my code all of the time. Even if it works. There’s always a better or more efficient way to solve problems.”

 

Do you have any advice for students who might be considering a similar path?

All the interns at NASA I met had the similar quality that they loved learning and problem solving. Demonstrating that through taking hard classes not required by your major is one way to show a love for learning (no one there cared about GPA).

 

Overall, what was your biggest takeaway from this summer?

The foundations of success are the ability to learn well, not necessarily mastery of one skill.

Interview with Nevan Simone a Senior Computer Science on his Summer at NASA

This summer one of our very own, Nevan Simone, had the opportunity to intern with NASA at Langley Research Center in Virginia. Nevan is a senior computer science major from Denton, Texas. His job at NASA was standard software engineering and he was assigned to create various databases for the information the team was collecting as well as build a UI for easier access to that data. Nevan’s average day included getting to work between 8 and 9 a.m., coding, documenting, and testing until noon, take a lunch break and continue the same thing until 5p.m.. In addition to the various daily tasks assigned to him, he also had a mentor who he met with during the day to help guide him and answer any questions he had.

Nevan says that he has always admired the vision and work of NASA, particularly in the astronaut program, and he was very excited to be a part of any portion of NASA’s work. In addition, this job appealed to him because he was wanted to branch out beyond the typical companies that hire for software engineering and to find more alluring projects. To get the internship, Nevan applied to NASA’s one-stop-shop-initiative (OSSI) for internships. This is the primary resource for researching and applying for a NASA internship. Due to the amount of internships available and the great diversity in the kinds of work there, he was able to find something that not only fit his skill set but was also appealing.

The most useful thing Nevan learned in class that he was able to apply during the beginning of the internship was all the practical elements of his software engineering class taught by Dr. Reeves. The later part of the internship required him to use material from Human Computer Interaction taught by Professor Prather. When work was slow, he found the most productive work option was to review Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krugs, which in fact is a book required for the HCI class.

Nevan comments that the internship did have an impact on his perspective of business and technology; his biggest take-away from the summer was that everything operates on a budget. He found it interesting that the available resources and the scope of the project depended on how much money leaders determine the project is worth. His best experience working there was being involved with Langley during its year-long 100th anniversary celebration. He was even able to attend the official birthday celebration where there was a field created to showcase the work that NASA has accomplished over the past century. Overall, his favorite part of the summer was realizing he was truly excited to continue work for NASA once he finishes his education. Nevan said that the drive provided by the nature of the projects energized him more than any thought of experience for his resume or finally making a living.