The 20th Annual Engineering Design EXPO will be held Friday, April 26, 2013. All EXPO events are free and open to the public and take place at the Student Union Building on the Moscow campus.
Please continue to visit the EXPO site for more information on this year's projects.
Bringing the Field to the Phone
By Tara Roberts
The College of Engineering's capstone senior design program is designed to challenge students with real-world tasks that put their skills to the test.
Computer science students Morgan Weir and Austin Enfield, who make up Team IOSoccer, are enthusiastic about their project – and they've been overcoming challenges from day one.
The team is designing an iPhone and iPad version of KickShot, a board game created by game developer Aziz Makhani of Moscow. The game teaches players of all ages the rules and technical aspects of soccer, and mobile versions allow it to reach a wider market.
The team's first challenge started immediately: neither Weir nor Enfield owns a Mac. Apple only accepts apps written on the iOS operating system, so the two had to install a virtualized computing environment on their PCs. It's a tricky task, but with this simulated operating system, they can design as if on a Mac.
The second challenge was figuring out how to take a physical board game that can take up a table and transform it to fit a tiny screen.
"It's a lot of breaking it down into the turn-by-turn," Enfield says. "You have to figure out how to show the entire board and the player's cards on a small device."
The team had to translate potential game movements such as drawing a card and moving around the board into touches and swipes that feel intuitive to players. They had some precedent to build on – other computer science senior design teams, including Zach Curtis and Rhys Perry, who have been working on a version of KickShot for the Android operating system in recent semesters. But creating the game in the iPhone world isn't a matter of simply changing platforms.
"We basically needed to translate it to a different language," Weir says.
Finally, Weir and Enfield have had to work closely with their sponsor to ensure they keep up-to-date on the gameplay. KickShot is still in development, and Makhani is refining the rules.
These challenges, however, are part of what makes Team IOSoccer's capstone project a lesson in real-world design.
Enfield wants to work in software development after he graduates and says creating a product for a customer has been excellent experience.
"I think that's been one of my favorite things, the actual development process of going from a design to an actual software product," he says. "Previously, all of our projects have been instruction-based and academically-based, whereas in this one we're based around someone who has a product he wants us to build."
Weir plans to take a different career path – she hopes to help companies audit their computer security system, which basically involves attacking them to find their weaknesses. Still, she says, learning how to create software benefits her future.
"I enjoy breaking things, and I enjoy fixing them," she says.
Team IOSoccer plans to have a simple demo of the KickShot app completed by the EXPO. They will then hand off their work to one of next semester's computer science capstone teams, who will continue taking the project toward its goal of creating a full-scale mobile app.
Enfield, who played soccer through his sophomore year in high school, says he hopes the app is someday able to teach children to understand and follow the sport better.
"Especially in the U.S. where it's not as big a sport, it will help kids understand the rules," he says.