The MAD Guys

Prof Jogesh Muppala, Computer Science and Engineering, has been leading the Mobile Application Development instructional team at HKUST for the past five years. Here, he explains the significance of such knowledge for students and Hong Kong

The MAD team: Prof Jogesh Muppala (center), Dr Subrota Mondal (left), and Mr Ka Wing Lo (right).

When the School of Engineering launched Hong Kong’s first undergraduate course on Mobile Application Development in 2011, it caught the beginning of a trend that has turned into a huge new area of academic, technology and business interest.

The University has continued to set the pace, with the Mobile Application Development (MAD) team adopting a multi-pronged approach to highlight the exciting potential of this technology to students. The team is led by myself, together with teaching associate Mr Ka Wing Lo and instructional assistant Dr Subrota Mondal.

There is now a set of three courses available: Introduction to Mobile Application Development using Android (COMP 1029A); Mobile Application Development Projects (COMP 2521), an experiential learning course aimed at drawing together teams of students from various departments to conceptualize, design and implement a mobile app-based solution to a real-world problem; and Mobile Application Development (COMP 4521), providing in-depth coverage of mobile application development and concentrating on technical aspects.

In addition, with the support of the Computer Science and Engineering Department (CSE), the MAD team has organized the Mobile Application Design Contest for the past two years for HKUST undergraduates, postgraduates and alumni. The most recent contest in March 2016 attracted over 20 teams. The champion app, PlexVibe, was created by undergraduates Kenta Iwasaki, CSE, and Mahian Maksud, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and billed as a music discovery and music promotion platform. The duo also won the best business idea and best user interface design and poster prizes. Other winning ideas included an instant Q&A platform for social media and a platform for transportation sharing.

We MAD guys have also been working closely with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in identifying suitable community projects that could benefit from mobile applications. Several student groups from MAD courses and undertaking final year projects have been developing concepts ranging from a Tai O tourism app, sponsored by the YWCA, to a depression detection gaming app, with LULIO, and a Tung Chung community app, with Kerry Group Kuok Foundation. Further projects we are currently involved in include an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) research platform with Hong Kong Polytechnic University Rehabilitation Sciences Department, a management information system for the Hong Kong UNICEF Club, and elderly outpatient escort services for the Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong.

All these MAD activities are based on the common goals of: equipping students with mobile development-related knowledge and skills; cultivating budding entrepreneurs to pursue their passion and realize their dreams; and motivating students to use their technical capabilities to serve society.