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Innovation & Job News

GVSU computer science students develop app to keep Millennials in West Michigan


This wasn't your parents’ class project.

Thanks to a  partnership between the City of Grand Rapids and Grand Valley State University (GVSU), a team of senior students developed an app that is designed to attract and retain college graduate Millennials here in Grand Rapids.

The student team consisted of Ryan Banaszak, Brent Bouwkamp, Chris DeNeef, Trent Keusch and Cameron Lewis. Together they developed the free app, called YGR, that features a host of Grand Rapids-based companies, stores, restaurants, transportation, and entertainment options that collectively showcase the community.  The capstone project was developed under the direction of GVSU Professor David Lange, School of Computing and Information Systems.

The app provides the user with a wide range of reasons why someone should consider Grand Rapids as a place to build a career. Community assets are featured within six subsets which include: entertainment, community, jobs, living in Grand Rapids, networking, and government.  

Lange says this class project is consistent with his class assignments and his teaching philosophy, where students work on real-life projects.
 
"Students get a lot out of these projects,” he says. “It's a bridge between the classroom and the real world."
 
He notes the classroom can help refine technical skills, but that is only part of being a successful software developer.
 
"These projects feature real world scenarios,” he explains. “Plans always change. They need to learn how to adapt.”

This particular project began with a class initiated by former Mayor George Heartwell to present recommendations for how the City could better attract and retain college graduates — a class that followed the release of a  2013 study by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce which reported Michigan was losing a significant number of its younger residents to other states following college graduation. The students presented the City Commission with 10 recommendations, including the development of a new smartphone application.

Besides the market research and app development, the students had to complete the process to make the free YGR app, which is available in the Android Play Store and the Apple Store.

Writer: John Rumery, Jobs and Innovation Editor
 
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