The Rutgers University Mobile Application Development Club, better known by RuMAD, has in a short time doubled its membership, produced apps for local businesses and the university community and sponsored esteemed speakers in the app development industry.
“RuMAD has its act together,” said Stephen “Skip” Carter, staff advisor for RuMAD and director of innovation education in Rutgers’ Division of Continuing Studies. "The students have attracted a large and diverse group of people and are doing a fantastic job.”
The year-old student organization, composed of aspiring web developers, engineers, designers and programmers, has become one of the most popular computer science clubs on campus.
One of its main activities is developing mobile apps – software applications designed to run on smart phones and other mobile devices – for the Rutgers community. Recently, the group created an app for Rutgers’ The Daily Targum, allowing people to read the student publication on the go.
“We’re very practically driven, ” said Nis Frome an undergraduate business major and public relations coordinator for RuMAD. “We believe in utility and real-world experience. When a club or a local business comes to us and says ‘this is what we need’ we build it.”
RuMAD connects its members with local businesses that want to create apps; for example, the club is working on an app in collaboration with the company GoVeho, an online car-pooling service that helps users coordinate transportation.
While RuMAD ‘s main emphasis is app development, it also encourages members to think about broader ideas, such as entrepreneurship and becoming transformational figures in their careers.
“We have a lot of members looking to start their own businesses. Some already own start-ups and are looking for programmers to collaborate with, ” said David Zafrani, a School of Arts and Sciences computer science major and the president of RuMAD.
The weekly meet-up attracts an average of 50 attendees, some of whom do not attend the university. The meetings provide a forum for members to network as well as a venue for speakers and workshops.
RuMAD also competes in coding competitions, known as hackathons.
In January, Frome and several Rutgers colleagues took part in PennApps, a 40-hour hackathon at the University of Pennsylvania. The Rutgers team won second place from Yahoo for developing an app called JuQbox, a digital jukebox for venues. The app allows customers at venues to sync their Google Music library and to browse and add tracks to the venue’s playlist for a $1.00 fee
Hackathons also provide opportunities for the organization to collaborate with other programmers. Businesses have reached out to RuMAD from the connections they make at these competitions.
“Companies see a bunch of student developers and they want to connect with us because, at the moment, mobile development is one of the fastest growing industries. They need to fill a lot of engineering jobs, “ Frome said.