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IT Students create new Blackberry application

A team of USF graduate students recently had success combining their creativity with technological vision.

Jeremy Fisher, Naresh Kumar Kalla and Sohail Bhola from the USF Information Systems and Decision Sciences Department, took second place May 14 in the “CA Smartphone Challenge” – a national competition to create new applications for the Blackberry Storm, a cellular phone that offers more advanced computing ability then a regular “feature phone.”

Their application, the “CA Quickshot,” allows business managers to quickly obtain data about their technology system by syncing it to their phone and allotting a certain amount of errors, like dropped phone calls or security breaches, before the application sends color-coded updates to the phones to assess the system’s security level. Red means danger, yellow means approaching danger and green means good, Kalla said.

“This program allows operations managers to monitor their systems and have real-time metrics throughout the day,” Fisher said.

This could result in huge savings for employers, he said, because it lets them see problems, errors and response rates.

The group only spent three weeks creating the application, with all members working together toward its completion.

Fisher, who does information systems research work for the University and FedEx, said the idea to enter the contest came from his Web Applications professor, Manish Agrawal. Of all the students in the class, only the three volunteered to enter.

“This was my first time doing this sort of work,” he said. “Creating a Blackberry application was very different from what I had done in the past.”

According to the CA Inc. website, the information technology (IT) management software company that sponsored the contest, this was the first year that the contest, which is designed to encourage students to pursue an education in IT, was held. It was offered to students from universities like University of Victoria and Texas A&M.

All groups presented their ideas to the judges, a panel of CA engineers, via a live video conference.

Although students from Stony Brook University in New York won the competition, Kalla said finishing second is still a huge accomplishment for the team and will boost their resumes.

“I was not expecting to win,” Kalla said. “But after looking at other projects, I thought maybe we had a good chance. It was a learning experience … totally different from anything we’ve done in the past.”

The students shared a $2,500 cash prize and each received a new Blackberry, courtesy of the smartphone’s designer and manufacturer, Research in Motion.