The assignment: create a solution for multiple smart phone platforms that will make the daily commute easier for people across the GTA. The challenge: it not only has to be functional but will go live for GO Transit’s 217,000 daily passengers. This might seem like a daunting task, but for six Ryerson University computer science students and a recent Ryerson grad, this kind of assignment has been the norm ever since they accepted research positions in Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone (DMZ) last year.
The six students Jaspaul Bola, Justin Lam, Damyan Petkov, Archuthan Vijayaratnam, Petar Kramaric, Srdjan Lakovic and recent Ryerson MASc graduate Stephen Johns collaborated to create GO Transit’s first official mobile application, GO Mobile. The application, available for iPhones, BlackBerry and Android Smartphones, eliminates the need for paper schedules, locates the nearest station, bookmarks frequently travelled routes, alerts users when they are approaching their station and provides real-time track-level information from Union Station.
“The IP platform that underpins the GO Mobile application is the direct result of a Ryerson student’s PhD research,” said Ryerson President Sheldon Levy. “We are very proud to provide this combination of in-house research, innovation, and unique learning experiences at Ryerson.”
Each student on the team was responsible for a different element of the project. Jaspaul managed infrastructure development, Justin was in charge of Blackberry programming, Petar and Srdjan did programming for Android and iPhone, while Stephen coordinated the project and unified technical implementation.
“We wanted our team of young researchers to experience a client-service provider relationship with this project,” said Stephen Johns, who has recently finished his Master’s in computer science at Ryerson. “GO Transit was an ideal partner for our group as they were committed to experiential learning and developing a great, knowledge-based transit application.”
In order for the team to have the full corporate experience, Rahnama engaged the students in planning and strategy sessions, client meetings, and developing the application’s backend and user interface.
“This project exemplifies the next generation of a university classroom,” said Dr. Hossein Rahnama. “Students and recent graduates learn, collaborate and manage their relationships with an important external partner while developing functional solutions. Our students excelled in this environment and we are all thrilled with the outcome.”
Several of the team members became interested in the DMZ R&D projects through Rahnama’s computer science course this past winter. Many of the principles they learned in that course went into developing the GO Mobile project, providing great hands-on reinforcement of the classroom materials, but it was the business elements that provided a richly rewarding learning experience for the students.
“By engaging with a partner like Metrolinx, our team learned how to work collectively in real-world situations under the stress of hard deadlines, how to interact with clients, and how react to challenges as they came up,” said Kramaric. “In all, it was a great learning experience for our whole team.”