Technology jobs in Canadian cities like Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal are steadily increasing, with Toronto’s tech-talent market being the fourth highest in the world. But despite the job market in Canada being ripe for techies, competition remains tough. Wilfred Laurier University’s innovative online Master of Computer Science program is designed to give graduates the critical tools to make it in the tech job market. The program’s approach is simple and effective: Give students opportunities to acquire tech know-how and pair it with real-world experience.
Opportunities like the hospital app design project allow Laurier student developers to:
- Apply technical knowledge to real-world programming and development
- Get involved in the community through hands-on IT projects
- Obtain invaluable workplace skills that meet employers’ demand for both credentials and experience.
Laurier knows developers looking to make it in top IT careers must also hone the necessary communication and troubleshooting skills that get the job done every day—skills that are acquired on the job. Laurier student developers who recently worked on app development for healthcare professionals got the chance to do just that.
What was the goal of the hospital app design?
McMaster Children’s Hospital wanted to develop an informative mobile app for hospitals that would educate parents of babies with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH), a rare sometimes life-threatening genetic disorder found at birth.
While parents can pursue surgery for their newborns, this is not an easy decision. The goal of the hospital app design was to help parents:
- Easily access all the information they needed about CAH in one place
- Educate themselves about CAH
- Talk knowledgeably about CAH to their family physicians and in the ER
- Make an informed decision for their child.
How did Laurier student developers approach the app development project?
When McMaster Children’s Hospital approached Laurier’s Professor Chính Hoàng to develop the app for them, he assembled a team of six students for the project.
The Laurier student developers spent the winter semester using the mobile development skills they had learned in their courses to create the hospital app design. The team organized into two groups to tackle the different pieces of the project, which included:
- An iPhone app
- An Android app
- App architecture
- User interface
- Data inputting
This opportunity to see a real-world project go from ideation to implementation and completion gave the students the experience they could get only in a real-world setting.
What real-world challenges did students have to overcome?
As with any real-world project, this one also had its share of challenges. The students realized they would be working with a team that was in a different location from theirs. This made it difficult to get the information and approvals they needed to keep their project moving forward. Working from their campus in Waterloo, the team learned to efficiently coordinate with the hospital’s team in Hamilton.
Another struggle was to understand and use the medical information they were provided, and on the flip side, communicate technical information to the healthcare professionals they were working with. The experience helped the Laurier student developers learn to listen, communicate, and negotiate effectively.
How will the mobile app for hospitals benefit students in their careers?
Opportunities like these bring round off student developers at Laurier’s online Master of Computer Science program with invaluable experience that involves them in the community and prepares them to hit the ground running when they begin their careers.
Moreover, developing an app for healthcare professionals in the real world is exactly the kind of experience employers are looking out for when sifting through a sea of resumes. The Canadian tech-talent market may be large, but it’s also competitive with a growing number of Canadians opting for technical degrees. But employers want new hires who have tangible experience, including those entering the workforce for the first time.
Understanding the requirements of a project, taking on responsibility, identifying and overcoming technical and communication challenges to work effectively across teams are the building blocks to a successful future as a computer science professional. That’s why Laurier provides its student developers the opportunities for programming and development in a real-world setting.