CSUN’s Innovative Mobile App Competition, AppJam, Returns for Spring

  • AppJam 2016

    AppJam 2016 gives CSUN students the opportunity to present apps that they have created in a competition that could net them a cash prize for the development of their app. Photo by David Hawkins.

California State University, Northridge’s mobile app competition, AppJam 2016, is right around the corner and encourages undergraduate and graduate students from all majors to participate.

The project was just acknowledged by this year’s NMC Horizon Report as a cornerstone project to support emerging technologies impacting higher education. NMC is a global nonprofit association of universities, colleges, museums and research centers exploring the impacts of media and technology on higher education.

“AppJam combines the best of technology, innovation, competition, student learning and entrepreneurship into one experience,” said Associate Vice President for Academic Technology Deone Zell.“We are thrilled with the Horizon Report’s recognition and so pleased to be able to offer AppJam again to our students. This year, students will tackle real-life problems that exist not only on campus but in the community at large, so we are very excited to see the mobile-based solutions they come up with.”

“AppJam is a great opportunity for students to create something innovative,” said IT Communications Director Mayra Solano. “It is for students who are interested in teaming up with other students to create an app that can potentially solve a real-life problem — whether it’s for CSUN or the community.”

In 2015, 24 teams participated in AppJam, contributing their ideas on how to create helpful mobile applications for the CSUN community. The winning app, Matador Patrol, will be implemented in CSUN’s official mobile app and will provide students the option to be escorted by guards if they feel unsafe walking alone on campus.

This year, in addition to cash prizes, AppJam has partnered with Bixel Exchange, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce’s technology incubator, and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), recently ranked third-best university-affiliated incubator in the world by UBI Global. LACI has successfully partnered with CSUN on LACI@CSUN for more than a year. The incubators will help the winning student teams advance their apps through expert advice and networking.

“This is a huge opportunity for our students,” Solano said. “You’ve created a prototype for a working app. Now what? That’s where the incubator advisors come in and help our students take it to the next level.”

“This year, students will submit their entries using Portfolium, CSUN’s new electronic ePortfolio service for students and alumni,” Zell said. “This way, their ideas will get even broader exposure and the public will be able to pick their favorites as well.”

The judges, drawn from a pool of CSUN faculty, staff and outside experts, will evaluate the apps according to innovation, market potential and user experience. The winners will receive cash prizes and professional startup counseling from Bixel Exchange and LACI.

The application deadline for AppJam is March 3. Participants may apply as teams, as well as individual students who want to contribute their ideas or coding skills. AppJam coordinator Greg Mena will help place individual students in teams.

“Last year’s strongest teams were composed of students with different and complementary skill sets, so I encourage students to choose team members wisely,” Mena said. “It takes a good mix of business, communication and design skills to be succeed in this real-world competition.”

“One of the reasons why AppJam is such a great event for students is that it’s open to everyone,” Solano said. “Creating a working prototype of an app requires a lot more than just programming or coding. You also have to look at the marketing, the branding, the design, the language you use to communicate how your app works. So really, the project itself — to develop an app — is not just coding. It’s a series of skills that are required.”

The competition is open March 3-30 and students will showcase their work on Wednesday, March 30, in the Northridge Center of the University Student Union. Winners will be announced the same evening. For more information and registration, visit http://www.csun.edu/it/appjam.


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