Pitt State students create app to monitor care of raptors

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PITTSBURG, Kans. ­– To assist the PSU Nature Reach Program, aspiring app developers in a new Computer Information Systems class in the Kelce College of Business have designed a program to track the care of raptors, or birds of prey.

The class was created by instructor John Kuefler, who in addition to teaching owns the app development company DevSquared. Kuefler assigned students with the task of creating an app to monitor the birds.

“I wanted our students to have a real-world experience in creating something practical for a client instead of doing a mock assignment like a to-do list app,” Kuefler said.  

The raptors are being cared for at the PSU Nature Reserve under the direction of Delia Lister. Student employees feed a Harris hawk, vulture, kestrel and owls a daily diet of mice, rats and other small animals, as well as administering individualized medicines.

Until now, the students have relied on recording data on paper. Students now have the opportunity to record information and monitor these processes in a more efficient way.

The CIS students began their project by touring the PSU Nature Reserve last month. Lister wanted a monitoring program that would live in the cloud, allow her to check data remotely, and enable her to manage the data in order to generate reports.  

Lister introduced them to each raptor and the processes she and her student employees use to care for them. The students asked questions and learned more about how to make an accommodating app.  

The students divided into teams and began designing. Soon, one of their app prototypes will be chosen for further development.

“It’s really awesome to get from a class something that will be used in a real, production environment,” said Tyler Webb, a senior in Computer Information Systems. 

Lister hopes that the app could eventually be used by her students on a cell phone, tablet, or laptop to simplify the care process.  

“Having this will make a huge positive impact on what we do and the way we do it,” Lister said. “Ultimately, it also has a huge positive impact on the animals in our care.” 

Kuefler emphasized the value of cross-departmental partnerships on campus.

“It’s nice whenever we can take students out of the classroom to do something hands on and practical as part of their coursework this semester, particularly with the pandemic,” Kuefler said. 

Above all, Kuefler believes that assignments like this are preparing students for an ever-growing career field.

“Think about how many apps there are now that we rely on every day, and what an incredible opportunity that career field is for current and future students,” he said. “It’s a career field that is not going away anytime soon.” 

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