• Teaching & Learning
New CityU Apps Lab fosters students’ innovative thinking

Christina Wu
A new laboratory set up by City University of Hong Kong (CityU) will create a stimulating environment in which students can develop apps for smart communication devices and produce a series of mobile phone apps, including one that calls on the public to support organ donations.
 
The aim of the laboratory is to nurture more professionals for the information technology sector and encourage students from different majors to develop apps, thereby enhancing their interdisciplinary knowledge and skills.
 
The officiating guests at the opening ceremony on 29 August were Hon Mrs Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, a member of the Executive Council and the Legislative Council; Hon Charles Peter Mok, a member of the Legislative Council (Information Technology); Mr Eugene Fong Yick-jin, the District Governor for Rotary International District 3450; Professor Arthur Ellis, CityU Provost; and Professor Tommy Chow Wai-shing, Professor of CityU's Department of Electronic Engineering.
 
As part of the launch, representatives from Apple, BlackBerry, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, Aceona, Apptask, Cherrypicks, Deloitte, Gravitas, GreenTomato, Innopage, Nuthon, UDomain and Vcast delivered talks and hosted seminars for CityU students.
 
“CityU stands at the frontier of exploring and developing information technology, with a commitment to enhancing teaching and research as well as professional training in this area,” said Professor Ellis. “This laboratory will provide students with opportunities to explore the unknown, create new knowledge and exchange ideas. These activities are fully aligned with CityU’s Discovery-enriched Curriculum.”
 
Dr Ray Cheung Chak-chung, the Director of the laboratory and an Assistant Professor at CityU’s Department of Electronic Engineering, said an award from the University’s “Idea Incubator Scheme” and generous sponsorship from Momentous Asia, Sengital and UDomain helped fund the laboratory.
 
More app training took place at a CityU workshop this summer for 30 students from the Department of Computer Science, the Department of Electronic Engineering, the Department of Information Systems, and the School of Creative Media.
 
In addition, the new laboratory will develop an app together with the Rotary Club that makes appeals to the public for organ donations. Easy to use, the app will be installed on mobile phones. Users need only touch the Octopus card issued by the Rotary Club to activate the organ donation feature. The app allows users to obtain information about the number of people waiting for transplants, statements left by donors before they passed away, and expressions of gratitude by families and the patients who received organs.
 
Another app under development at the laboratory supplements the teaching of liberal studies and English for Form 3 to Form 6 students in secondary schools. The app will be used in classrooms when the new semester starts in September.
 
“By participating in projects led by the laboratory, CityU students learn about developing apps, enhance their future work prospects, interact with fellow students from other departments, and take part in social services that make their university life more meaningful,” Dr Cheung said.