Signal officers win 'Apps for the Army' contest
August 27, 2010
FORT GORDON, Ga. -- Confused by the Army's new Physical Readiness Training program' There's an "app" for that.
Maj. Gregory Motes, Capt. Christopher Braunstein and Capt. Stacey Osborn assigned to Fort Gordon developed a mobile phone application that explains the program, and it won first place in the "Apps for the Army" contest.
"We didn't want it just to be a PDF file or just a wall of words. We pulled out the new exercises and got pictures," said Motes, who works at the School of Information Technology. "We found video for 35 of the exercises."
In March, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson, the Army chief information officer and G6 implemented the "Apps for the Army" challenge. It was designed to "test a rapid-acquisition process for software applications -- similar to what is done when developing applications for both the iPhone and Android cellular phones," according to an Aug. 4 Army News Service article.
The contest ended May 15.
First-place winners were honored at the 2010 Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's "LandWarNet" conference in Tampa, Fla., on Aug. 5.
Motes said he was very pleased with the finished product and its win.
"They didn't have any problems pulling them up. They weren't buggy, and they looked good," he said. "I thought about how much we could have improved it if we had more time."
Motes had already started working on the idea of mobile apps when he heard about the contest in March.
"There are 200,000 iPhone apps and 100,000 Android apps," he said. "Neither have been operational that long. There is an idea that it can't be that hard."
So, Motes set out to discover how hard it was. Motes, who is working on a doctoral degree and has an academic background, partnered with Braunstein and Osborn who both have computer science degrees. Braunstein and Osborn were at Fort Gordon as part of their training and had a gap in between classes. Motes said apps aren't difficult to do with the proper background.
They pooled their expertise to develop four award-winning apps. In addition to the top award in the training category, the trio won two second places and received an honorable mention. In addition, 2nd Lt. Matthew Kaili of Fort Gordon received a third place and an honorable mention for two apps he developed.
Motes said it was ironic that the honorable mention went to the program that was the most difficult to create. It was an application to put quizzes from the blackboard learning system onto a mobile device.
Some of the questions came from the FA-53 information systems course. Motes said he believes there is a future for these apps in the military. Since the contest, he's developed more than a dozen more and plans to teach a course on it at Fort Gordon.
In the Aug. 4. Army News Service article, Sorenson said he sees definite possibilities for the future. "We haven't walked through all the capabilities, but I think this contest ... portends a way for how we can rapidly develop applications in the future, using the collaborative forums to help define the requirements, using this contest methodology to go out and have companies participate, and then build it in a manner that we can more rapidly bring it in," he said.
By using military personnel to create the apps, it can save time and money as well.