By: Jessica Griggs ~Campus News Editor~
Xavier’s Center for Innovation recently paired with a company called Foxtrot Code that will enable students to access a wide variety of data sets and create useful apps.
Ed and Elena Fullman, the father and daughter Xavier alumni team who founded the company, wanted to create a space where people can take an idea and work with it to develop an app that can be used to fix problems. This space is especially useful for students who are looking to stand out in the job market.
“The one thing that every employer is going to look for is something you’ve done outside your curriculum,” Elena Fullman said. “These apps, we think, are a way for you as students to get recognition.”
Foxtrot Code consists of three parts: A social network where users can collaborate with a team on their ideas, a development environment where users can turn their ideas into an app and a marketplace similar to the Apple App Store where users can market and sell their product. The development environment is designed to be easy for anyone to use regardless of his or her knowledge of computer code.
“Anyone who can make a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel can use Foxtrot Code to create their app,” Fullman said. “I wasn’t a computer science major, and I can use it.”
The City of Cincinnati has taken a special interest in the project, since students may be able to help solve some of the city’s problems by accessing public data and applying it to social justice and social issues.
“(The city has) data out there called Open Data, and it’s basically a data set where somebody who has an idea for fixing one of these problems, like crime, can look at the data set, work with it, manipulate it and find something interesting in it to share with the city,” Fullman said.
At the end of this semester, the Cincinnati City Council will hold a showcase for students to display their products and potentially receive a letter of recommendation from the City for their apps.
“The City of Cincinnati is giving the students of Xavier an opportunity to actually get a letter of recommendation from the city for an app that they might approve of and use,” Fullman said. “It’s going to come from city council member P.G. Sittenfeld as well as the city manager, Harry Black.”
Tom Merrill, the director of the Center for Innovation, said that the Center’s main goal is to provide students with the tools to be successful in today’s rapidly advancing world.
“Data is huge,” Merrill said. “Data is one of the next big frontiers, and we want to do whatever we can do to equip students with skill levels beyond their majors. Even if they’re not data specialists, students now have a tool they can use to essentially make an app that is a data aggregator that will help the city of Cincinnati figure out a problem. Or as more data becomes available through Foxtrot Code, they’ll be able to help other places as well.”