Rooms with a view

Josh Smead

Josh Smead

You’ve been accepted to James Madison University. You’re psyched about moving to campus. You’re searching for a roommate, and you’re wondering if your flat screen or your favorite lounge chair will fit into your room. In fact, you’re wondering what your room will look like.

Now you can get an early look via a cool new app that’s free and downloadable.[UPDATE: The app is now available. Here’s the link:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/jmu-res-life/id631516853?mt=8 ]

Josh Smead (’12), coordinator of social media and marketing for the Office of Residence Life, has spent this year working on an app that will allow incoming students to see what their residence hall rooms look like before they arrive on campus.

“The app will let new students virtually tour every single residence hall on campus,” Josh says. Some colleges and universities offer similar services, but “nothing like this. As far as we can tell, this is the first app like this anywhere in the country.”

Students will not only be able to view a residence hall room, but they will be able to navigate through the 3-D image for a realistic “walk” through their room.

If you follow this blog, you’ll recognize Josh’s name. Last year, he and a couple of other seniors designed an iPad app that allows visitors to tour JMU’s Lisanby Museum virtually and also provides an enhanced experience by giving them access to additional information.

Double room in Shorts Hall

Double room in Shorts Hall

The residence hall app was “a little more challenging,” Josh says. The Lisanby app had a single room to navigate, while the new residence hall app has 28 navigable environments, one for each of JMU’s residence halls. (The “Tree House” residence halls are all identical and thus are grouped together; Greek Row is not included because it is not designated for first year housing.) Plus, Josh adds, when he created the Lisanby app, he had the help of fellow students Peter Epley (’12, engineering) and Matt Burton (’12, physics).  This time around, however, “I had to teach myself programming to create the app,” he says.

In addition to navigating individual rooms, Josh figured out a way of integrating a campus map into the new app. The built-in map function has all the major campus landmarks and will allow users to see where they are on campus.

And soon Josh, ever the explorer, will start a new personal venture. He’s leaving JMU and enrolling in a graduate program at Syracuse University to become an architect.  “I have wanted to become an architect nearly my whole life,” he says, “and I finally had the opportunity, so I took it.”

The new app, which is called JMU Res Life, has just been submitted to the Apple store and should be available shortly. 

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The class of 2012, part 3

Every day this week, we’re showcasing seniors we’ve met through the Be the Change blog.  As a group they represent the more than 4,000 students who will receive their degrees on Saturday. We asked them about their Madison Experience, how it has changed them and the best and worst parts of graduating from JMU.

Peter Epley and Matt Burton

“When I came here I was slightly insecure…..” 

Matt Burton of Chesapeake, Va., is a physics major with a math minor and one of the three co-creators of the Lisanby iPad application. He writes: “In my time at JMU I have grown in maturity tremendously. When I came here I was slightly insecure and over the years I have transitioned into leading research projects for the physics department, making the art iPad app, and becoming a leader in my Christian organization on campus.”

As vice president of ministry for the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM), formerly Christian student union (CSU), Matt oversees all small groups and leads the men’s group, social events and intramurals for the organization.

 After graduation, Matt will enter a Ph.D. program in nuclear physics at the College of William and Mary. “The best part of graduating,” he writes, “is beginning my life out in the real world and starting to make my mark in my field, while the worst part is leaving all that has become a home to me and leaving my friends here who have become like a family to me.”

The robotics team (l to r) Joey Lang, McHarg, Peter Epley, Jed Caldwell

“More or less, sleep is what I don’t get …”

Peter Epley, an engineering major from Springfield, Va.,  helped develop the Lisanby iPad app with Matt Burton and Josh Smead.

Peter has also been one of my go-to guys this year as JMU communications has covered JMU’s first graduating class of student engineers. All year, I’ve relied on Peter and many of his fellow engineers to answer questions, pose for photos and answer engineering questions. For two years, Peter and his team have worked to develop and build a firefighting robot. Given that he’s an engineering student and he worked on the iPad app, I was amazed to learn that Peter has also been a member of the Marching Royal Dukes. How does he fit all this into 24 hours?

“I was a member of the MRDs and the JMU Pep Band for all four years here at JMU,” Peter writes. “I am an alto saxophone player and served as a drill instructor my junior and senior years. More or less, sleep is what I don’t get, but honestly, it’s what I do for fun to get away from classes and homework.”

Not surprisingly, the best part of graduating, says Peter, is “I feel like I can finally sleep more than eight hours and not regret it. I can finally take everything that I have learned and use it to make a lasting difference.” The worst part is “leaving a family of some of the most caring and innovative students, friends and faculty I have ever had,” he writes.

“JMU has helped me really see how I can make a difference and what I am capable of doing, even if it is simply on a small scale. Working through the  engineering program has been challenging, especially since we are the first class, but I think it is exciting that my class will serve a crucial role in defining what JMU engineers can do. Beyond engineering, JMU has allowed me to explore different opportunities (such as the iPad app) that I never could have thought up and executed alone. Music has also been an important aspect in my life and JMU was one of the few schools that really gave me the opportunity to still pursue a technical major without having to sacrifice my love of saxophone. For that I am truly thankful, as I have truly met some of the best people I have ever met and am glad to call many of them my friends for the rest of my life.”

During Saturday’s graduation, Peter  will receive a bachelor’s of science in engineering with minors in math and computer information systems. He will join KPMG as an IT attestation associate doing information systems consulting for federal government clients.

Coming tomorrow: Dave Stevens and Jessie Taylor….

(photo of Matt and Peter by Mike Miriello)

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