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. 

There’s an app for that….

I was traveling around the blogosphere today and made a stop at Harrisonblog, a site run by JMU alum and local realtor Chris Rooker (’92). On the site, I noticed a great feature. While sitting at my computer I can take a virtual tour of most of Harrisonburg’s neighborhoods, as if I were driving through them. Imagine how cool that would be for someone moving here from Colorado or Italy. Instead of making an initial expense in traveling, take a virtual tour?

And imagine this: What if  you were a newly-admitted student DUKE and wanted a closer view of where you will live? What if you could virtually tour your room and your residence hall?

Right now — at the halfway week of summer break — a whole lot of members of the Class of 2016 are wondering just that. What will the rooms where they’ll be living look like — and the halls where they’ll be hanging out? Wouldn’t a virtual tour of campus residence halls be a great idea?

At Madison, that may become a reality.

Josh Smead (’12) has recently signed on to a position in Residence Life. Josh will coordinate social media for the office. He will work toward creating a brand new app for the university.

“The new app will feature a virtual tour of campus built for new and prospective students, which will also allow students to see a virtual tour of their rooms on campus,” he says. 

You may recall that Josh and a few fellow Dukes had already done a few cool things with iPad apps. Now Josh is turning that experience and the expertise he acquired as an undergraduate into building the new app for Residence Life.  He’s taking his education and paying it forward in a way. He’s making the transition smoother for future Dukes as they move from home to, well, their JMU homes.

A positive change. Definitely a positive change. Definitely.

To learn more about the app that Josh Smead (’12), Peter Epley (’12) and Matt Burton (’12) created click on the link above. There’s the link to a great Chris Myers (’11) video about Josh and his undergraduate experience.

To learn more about JMU’s Office of Residence Life, go to http://www.jmu.edu/orl/

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