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When the graduation thesis is an app

The IED in Milan offers a three-year course in Interaction Design. A lot of practice to teach kids the basics of programming

July, time for graduation. Mothers and grandmothers sitting in the stalls, students in front of the commission to present the thesis. Except that the thesis is not a project written on bound paper, but unapp already loaded on Apple and Android stores. It was one of the requirements to be able to graduate: if Apple had rejected the app, they could not have come here to discuss the thesis project, explains one of the professors of the course, as well as the programmer, Luca Infante.

We are at the IED in Milan, at the end of the Interaction design degree course where, precisely, students learn the basics of programming for three years. In the heat of the auditorium, the eleven graduating students (including ten boys and one girl) present their apps in two distinct groups. The five guys who make up the first group are structured for the future, creating an agency through which they will start working independently.

myntOne of the graduation projects of 2017

More or less all the students, after the three years, start working immediately, or as a freelance, or hired by software companies or communication agencies that need developers, continues Infante.

The password of the course: practical knowledge. We always start by saying that it is not necessary to have previous knowledge. They can also arrive boys out of classical high school. To start a course like ours you need a minimum knowledge of computer use, which everyone has, and a great desire to do. We teachers bring them to gradually get to know our world, explains Infante. It starts with the right dose of theory on various topics, including art history, design, color conception, sociology, which is flanked by aintroduction to programming, so that by the first half of the first year the boys are able to set up a 2D video game.

From there the road will go uphill: during the following two years you will learn the basics of html, CSS, Javascript, the native programming of iOS and Android and other more advanced topics, such as hints to the artificial intelligence of chatbots. The aim of the course is to teach the method and approach to programming, so that any change Apple or Android can ever make, or any other tool that appears, kids can have the critical skills to get by., says the teacher-programmer.

asap bikeOne of the graduation projects of 2017

The existence of other courses in the Milan office allows professors to create connections, for example making interaction design students collaborate with those involved in video to create interactive installations(teaching the use of Arduino and more). We tend to do a lot of team work because the kids have to learn what it will mean to work in a team when they leave school, explains Infante.

The two theses presented this year are Mahint, a personal assistant who helps you remember your shopping and ASAP bike, a navigator for cyclists, to be used alone or tied to an intelligent handlebar.

Unfortunately, after the thesis, the boys start working on their own and the apps they have created together are abandoned to themselves. Of course, it doesn't always happen. I remember the case of Marco Torretta: he realized while he was still a student the Amount app, which was included by Apple in the ranking Best of that year and then inserted as a demo in the Apple Stores. It was a great success for him and a pride for us. In the meantime Marco has created a new version and is working on other projects as a freelance, remember Infante.

Meanwhile, in the lecture hall, the 2017 graduating students pass the questions of the external commission unharmed and receive the diploma. The next appointment between late September and early October with the new recruits.

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