MSU alumnus creates iPhone application for students
When freshmen step onto campus, they are taught how to schedule courses, handed a map and thrown into a place that some take years to navigate.
And for students who never have been to campus, East Lansing or even Michigan, MSU does not teach them how to partake in the college experience — at least, that’s how MSU alumnus Dan Kerbel felt when he arrived.
Kerbel founded and developed Spartan App, a free tool for students who want to know more about and how to navigate campus and East Lansing.
When Kerbel left Costa Rica to visit colleges in North America, he said he fell in love with MSU because it had the college-town feel he was searching for.
“When I first got here, I didn’t know anyone in Michigan or where anything (was), (and) nothing really helps you discover East Lansing,” Kerbel said.
Kerbel spent the past year and a half teaching himself how to code and create Spartan App and launched an iPhone version of the application in late August.
Spartan App’s main features include transportation, nightlife, food, a directory of places, events and maps.
Kerbel’s app is funded by Bizdom, an entrepreneur startup company also used by the MSU students and alumnus who created www.coursehack.it. The entrepreneurs actually are neighbors in their downtown Detroit office space.
At the moment, Spartan App only is available for the iPhone, but Kerbel said there will be an Android version by the end of the semester.
Premedical freshman Nyasha Makoni said the app is a great concept, especially because as an international student from Zimbabwe, she knows how difficult it is to adjust to MSU.
“(It would) be a lot easier to find stuff (with the app),” Makoni said. “Everything is there with a touch of a finger.”
Makoni said a helpful addition to the app could be a list of the student groups and organizations on campus for students who are thinking of joining a group.
The transportation feature includes routes and times of Capital Area Transportation Authority, or CATA busses, Night Owl and Lot Link services, along with taxi numbers and car rental places.
When education sophomore Erin VanBuskirk gets an iPhone, she said she would download Spartan App because of the listings of cab numbers, events and food on the app.
“Cab numbers are not things you could find anywhere else all together,” VanBuskirk said. “(Knowing) what’s going on is nice.”
Spartan App has dining hall menus, and Kerbel said he is working on including restaurant menus and a rating option.
The nightlife piece has a list of each local bar, its specials and links to a website.
Another feature Kerbel plans to launch before Halloween is the “Wall” — an area similar to the suggestion box currently on the app — under nightlife where people at home can interact.
They can get in touch with people at bars to discuss what’s going on, such as the line length, whether or not there is a cver charge or if there is a live band or DJ.
Users also can post photos to the wall, but they only can be taken in real time.
“The wall will be regulated (and) moderating the content, so things don’t get out of hand,” Kerbel said.