UHV faculty member uses popular app to demonstrate software development

ADDY Award 2022

Amjad Nusayr, a University of Houston-Victoria assistant professor of computer science, talks to UHV students about software development during a workshop in March. The workshop focused on the process of creating a digital game and application. The first workshop was based off the word game Wordle, and Nusayr plans to lead similar workshops in the next academic year for all UHV students and community members.

Sometimes, the best way to learn is through a game. After hosting a successful workshop based on creating a digital game and application, Amjad Nusayr, a University of Houston-Victoria assistant professor of computer science, plans to create more workshops so that students and community members can learn about what goes into creating a digital game and application.

The first workshop, which was held in March, was based off the popular word game Wordle and was open to all UHV students. The event saw more than 40 participants and took place in person and through Microsoft Teams. Nusayr went through the process of how to create a program and how to build on existing coding to create an application. It was the first time a computer science faculty member hosted a workshop that was based on a famous application, and he plans to host more events similar to the first one, Nusayr said.

“This was the biggest computer science event in terms of numbers for a face-to-face event since the pandemic started,” Nusayr said. “I wanted to start something that was both new and gave students a sense of belonging at UHV.”

During the workshop, Nusayr went over key elements of a digital application, such as the customer or user needs, the design and the execution of the application. The attendees first played a round of the free digital game to learn what the game needs from a user standpoint. The students then worked together on coding using a technique in software development called pair programming, which is an industry standard, Nusayr said. The students worked to understand the coding since it is important to be able to build on existing code in software development, he said. Students also learned about how to work in a group environment, an important skill that students have missed out on during the pandemic.

Samuel Egere

“It’s not about creating a game, it’s about going through and showing students the architecture of the software,” Nusayr said. “When our students leave UHV, I do not want them to be intimidated by software applications in the real world. This was a great, fun way to introduce students to situations they might come across as professionals.”

Samuel Egere, a UHV graduate computer science student, attended the event in person and found the workshop insightful. He appreciated the approach Nusayr took to break down the complexity of an application in a way that was easy to understand and also didn’t take much time to do. Egere would like to see more workshops like this one offered in the future at the university and perhaps even a website or platform for UHV students to share games they have designed.

“It was nice that the workshop was much more relaxed in the sense of learning, and how to apply what we learn in the classroom to a real-life application,” Egere said. “A workshop like this prepares the mind for the industry in addition to the skills we are learning in school.”

Nusayr plans to host more workshops at the university for all UHV students and anyone in the Victoria community who would be interested in attending. For the next workshop, he would like to focus on a more specific topic and have a more in-depth discussion.

“My main goal is to make a connection between academia and the industry for our students,” Nusayr said. “I want to help our students be more confident when they apply for jobs after college, and this is a fun and engaging way to do that.”

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Amber Aldaco