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AAA Oklahoma increases support for OSU App Center
Tue, February 10, 2015
AAA Oklahoma has increased its financial support for the Oklahoma State University App Center, which it helped launch three years ago. AAA Oklahoma, an insurance and travel services company, agreed to provide $190,000 for App Center operations and mobile app development through 2017. The OSU App Center is a campus-wide resource for university employees and students interested in developing and commercializing mobile applications and is the organizer of an annual OSU student app development competition.
The agreement, announced Feb. 4, is in addition to sponsorship by AAA Oklahoma and its parent company, CSAA Insurance Group, of the app development competitions.
“AAA Oklahoma continues to support the App Center and they want to see it grow,” said Jai Rajendran, who manages the App Center and works for the OSU Technology Development Center, which administers the center. “This effort would not be possible without AAA.”
Corporate support was essential to getting the App Center established, according to Dr. Steve Price, OSU associate vice president for technology development and TDC director. Price said the center is now planning to expand that model of working with partner businesses.
“We are thankful for AAA’s contribution to the formation of the App Center,” said Price. “With this new momentum we hope to expand the App Center’s services to other companies as yet another mechanism for corporate outreach. In this way companies can access student and faculty creativity to our mutual benefit.”
AAA Oklahoma, based in Tulsa, became the App Center’s founding partner in 2012. Steve Wood, then CEO of OSU’s Cowboy Technologies, LLC, and a member of AAA’s board, knew that the company’s CEO, and OSU alumnus, Neil Kruger was looking for new ways to reach younger customers who increasingly rely on technology to manage their lives. Wood suggested AAA partner with OSU to start a center on campus dedicated to one of the fastest growing segments of information technology – mobile app development for smartphones.
“AAA is a great brand and a well-respected company,” Krueger said. “But we’ve come to know that millennials are pretty self-sufficient and they may not see the same value in their AAA membership that their parents or grandparents did. So we’re interested in building relationships with millennials and college students.”
AAA initially provided funding to launch the center, including buying computers and hiring student interns. The center opened for business in 2013 in the Henry Bellmon Research Center. Students at the center, when not programming and designing apps, answer questions from anyone on campus interested in turning an idea into an app.
“One thing that has been so gratifying is interacting with these sharp, bright young minds and seeing their ideas,” Krueger said. “I have been impressed with the caliber of the ideas and the thought that has gone into their development and functionality.”
The center is a one-stop resource for help turning concepts into potential apps, including possible funding. A steering committee made up of OSU faculty and staff considers app ideas submitted for funding. If approved, the committee awards grants to creators of the idea that include help from App Center programmers and graphic designers to develop a commercially viable app.
To date the App Center has funded the development of five apps. The first to be created from start to finish by center programmers was recently uploaded to Apple’s App Store. Canopeo, an idea from soil science graduate students and faculty from OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, is an app that measures green canopy cover for crops.
Krueger says AAA Oklahoma is eager to continue its financial support and involvement with the App Center.
“Everyone agrees that the center was a great idea that has been supported by so many groups on campus and alumni who have volunteered time to work with students,” said Krueger.
For information about applying for a development grant visit https://appcenter.okstate.edu/or talk to App Center interns in the lobby of the Henry Bellmon Research Center.