UQnav developers Aaron McDowall (left) and Kim Hunter
UQnav developers Aaron McDowall (left) and Kim Hunter
18 February 2011

Finding your way around The University of Queensland has never been easier, thanks to a new, student-developed iPhone application.

The University has just launched UQnav – a free application that contains searchable maps of UQ’s campuses.

UQnav is the first in a series of easy-to-use mobile phone applications which will be rolled out by the University over the coming months.

Students, staff and visitors can use UQnav to find lecture theatres, laboratories, as well as where to grab a coffee, the closest bank and nearest public transport stop.

The built-in favourites functionality allows users to bookmark the locations they visit most frequently, and they can also email a Google Maps link to people who don’t have an iPhone.

UQnav links to other useful sites, including UQ Contacts, UQ News Online, UQ events, the library, plus iTunesU, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube.

An android version of UQnav is currently in development and will be available soon.

Aaron McDowall and Kim Hunter – both UQ Bachelor of Information Technology students – developed the application as part of the assessment for the subject Special Topics in Computer Science (COMP3000).

“I actually came up with the idea after downloading the UQ maps in PDF form on to my phone,” Mr Hunter said.

“A friend noticed it at a party and told me it was a great idea, which made me think they could be made into an app.”

Both students said that COMP3000 had been one of their favourite subjects, and that the opportunity to work on a project from pitch to launch had been invaluable.

“The subject really gives you that practical experience and a taste of what professional developers do,” Mr McDowall said.

“Of the four applications that were developed in our class, two of them were picked up and rolled out professionally.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Deborah Terry said she was pleased UQ had been able to harness the expertise of its students to deliver a useful, well-designed iPhone application.

Professor Terry said she hoped UQnav would be helpful to some of the 8000 new students, who would be finding their way around UQ for the first time.

“Developing a maps application was something we had been considering, so we were very interested to find out that one was being created by students in the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering,” Professor Terry said.

“It’s fantastic that two of our students have used their newly acquired skills in mobile application development to create a product of benefit to the wider university community.

“We were able to purchase the application from the students, and also employ them for several months to tweak the product in time for an Orientation Week launch.

“If you’re lucky enough to have industry-standard skills in-house, why look any further?"

And the experience hasn’t only been a positive one for the University: Mr Hunter is currently deciding between job offers.

“The fact that I’ve got a tangible product to show has really helped my career prospects,” he said.

To download UQnav, visit www.uq.edu.au/uqnav, which will direct you to the iPhone App Store.

Media: Penny Robinson at UQ Communications (07 3365 9723, penny.robinson@uq.edu.au)