Engineering alumni magazine launches iPad app

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The College of Engineering's alumni magazine, Engineering Penn State, is now available as a free iPad app through Apple's iTunes store.

John Hannan, associate professor of computer science and engineering, developed the new app.

"It gave me the opportunity to learn advanced aspects of app development that I could incorporate into my class," he explained. "I also thought it would be a good way to promote the college."

Hannan teaches CMPSC 475 Applications Programming, a course that focuses on iOS app development for Apple's iPhone and iPad devices.

"iOS app development provides an ideal platform for teaching," he said. "The students are highly motivated and enthusiastic about developing their own apps that they can run on their iPhones. I value the opportunity to cover advanced programming concepts that they don't see in other courses. It's much easier to teach motivated students."

Hannan's app, which he began developing in summer 2012, allows users to download and view current and past issues dating to 1997.

iPad owners perusing the app will find a very straightforward experience that allows them to page through the magazine.

"Version One is really an enhanced PDF reader," he explained. "It takes the electronic version of the magazine currently available for download and presents it like an e-book. It provides convenient access to all the back issues and will incorporate new issues when they are published. But now we have a new delivery platform, an app, so in the future we can rethink both the kinds of information the magazine presents and how the user interacts with it."

Hannan continued, "I kept the functionality simple in this first version and users will hopefully find the app intuitive and natural."

When asked about an iPhone version of the app, Hannan responded that the device's comparatively smaller screen made for a sub-optimal reading experience, so he chose to focus his efforts on an iPad-only version. However, if demand called for it, Hannan said he might consider developing an iPhone or universal version. He also hopes to have time to incorporate additional functionalities in the next version.

"My hope is this becomes an app alumni, faculty and staff will use to keep in touch with the College of Engineering," he said. "And conceivably other units around the University might want to do something similar."

The app can be downloaded through the iTunes store at

An iPad app developed by John Hannan, associate professor of computer science and engineering, allows users to download and view PDFs of the College of Engineering's alumni magazine. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated November 07, 2013