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Publish Date: 11/14/13
Media Contact: Angela Koenig, 513-558-4625
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Focus On Staff With John Lawson

When your information technology team (IT) consists of one person per 465 users, then that IT person has to be able think quickly on their feet, ready to rescue data on a moment’s notice. Meet John Lawson, who this fall also got to put on a virtual cape.    

Although Lawson’s official title is software application developer, his role has morphed over the past seven years into that of IT expert at the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy, where his duties run from troubleshooting the smallest of computer issues (my mouse won’t work) to installing complex computer applications (native mobile applications) for over 65 faculty and staff and 400 students.

In a field that confounds the right brained, there’s also fun to be had. For example, in November 2013 Lawson was able to tap into his creative side by attending TiAppCamp USA, a user group led conference of Appcelerator Titanium mobile app developers that was held in Atlanta.

There he led a team of five other developers in a hackathon, which began on a Saturday night and continued into Sunday afternoon.  A hackathon is an event where developers form into teams and come up with a mobile app idea to produce into an actual app by the end of the overnight event, says Lawson. 

During the brainstorming, his team came up with the idea of a "Bat Phone” app from Lawson’s suggestion of a "Bat Phone,” an idea that has been floating around at the College of Pharmacy. 

The Bat Phone works in this way:

Faculty encounter a classroom audio/visual emergency

Faculty opens up the "Bat Phone” app and completes the one-step form.

A text message notifies all IT personnel at the College of Pharmacy about the classroom audio/visual emergency.

Faculty receives an instant text once an IT person is on the way.

Ticket gets automatically created during this process.

At the end of the hackathon, seven teams presented finished (and some not quite finished) apps to a team of judges, which included Jeff Haynie, CEO of Appcelerator. Lawson was able to represent both his team and the college by presenting and demonstrating the app in front of 100 other developers along with conference partners such as Amazon.

At the end of the conference, the UC's College of Pharmacy "Bat Phone” app was awarded third place in the competition. Future plans involve skinning the generic look of the "Bat Phone” app into an actual app that all UC IT departments can use. 

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