Share Tweet Share Email

New certificate program in computer science teaches students how to write smartphone apps

November 7, 2012
(Left to right) Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Christopher McCord, Lextech CEO Alex Bratton and Computer Science Chair Nicholas Karonis.

(Left to right) Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Christopher McCord, Lextech CEO Alex Bratton and Computer Science Chair Nicholas Karonis.

NIU’s Department of Computer Science is touting its new certificate program in one of the hottest areas of computer programming – development of apps for mobile devices.

The four-course certificate program aims to teach undergraduate or graduate students how to write apps for the iPhone, Android, Windows Phone and other mobile-device platforms.

Graduates of the certificate program must take two of three courses offered on each of the three smartphones, as well as two advanced comprehensive courses that will cut across all devices.

The computer science department began offering the smartphone courses last fall, when it was announced that the certificate program was being developed. The first of the two advanced courses, Advanced Programming Topics for Mobile Devices, will be offered for the first time during the spring 2013 semester. The second advanced course will be offered next fall.

“The mobile programming courses have been popular, and we think enrollment will continue to grow with the certificate program now in place,” said Nicholas Karonis, computer science chair. “We expect to issue the first certificates in December 2013.”

The certificate program was made possible through a partnership with Lextech Global Services, a west-suburban Lisle-based organization that helps clients with mobile strategy, visual app definition and development of apps across iPhone, iPad and other mobile platforms.

Over the past 18 months, NIU computer science faculty worked with Lextech developers to learn the latest details in smartphone programming. Lextech employees donated their time and talents to help launch the certificate initiative.

Lextech President and CEO Alex Bratton said there is “virtually zero unemployment” among skilled mobile apps developers.

“Our engineers know what skills are necessary, and we wanted to help NIU prepare students to be immediate workplace contributors,” Bratton said. “We also see this effort as a way to help our state retain top young technology talent and to promote entrepreneurial startups in Illinois.”

NIU’s Karonis said he believes the new certificate program will attract a wide range of students.

“You don’t have to be a computer science major to take these courses. In fact, our main reason for creating this new certificate is to broaden the appeal of these exciting courses to other NIU majors and adult learners in the region,” he said.

NIU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Provost’s Office and Information Technology Services worked to develop a special smart classroom for the coursework. Each of about 15 work stations is equipped with both Apple and Microsoft computers.

Karonis said is looking into the possibility of offering the certificate program online or at NIU outreach centers in Naperville, Hoffman Estates and Rockford.

Admission to the courses on the NIU campus is competitive, based on overall GPA, graduation date and other factors. More information is available online or by contacting professor Jim Henry at [email protected], or (815) 753-0378.


About Lextech Global Services

Lextech serves the enterprise with award-winning mobile app strategy, design, development and support. With a special focus on the mobile workforce, Lextech helps clients create user-centered, visually stunning apps against tight deadlines. Proven processes and experience connecting mobile apps to external resources (sales teams, legacy systems, hardware, etc.) make Lextech one of the most sought after mobile firms in the world.

To learn more, visit or follow the company on Twitter @LextechApps.