Adan MorenoWith 1.6 million Android apps, 1.5 million Apple apps, and hundreds more being created daily, it’s easy to forget there was ever a pre-app world. But there was. The app era didn’t begin until July 2008 when Apple launched the App Store – the world’s first mobile applications distribution service.

It wasn’t long before San Diego State University’s Department of Computer Science took action to meet the huge demand for a program in mobile applications – both from those wanting to enter the field, and from professionals already in the field who wanted to upgrade their skills. In August 2010, in partnership with the College of Extended Studies, they launched a new graduate-level program – the Advanced Certificate in Web and Mobile Applications Development.

Student success stories include Adan Moreno, who graduated from San Diego State University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science. A mere two weeks later, he began working at Northrop Grumman. Shortly after, he decided to enroll in SDSU’s Web and Mobile Applications Development program as a bridge to the master’s program.

“The program helped me to make a significant jump in my career,” said Moreno. “I landed a great position where I currently work as the lead Android developer for the RockMyRun app that’s on the Google Play Store. The knowledge I gained helped me answer the questions that eventually led me to land the position, and in getting the job done at a successful startup company here in downtown San Diego.”

We trace his journey.

What was your objective in taking SDSU’s Web and Mobile Applications Development program?
I had heard great things from one of my professors in the SDSU Computer Science department about the program and I felt as though I had so much to learn about web and mobile development since there are so many jobs out there for people with these skills.

What do you think are the strengths of the program?
The strengths are that you’re able to take these courses as part of the SDSU Computer Science program and the course material is really relevant to the real world.

One of the things that sets our program apart is we teach the science behind applications development versus just the how-to. What do you see as the benefits of that?
This is a huge deal in our field because there are many frameworks out there that come and go, so knowing the science behind these things gives you the flexibility to adapt to any new framework you encounter, instead of being coupled to a specific piece of technology.

Can you speak to the caliber of the instructors?
My experience with these professors was nothing short of excellent. These are graduate-level professors who know what they’re teaching very well and work very hard to keep their material relevant to the job market. They’re constantly attending conferences and seminars to help keep the course up-to-date.

Did you learn any new programming languages or just enhance the ones you already know?
I was able to pick up PHP, Perl, and Objective-C languages while in the program as well as enhance my skills in JAVA.

Classes are online or a hybrid of classroom and online. Which route did you take?
In order to accommodate my work schedule, I sometimes had to watch some of the lectures online and try and make it into the classroom as much as possible. However, having the lectures at my disposal when trying to study is such a powerful tool.

How long did it take you to complete the program?
It took me two semesters to complete the program, so one year. I probably spent about an average of six hours a week watching lectures and going to class. The homework time varied week to week as I’m guilty of procrastinating until a week before the assignment is due, but I would say there’s an extra six hours per week on homework on top of the lecture time.

Students spend a great deal of time doing actual programming projects and some end up in the real world. What were some of your projects?
None of my work from the program made it to the real world, but I created two Android applications that have made it to the Google Play Store [the official app store for Android smartphones and tablets]. One is a social media app, and another is a music app for working out, that syncs music tempo to a heartbeat and steps.

Did the program offer any networking opportunities?
Yes, all of my professors became contacts that I know I can go to for career advice. Also, I was able to make some friends who I have run into in the industry.

What do you think is the next big thing in web and mobile?
I think the next big thing is driverless cars. They’re going to require major networking and mobile sensors which equates to endless amounts of jobs in the industry.

Would you recommend the SDSU’s Web & Mobile program to others? If so, why?
I would absolutely recommend the program to other students if their background was computer science. This is a program that will help you catapult your career to the next level and give you the raw technical skills needed to succeed in the real world.