The next time you search for the latest smartphone application, CSU Monterey Bay hopes a local student designed it.
For the second year in a row, the university is bringing together students and software professionals to come up with the newest phone app at its Ideas of March competition.
The March 15-17 event is aimed at students in the region who have programming experience, CSUMB Program Manager Mary Jo Zenk said.
"We need to build the technical skills in the region," she said. "A lot of businesses are created right now with tech."
Unlike CSUMB's Startup Weekend in January, which had competitors come up with a business plan, Ideas of March focuses on the technical aspect, Zenk said.
She said organizers are reaching out to all local colleges but are limited to 50 participants because of space constraints. Ideas for the apps can be submitted by nonprofits.
Mark Peterson, one of the organizers of the annual Monterey Bay Regional Business Plan Competition, said it makes business sense to focus on apps.
"Everyone is using phones and tablets more than they are logging on their PCs," he said. "They are outpacing the sales of PCs now and becoming the primary computing device. So applications are definitely where it's at."
The apps will be designed using Google's Android operating system because it is the No. 1 system for smartphones and is "open source," meaning users are allowed to change and distribute the technology for free, said CSUMB
Tao, the head of the School of Information Technology and Communication Design, said participants would need to purchase rights to develop apps on the system used in Apple's iPhone.
The event was the idea of Monterey County Business Council President Mary Ann Leffel.
She read about a similar event in the San Francisco Bay Area and decided to pitch it to CSUMB.
"(The council is) set on innovation and trying to get people to understand that they can learn a little more than they do now," she said, "and we can keep a lot of these jobs here locally."
Leffel said another reason the council, which co-sponsored the event, is interested in apps is it often hears from small businesses that want to get an app but are unsure how to do it.
There were 30 participants in last year's event, but for now, Tao said, organizers want to "keep the size somewhat manageable."
He said four of his students got job offers after last year's event.
"They are all current students," he said. "Obviously, there is a need for these software developers in our region."
To apply, see innovation.csumb.edu/ideas-march. Applications are due March 8.
Phillip Molnar can be reached at 646-4487 or firstname.lastname@example.org.