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NDSU Extension Service and Tech Park start-up collaborate on phone app to help motorists stranded in bad weather

NDSU students Adam Koski and Nathan Joraanstad didn’t expect a routine work assignment to receive national attention.

The computer engineering majors, who work as software engineers at Myriad Devices, an NDSU startup, designed and programmed a Winter Survival Kit application in collaboration with the NDSU Extension Service.

Within a week of release, the free app had more than 12,000 downloads and received local and national media coverage. “I didn’t know it would take off as well as it did,” said Koski, a third-year student from Virginia, Minn.

The NDSU Extension Service directed the content, provided design input and funded the project with a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Smith-Lever Special Needs grant. Koski worked on the Android version, while Joraanstad, a first-year student from Rolla, N.D., worked on the iOS version.

The Winter Survival Kit app can be as important as a physical winter survival kit for motorists who are stuck or stranded in severe winter weather conditions, said Bob Bertsch, NDSU agriculture communication web technology specialist. The app helps motorists:

•         Determine geographic location

•          Contact emergency services

•          Notify friends and family

•          Calculate how long the engine will run on the remaining fuel

•           Remember to turn off the engine and check exhaust pipe for snow buildup through an alert every 30 minutes

•           Have easy access to important phone and policy numbers for insurance or roadside assistance

The app also provides NDSU Extension Service information on putting together a physical winter survival kit, winterizing a vehicle and staying safe when stranded in a snowstorm.

The app isn't just for North Dakota travelers. People anywhere can access it. “It’s kind of cool knowing people across the world can use it,” Joraanstad said.

Myriad Devices is a company founded by students and faculty in the NDSU electrical and computer engineering department and the College of Business and is based in the NDSU Research and Technology Park incubator. This is the second smartphone app developed jointly by the NDSU Extension Service and Myriad Devices with NIFA support. Learn more about the apps at www.ag.ndsu.edu/extension/apps.

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Last Updated: Thursday, August 08, 2013 8:33:23 AM