Student Dan Vogel ’16 creates ice cream app for colby dining

Two years ago, Scott Lehman ‘16 designed and released the yourColby app. The app gave students immediate access to dining hall menus, alerted them to featured events on campus, and later allowed students to check laundry cycles in their dorms. The app quickly became a staple of everyday life at the college and a useful tool for students. While the app covered and improved many diverse aspects of daily life at the college, some students recognized the potential to design more apps to improve Colby life.

Enter Dan Vogel ’16. Vogel, a computer science and mathematical science double major, realized that there was one component missing from the yourColby app: ice cream menus for each dining hall. Vogel conceptualized the Colby Ice Cream app while he was abroad last Spring; now, the app has finally come to fruition.

According to Vogel, the app will show the four flavors currently available at all three dining halls and will continually update as flavors change. To ensure the app remains up-to-date, Vogel partnered with the Director of Dining Services, Larry Llewellyn,  to manage the app. Llewellyn, along with the dining hall managers, will submit flavors to the Colby-Sodexo admin account.

“I came to him [Larry Llewellyn] with this idea and I wasn’t sure Sodexo would get on board, but he was so receptive to it and he saw potential in enriching the student experience, and he was immediately committed to getting this app off the ground,” said Vogel. “So Larry enlisted the dining hall managers to post. Honestly, if he hadn’t reached out to me, we wouldn’t have been able to get Sodexo to post those flavors.” 

Initally, Vogel intended to build an app where students posted the flavors. However, Sodexo proved to be a more viable option, as three dining hall managers could post the flavors more efficiently than a plethora of student admins.    

This, like many of Vogel’s decisions, occurred organically and deviated from his original plan.

“As I designed the app, I was never too process-oriented, so a lot of the final design came organically,” said Vogel. “I relied primarily on a basic storyboard that I created at the beginning, but that changed during the development process.”

Although Vogel is a computer science major, he had no prior experience with app design, and thus faced a steep learning curve. He learned to navigate the interface X Code, a free program provided by Apple for writing apps, and wrote the app in Swift. Vogel’s only guidance throughout the process were YouTube videos on app design and an old textbook in his house that discussed the complexities and mechanisms of some of the programs that he needed to navigate. After a month of work, Vogel put his finishing touches on the aptly named ColbyIce Cream app.

While the app is an addition to the successful YourColby app, the two apps are currently unconnected.

“There could have been potential, but it’s a totally different user interface,” said Vogel. “The Ice Cream app is a lot more narrow than YourColby, which is a very broad-reaching app.”

Although the app has been finalized, Vogel is already conceptualizing further additions. In a possible second version of the app, Vogel hopes to allow users to subscribe to their favorite flavors; when that flavor is brought to a dining hall, the user will get a notification. Additionally, Vogel wants the app to contain allergy information for each ice cream flavor so that students with allergies could read about flavors before entering the dining hall.

Eventually, Vogel hopes he can compile and document a list of people’s favorite or most liked flavors. Sodexo could then use this information to cater ice cream menus to the desires of students at the College.

The Colby Ice Cream app is set for release in two weeks. Students can download the app from the app store. This app is currently only available for iOS devices.

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