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Taking Flight

By Sean Ostruszka


DeVry students create “Fly with Butch O’Hare” game for O’Hare Airport

Air travel is fast. Getting into the air, not always the case. Security lines, check-ins, delays – sometimes travelers have no shortage of downtime at airports.

For travelers at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, this idle time soon could be converted into vendor discounts thanks to a team of DeVry University students.

As part of O’Hare Airport’s 75th anniversary events, 11 DeVry students were challenged to create “Fly with Butch O’Hare,” a mobile game set inside the iconic airport. In the game, users can collect points, answer trivia and earn discounts to participating O’Hare stores and restaurants. A “beta” release of the game was showcased in August outside the Butch O’Hare Museum in the airport’s Terminal 2, with a full release slated for later this year.

DeVry students, professors and colleagues pose or a picture at the "Fly With Butch O'Hare" event at O'Hare Airport. Pictured (from left) is Amy King (President), Michael Henson (faculty), Tim Zoreck (DAA), Jomar Vega (student), Luis Zamora (student), Dylan Saucedo (student), Alec Zorn (student), Angela Deardurff (student), Anthony Larcher-Gore (student), Timothy Raysby (student), Fiby John (student), Sheliza Keshwani (student), Tinu Mathew (student), Arthur Messick (student), Nana Liu (faculty), Brendan Aubin (admission director), Jim Karagiannes (faculty chair) and Lewis Zanon (center dean).

While business owners inside the terminal were excited about the game’s abilities to engage travelers and increase exposure for their stores and restaurants, the project offered the students a real-world test of what they learn in the classroom.

“It was pretty exciting,” says Sheliza Keshwani, a senior in computer information systems & database management specialization. “We were initially divided into front-end and back-end teams. So you were either developing the game itself, or you could be integrating the database and doing the administrative work.”

For senior cyber security major Anegla Deardurff, “Fly with Butch O’Hare” meant showcasing her pen-testing skills in order to ensure the game, network and users’ information was secure. Meanwhile, Tinu Mathew, a senior in the  computer information systems program, built the back-end for user registration.

“(The students) are using an entire array of skills, from technology to communication to project management to design,” DeVry Group President Amy King said. “(The project) benefits the students by combining all of the work they learned in so many different classes into a real-world application that benefits the airport, travelers and the Chicago Department of Aviation.”

Multiple DeVry professors oversaw the project with the students, guiding and assisting when necessary. Though, senior professor Nana Liu said the students didn’t need much help, as they were able to “transform their abstract academic theories to real practice.” Professor Michael Henson echoed those sentiments, expressing pride as the students used their classroom foundations to expand their skill sets and quickly learn new technologies.

DeVry students (from left) Tim Raysby, Angela Deardurff, Jomar Vega, Anthony Larcher-Gore, and Alec Zorn pose for a photo at the "Fly With Butch O'Hare" event.

While the game’s end goal is to help and entertain travelers, it also will help the students graduate, as it was part of the students’ senior projects. Then there is the résumé and portfolio-building aspect, which every student said was invaluable.

But Keshwani credits it with even more.

“This project enabled me to find even more of what I liked and what I’m good at in my area. It opened avenues for sure, and is going to allow me to dig in even more.”

Do you have a DeVry university student, faculty or alumni story to tell? Email Sean Ostruszka at SOstruszka@devry.edu