Photo: (Left to Right) Thomas Blanchard and Andrew Paulley demonstrate their apps at McCabe’s Irish Pub & Grill in Downtown Kitchener.

They may not be old enough to drink, but that didn’t stop them from creating an app for an Irish pub.

Over the past three weeks, two groups of computer science students from Waterloo Collegiate Institute have been building apps for McCabe’s Irish Pub & Grill.

“This is a way we can give teens and youth the opportunity to explore something new,” explained Brad Marshall, the student teacher who proposed the idea to McCabe’s.

All this work culminated in a single presentation last Thursday at the pub’s location in downtown Kitchener (McCabe’s has a second location in Guelph).

With their creations projected on screen and wearing dress clothes that may not have been their own, Thomas Blanchard and Andrew Paulley demonstrated designs on behalf of their groups to an eager panel of McCabe’s management staff.

Blanchard described his McCabe’s app as sleek and simple with the goal of following modern design guidelines. Intended to be a one-stop mobile platform, users can find the nearest McCabe’s location integrated with Google maps, view menus, see discounts and the day’s specials, and view Contact and About pages with automatic call and email functions.

The two 16-year-old grade 11 students didn’t get off easy, though.

Similar to investors, the management panel came with some hard-hitting questions about the maintainability of the app, and about adding specific functions.

Blanchard called the experience fun, but challenging, saying, “Our visions for the app were high, which is good, but getting it from our minds to the actual phone was very challenging. Every one of us had to overcome obstacles and challenges each and every class.”

On the panel was Darryl Moore, Vice President of CMG Entertainment, which runs venues in southwestern Ontario including McCabe’s. Aside from questions, Moore offered feedback and advice for the students and their peers back at school, emphasizing the importance of setting clear goals.

“You have to have a vision,” Moore said. “You have to know where you want to be and you have to think it, and believe it. If you don’t envision it, you won’t achieve it.”

For students coming into this project with no coding experience, there is no doubt this was a tremendous learning experience.

“These guys were under the gun,” said Ion Damian, the students’ full-time teacher. “This was absolutely a real-life, real-world experience, and they should be very proud.”

While the current apps may not be perfect, McCabe’s discussed the possibility of assigning ongoing computer science students from the school to continue the project and maintain the app for course credit – a compliment in itself to the current batch of students.

Meanwhile, Paulley, who has aspirations for a career in business, and Blanchard, who plans on going into software development, are pleased with the experience they gained from their first technology project.

“When I got integrated into high school and computer science, I discovered this whole new world of technology. It’s opened my eyes to a new perspective on life,” said Blanchard. “It makes life easier working with technology when you know what it does.”

About The Author

External Relations Intern

Emmett O'Kane is a Wilfrid Laurier University Business student and brings his passion for marketing and technology to Communitech's External Relations Team. Born and raised in Waterloo Region, he comes from a career in music and now focuses on the connection between business and innovative technology.