Temple gets grant to build urban technology lab

    Temple University in Philadelphia has received half a million dollars from the federal Economic Development Administration to build an “urban apps and maps studio.” In slightly less tech-savvy terms, that’s a place where people can learn how to develop the next great smart-phone application.

    The studio will serve as a hub for creating software applications and data sets—connecting high school and college students and community members to Temple’s faculty, entrepreneurs and civic leaders.

    Professor Jie Wu, who chairs Temple’s department of computer and information sciences, said he is building on lessons learned in Stanford University’s famous “Facebook class.” There, students developed several million-dollar apps.

    Wu sums up the apps and maps studio’s mission simply: “connecting urban communities with a digital ecosystem.”

    Nurturing people’s talents and interests in new technologies can lead to job growth, he said, especially since new software or an app can be developed with minimal investment.

    Christopher Wink, who writes for the website Technically Philly, says the center could be an important addition in the city’s growing tech landscape.

    “Who can help strengthen the pipeline from ideas to products that can be sold?” said Wink. “The center is clearly an attempt to help create that connective tissue between ideas, development, investment and sales.”

    Temple also received nearly $200,000 from the National Science Foundation to test campus and urban wireless networks.

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