Mobile Development Grad Spotlight: Shanna Cote

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Full Sail’s Mobile Development Bachelor’s Degree program reached a major milestone last November when it graduated its first class of students. This week we’re catching up with a few of those grads in a special Grad Spotlight series.

Just two days after walking in the first graduating class from our Mobile Development program, Shanna Cote took a position as UI/Web/Mobile Designer for Spatial Networks, a rising company focusing on what they call “geospatial technology” for mobile devices. It’s a position that has seen Shanna adapt her background in design to a field that continues to attract more and more artists.

“I work with really smart guys, and it’s just awesome being able to feed off of all their knowledge and what they’re creating here,” she says. “One of my first tasks was basically taking everything they had done and making it responsive on both mobile devices and desktops. Being able to have a hand in design and contribute to something that goes out to the public like that is an honor really. It’s why I got into this.”

Shanna had been working in the tech field for well over a decade as a freelancer, owner of web design boutique Sitesquared, and even co-developer (along with her husband) of the iPad case The Grablet. For a successful artist and entrepreneur, the obvious question is what influenced her to seek out more education?

“For me it wasn’t about getting a degree, although that’s obviously nice, it was about learning more of the technical side of this industry for myself,” she explains. “I realized I hardly even use my laptop anymore, except for work. Surfing, Pinterest, anything like that – I’m on my phone. There’s a lot that can be done in mobile, and I want to become a part of that.”

Her role at Spatial Networks has offered the opportunity to deeply integrate into an exciting area of mobile tech. The company’s range of products include Fulcrum, Graffiti, and Pushpin – three powerful apps that provide a range of navigation tools for different uses. In simple terms, these mobile location trackers let you collect and share data in real time, and can be utilized by industries like law enforcement, real estate, agriculture, disaster relief, retail, and more.

Shanna explains that these and similar applications offer fresh inspiration for her on the visual front, with the opportunities for creative design continuing to thrive with how sophisticated our handheld devices are becoming. “In the last five years there’s been a major shift in the market, and I think design is going to play more of a role as it moves forward,” she says. “I think there’s preconceived notions of artists wanting to make everything pretty and then it ends up not working right in the software, but I have a lot of experience and am able to come at it from both sides. The developers get it – that what I can contribute helps improve the apps for them and their users.”

Modern culture is so tied to mobile devices, and that connection will only deepen as developers find new ways to create engaging experiences. Even as a consumer, Shanna is excited by the possibilities of the medium, and sees that evolution playing out with more robust apps and games that engage with users as much through their art and design as their functionality.

“There’s so much that can be done with mobile, it’s still such a baby,” she says. “In the industry right now it’s starting to be on the cusp, and really helping to create the next best things for technology as a whole. What we’ve seen so far is only a tiny percentage of what can be done, and we as developers just have to move forward and keep doing what we’re doing.”

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