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Sixth form student works with University on app for pet owners

Date 9.09.2016

A new ground-breaking pet care app is being developed by a sixth form student through the University of Northampton and Moulton College, in collaboration with the Pet Industry Federation (PIF), which will help new pet owners ensure they have the right level pet care knowledge when they take on the responsibility of a pet.

The UK is a nation of pet lovers; an estimated 46% of households have a pet, and the pet population stands at around 58 million animals. Fish, dogs and cats are the most commonly owned creatures, but more unusual pets like slow lorises, Pygmy hedgehogs and miniature pigs are crawling, burrowing and walking their way into the nation’s homes.

Whatever the pet, it is important that potential pet owners get advice on which animal is most suitable for their lifestyle. Whilst this advice can certainly be provided by their local pet store or vet, a budding computer programmer from Irthlingborough has been working on an app which will soon enhance the information out there and allow pet owners to access high quality information about potential pets prior to purchase.

Calum Patton, a student at Huxlow Science College, has been awarded a Nuffield Research Placement which offers sixth formers the chance to work on university research projects during the summer.  Calum is a budding computer programmer, and he has been working with the University of Northampton and Moulton College on the project. Calum has designed an app which tests users’ knowledge on caring for a variety of pets, in a fun and simple quiz format.  Calum’s work has been ably supervised by the University of Northampton’s Dr Scott Turner and Wanda McCormick at Moulton College.

Dr Scott Turner, Deputy Head of Computing, explained: “It’s still early days: the app is currently only available on the Android operating system, but the design is essentially there. By working with Calum and the Pet Industry Federation we hope to develop the app further and make it more widely available.”

Calum said: “The placement has been excellent as I have been able to design and test the application, figure out problems and take into account what a customer would expect from the app.”

Vicky Skinner, Education Manager at PIF, commented:  “This app should provide potential owners with key information on their chosen animal and allow them to make a more informed choice before they purchase a new pet, therefore helping to prevent abandoned, unwanted or neglected animals”.

To find out more about the University of Northampton and Moulton College’s courses, visit the respective websites. Nuffield Research Placements provide over 1,000 students each year with the opportunity to work alongside professional scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians.