College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Bus tracker: Patrick Demers creates new app to help you catch a CyRide

Patrick Demers
Patrick Demers

When Patrick Demers, software engineering major, realized how important CyRide was to getting around Ames, he took it upon himself to engineer a simple and efficient means of navigating bus transportation – the Ames Ride app.

“CyRide is such a vital part of the community because thousands of students and Ames’ residents use it every day, so I realized the opportunity to help,” Demers said. 

Ames Ride has one focus: reliability. 

“When you’re looking for a bus app, you don’t need anything complicated,” Demers said. “You just need a simple app where you can open it, get details on the bus and locate it within a couple clicks.”

Where did Demers get the skills in mobile app development? In the classroom, like in S E 309: Software Development Practices and in his internships at Tyson Foods, NASA and AT&T.  

Ames Ride is already a success in the app stores, and the app’s popularity has continued to grow as a result of Demer’s dedication as an independent developer and from communication with CyRide’s tech leader.  

Demers is currently engineering two major advancements:

  • Creating a back-end server to improve processing and minimizing error.
  • Switch from a proprietary API to general transit feed specification, allowing the app to easily transfer if CyRide switches vendors.

“I plan to continue supporting it once I’m gone from Iowa State, and with it being open source, my hope is my fellow engineers help improve it,” Demers said. “There are so many talented people here at Iowa State, so I think there’s potential for big contributions.”

Demers encourages future developers to observe the world around them and their daily problems.

“If you’re facing a problem, then there’s probably thousands of other students facing the exact same problem,” Demers said. “There’s no barrier to getting people to download the app because everyone’s looking for a solution, and you can be the software engineer that creates it.”