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Professor creates app for edible ethics

In kindergarten when the teacher asked what you wanted to be when you grew up, responses varied from princesses to firefighters.

Clay Ewing, on the other hand, imagined teaching gaming design while still designing games of his own.

Ewing, an assistant professor on the tenure track in the School of Communication, recently assisted Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) United in launching  an application that allows users to research the ethical practices of restaurants in their area. It was released Dec. 11, 2012, and is available in Miami as well as other major cities, such as New York City, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles.

Ewing collaborated with Meghana Reddy, a friend from high school, on the project.

“I … told her I was doing mobile development, and she told me she was doing nonprofit work,” said Ewing, an adamant supporter of volunteerism.

Reddy works as the company’s communications coordinator.

Restaurants are ranked by five categories: offering paid sick days, having internal advancement opportunities, providing suitable living wages and becoming a member of the ROC Roundtable. At one point per category, restaurants receive the silver award for two points and the gold award for three or more points.

“This application allows customers to make a decision on their restaurant based off of different decisions rather than just the food,” he said.

Ewing received his B.A. in telecommunications from Pepperdine University in 2003. He also had a slew of jobs, working as a Hollywood office production assistant, a video game tester for THQ and then a software developer at Buchalter Nemer law firm.

“I hated being someone’s b***h,” Ewing said.

He returned to school where he received his M.F.A. in design and technology from Parsons The New School for Design in 2010. Since then, Ewing has worked on various mobile applications individually and collaboratively, such as Bumpin and Gen II IRR Calculator.

Ewing has always been passionate about giving back to his community and jumped at the opportunity to create an application that would help increase workers’ standards of living.

“I was always a technology person, and I didn’t realize I could make apps … for the common good,” he said. “I was using my powers for good, which felt good.”

Some of his upcoming projects and releases include Ad Patrol, an application to deter illegal advertisements in New York; converting Vanity the board game into a mobile app; and working with the Miller School of Medicine to create an app that deals with sickle cell anemia.

February 3, 2013

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Jordan Coyne


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