CSC alumnus one of the first to work on app development
It’s hard to imagine spending a day without our phones. Many of us use apps like a reflex, without ever thinking about how they came to be. Not alumnus Kevin Vitale, BSCS ’07, M.S. ’09, one of the first to ever work on app development. He played fundamental roles in developing Domino’s Pizza Delivery and the two-authentication Duo Mobile apps, ranked by Apple as two of the three top iPhone apps from Michigan, among others. But first, he attended Wayne State.
Drawn to the university’s computer science program and Detroit’s revitalization in its infancy, Kevin started his undergraduate in 2005 and went on to pursue a master’s in computer science two years later.
In 2008, he purchased his first iPhone, a year after its release.
“I quickly realized the seemingly unending potential in the platform. I purchased a ‘How-To’ book and tried my hand at it. Just days later I submitted my first app for Apple to review.”
Called “iPropose,” it was the first ever marriage proposal application. Intended as a satirical take on the popular “there’s an app for that” slogan, Apple didn’t bite, but it was a valuable experience, Kevin says. “To my surprise, the app managed to catch the attention of a few tech-focused podcasts and websites, including CultOfMac.com.”
After graduation, Kevin moved to Ann Arbor so his wife could begin her residency program at the University of Michigan. Recognizing iOS’s “bright future,” he was looking for iOS jobs in the area when Domino’s Pizza put out the word they were looking to create a delivery app.
“To be honest, I was in the right place at the right time! At the time, being an iOS developer in SE Michigan was a novelty. I had written exactly two mobile apps when I applied for the job at Domino’s Pizza.”
Released in 2011, Domino’s delivery app set the standards for all other quick-service restaurants’ delivery apps.
A year later, Kevin joined Duo Security (purchased by Cisco for $2.35 billion last year) as their 6th employee. Duo Mobile is now used by Facebook, NASA, and of course, Wayne State University among others.
Today he’s a consultant within TD Ameritrade, a brokerage firm based in Omaha, Nebraska. Kevin started as a technical lead for their mobile trading application for iOS, giving “users the ability to actively trade on financial markets from their mobile phones.” Now he works with internal development teams, writing custom software solutions.
With how dependent we are on smartphones today, it’s easy to forget its humble beginnings are a little more than two decades old.
Kevin advises that aspiring software engineers growing up in the digital age today step outside GitHub and LinkedIn to make connections.
“Every development job I’ve gotten post-Domino’s—from Duo Security, to TD Ameritrade—had been in association with someone that I put time into building a great relationship with,” he says. “Often the best jobs won’t come to you through a recruiter or LinkedIn.”