Have you ever taken a walk through the Gettysburg battlefields and noticed all the monuments? The Gettysburg battlefields have over 1,200 of them, varying in size, meaning, and style. So how can a tourist, student, or interested Civil War buff navigate the vast number of monuments in Gettysburg? Or even find the ones they care about?
Enter Computer Science Adjunct Professor Charles Kann. Interested in the history that surrounds the Gettysburg College campus, Kann visited the National Park Service looking for an app that could guide and supplement his journey. Kann lamented, “The monument application at the National Park Service was not free or web-based, and other similar applications, like Virtual Gettysburg, were not free or web-based either.”
Seeing a need, Kann spent over 500 hours visiting the battlefields and collecting location data from every monument. Kann saw applying this data as a learning opportunity for his students. “Developing tools with students and helping them learn is what I love to do,” he said.
John Duncan ’17, a computer science major, was the first student to come to Kann’s mind. Duncan explained, “Prof. Kann had an idea of making a web application to map and visually sort the data between different parameters, like brigade, battalion, the Union, flagpoles, and field markers. He asked me if I wanted to work on it over the summer, and of course I said yes.”