MONACA, Pa. — On a residential campus, rounding up your fellow students is simple: Knock on a dormitory door or plop down in a study lounge.
But on a majority commuter campus like Penn State Beaver, gathering a group of your peers can be a difficult task.
So an information sciences and technology class is developing an app to make it a little easier.
Students in Instructor Ted Froats’ IST 440 class have spent the semester researching and building an app that allows Beaver students to find and convene study groups, buy and sell goods, and gather friends to attend activities and sporting events, among other things.
“We’re really trying to organize a community within the campus,” said project manager Joseph Pry.
The idea grew out of Beaver’s strategic plan, which pointed to transportation as a critical campus need and a ride-sharing app as a possible solution. But when the IST 440 students surveyed the campus community, they found transportation was low on students’ wish lists. What students really craved was a Craigslist-style online marketplace and a way to locate like-minded students for studying and events, all of which the app will provide … eventually.
“It’s been an extensive project to try to fit into one semester,” Pry said. “But I was so excited when we first saw the data flow through the system after two months.”
Right now, the app allows users to see and make posts. It also connects to the campus Twitter feed and features multiple external links, including the campus map and contacts page, and the Penn State Zimride network.
The students are currently in a two-week crunch to add additional features — like the ability to post photos — and polish what they have. Programming team lead Evan said they probably won’t meet every item on students’ app wish list by May. But they anticipated that from the beginning. It’s the reason Froats insisted that administrative team lead Erica Clark keep detailed documentation of the process, including terms of service, service-level agreements and a manual.
“It’s a book,” Clark said. “But the groundwork is already there if someone wants to come in and develop it further.”
Once the app is up and running on the Beaver campus, students are hopeful it could be replicated for other Penn State campuses.
“We wanted to build something end-to-end that would function in the business world and I think we got it,” Pry said.