Shady Side Academy student-built app puts scheduling at your fingertips
Shady Side Academy senior Henry Friedlander said a digital planner for students at the Fox Chapel area school will make it easy for teens to meet up with friends, schedule tutoring with teachers and buy lunch at the dining hall.
He and other members of the senior school's computer science club developed a mobile app that helps SSA students manage and share their class schedules, review daily bulletins and glance at the lunch menu.
The SSA Student app was unveiled to the student body with a Steve Jobs-like presentation on Sept. 29 at the school along Fox Chapel road.
“The app holds your schedule for easy viewing of the complex eight-day rotating schedule at SSA and you can easily share and compare free times to schedule meetings with friends or teachers,” Friedlander said. “It also holds the daily rundown of everything going on campus that day.”
Members of the computer science club who worked on the app include seniors Fuad Youssef and Thomas Jordan, juniors Peter Wang and Aidan Shilling, freshman Nick Zana and alumni Tom Scherlis and Rain Du.
“I have always wanted to make scheduling meetings easier for students and teachers,” Friedlander said. “There is a lot of wasted time emailing back and forth about when is a good time to meet. By the time you finally meet, the timeliness of the thing you wanted to talk about has passed and the meeting ends up being unproductive.”
The team began work on the app during the 2016-17 school year and perfected it this fall. It is based on an older scheduling app called SSA Mobile, built by alumni Collin Mason and David Franklin, who graduated in 2011.
School Communications Director Jen Roupe said the new app was built from the ground up, incorporating the best features of SSA Mobile and adding new features driven by student input, such as schedule sharing.
“Updating the SSA app was a huge project and the students threw themselves into it with passion and intensity,” said SSA President Tom Cangiano. “The final product was the culmination of creative problem-solving at its best. Not only did they survey their peers to understand what kind of features everyone wanted, they then had to write the code for the app to make it happen.”
Cangiano said the design is professional and has “cool graphics.”
To use the SSA Student app, students enter their schedules to automatically generate a class list based on the calendar date and school's eight-day cycle.
The app automatically adjusts on special schedule days and auto-populates weekly events such as assemblies and advisory group meetings.
Roupe said its most popular feature may be the ability for students to share their schedules with friends.
The app generates a code unique to each user that friends can scan into their app. “Once friends' schedules are saved in the app, the user's schedule will automatically note which friends have the same lunch periods and free periods, making it easier to meet up for lunch or to study together,” she said.
Teachers can enter their schedules into the app as well, making it easy for students to meet with them during a free period.
Download the SSA Student app in the App Store for iOS or the Google Play Store for Android.
Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review.