Students looking for events to go to on Friday nights can now access information with a click.
Six months ago, master’s candidates Utku Burgaz and Yigit Oktar identified a problem at Penn — it is very hard to stay updated on events happening on campus, and notice boards are often overcrowded. They decided to try to solve this issue by creating PennBoard, an online platform for students and on-campus groups to post event information and announcements online. The events are arranged on a calendar, which users can navigate to view events by date.
The motivation behind the project stems from the team’s own experiences missing events on campus because they did not know about them.
A week ago, the team launched the demo version of the website, sending about 50 emails out to different campus clubs and organizations inviting them to test the website. They have received interest from a few on-campus organizations, including Penn Recreation. Last Monday, they opened the website up for students with a Penn email to register for an account, and are now continually upgrading the website.
Oktar drew from his expertise in computer science to code the website in two weeks, but Burgaz, who is in charge of the site’s layout and aesthetics, had to learn design coding from scratch. The team emphasizes the simple and streamlined design of the website as one of its key features.
Nicolette Tan, a College freshman who registered for an account, complimented the website on its design.
“It looks like Pinterest, which makes it aesthetically pleasing,” she said in an email. “I think they should be able to allow users to search for events based on category tags.”
“It is easy to use, and I could just glance through to get an idea of what events will be taking place. That is one of the reasons as to why I am using the website, to get information fast,” Stephanie Cheng, an MFA student in the School of Design who also registered for a PennBoard account, said in an email.
Compared with similar attempts to streamline activities advertised by different on-campus organizations like the Student Activities Council’s Virtual Locust Tumblr, Burgaz pointed to the collaborative aspect of PennBoard as a differentiating feature. Users can post their flyers online directly instead of submitting the information to a third party to post it online.
“It’s community-driven,” Oktar said.
As graduate students, the team also received feedback from their undergraduate friends on how best to improve the website. They recognize the potential value of the website especially among undergraduate students, as “they want to be active all the time and continually updated,” Burgaz said.
Although currently a team of two, they are actively looking for students to join their team to code and market their product.
They plan to provide the website service free of charge to students, clubs and university offices but may look into selling premium accounts to businesses for advertising in the future.
Ultimately, the team hopes that PennBoard will be able to replace the old-school noticeboards scattered around campus and become a hub at Penn for events and announcements.
“Students will be able to learn about everything with a single click,” Oktar said.