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Data analyst Susan Quant, right, shows off Penn InTouch's new features, which let students track their requirements, to Wharton senior Ellen Pellino. (Stefan Miltchev/The Daily Pennsylvanian)

A test run of an update to Penn InTouch began yesterday. The new feature allows users to fit a student's courses into their requirements and plan for future semesters. Susan Quant, a data analyst with Information Systems and Computing, presented the worksheet feature to students and advisors in a demonstration yesterday in Logan Hall. The system has the requirements for all Engineering students and undergraduate Nursing students. Four of 17 Wharton concentrations and four of 44 college majors are currently available on the worksheet. Joint degree programs are not yet available. All undergraduate majors are expected to be available by the end of the year. Kristin Davidson, director of administrative affairs in the College and a member of the advisory board for Penn InTouch 2000, said that all the college majors would be online in time for advance registration for the Fall 2001 semester. Quant pointed out that students whose major is not yet available on Penn InTouch can still use the worksheet feature to plan non-major requirements. The feature, accessed through the worksheet button on the Penn InTouch menu bar, consists of three portions: a list of requirements, a list of the student's courses and a toolbar. Students can assign course to requirements by clicking on the relevant icons. The system will change the icon by the requirement to show whether the proposed course actually satisfies that requirement. Advisors can create "official" worksheets; the worksheets students create are labeled "unofficial." A student can create multiple worksheets, using the requirements of any school or program available on the system. On the official worksheets, advisors can waive requirements and enter permits and exemptions. A student would need to make a copy of the official worksheet in order to modify it. The worksheet features also allow for planning for future semesters. An auto-assign feature provides what Quant called a "Las Vegas approach" to course planning, attempting to automatically fit courses a student has taken into the open requirements. While the feature will match course assignments correctly, it may not do so in the best possible way, Quant said. Quant noted that the worksheet is a planning tool that does not serve as an official graduation requirement checklist. Work on the worksheet feature started last fall, with programming beginning in March of this year. ISC staffers Jim Choate and Ed Read worked on the feature along with an advisory board of faculty and staff from the undergraduate schools and graduate schools that may want to use the system in the future. A prototype of the system, known as Penn InTouch 2000, was demonstrated in April.

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