Penn Labs has launched a new website to let students “favorite” their preferred dining halls, look for new study spaces on and off campus, and even recommend food trucks to their friends.
The website, known as Penn Basics, includes features such as setting laundry timers and finding off-campus study spaces. It also shows data similar to the existing Penn Mobile app, another Penn Labs product, including weather, campus events, news, dining hall menus, and laundry room availability. In the long run, Penn Labs members hope to add more interactive features to allow students to rate dining halls, laundry rooms, study spaces, food trucks, and other facilities.
"Penn Basics is going to be a dashboard so that students can immediately understand what Penn has to offer,” said Penn Basics team leader and Wharton and Engineering senior Cameron Cabo. “You hear a lot of stuff from friends, whether that be a cool study space or a food truck to try, and Penn Basics will make it easier for everyone to get an idea of what they haven’t seen yet at Penn.”
The student-run group, responsible for products like Penn Course Review and Penn Clubs, plans to launch Penn Basics some time after fall break, likely with a "soft launch" before then.
Cabo said the idea of Penn Basics was initially proposed two years ago by former Penn Labs Director Tiffany Chang, a 2019 Wharton graduate. Since then, Cabo and Engineering sophomore Peter Baile Chen have written over 16,000 lines of code and invested a significant amount of time in the project.
When asked what inspires them to continue coding, collecting data, and working on the project every day, Cabo and Chen spoke about the positive impact on the school and the exciting idea of seeing students use it to make their lives easier.
"Seeing people use it is extremely exciting," Chen said of his hopes for the site.
Students said they look forward to using Penn Basics.
"I at least find Penn Mobile pretty useful for dining halls, laundry rooms, and looking at my schedule," College freshman Emily Kweit said. "So as long as the new website has the same info with more, as long as the website is easy to navigate, I definitely think it could be useful.”
"I will definitely use it," College and Engineering freshman Kevin Li said. "I’m quite forgetful in general, so having an organized way to keep track of everything sounds great.”
Chen and Cabo noted that Penn Basics will be continually updated as they determine what the students want and need out of the website. Chen said the Penn Labs team is even considering adding a toilet feature where students can vote on the best campus restrooms.
“What else can we do? What do students find useful? This is only the first go,” Cabo said. “We will be very receptive to feedback and want students to fill out the feedback form to suggest new study spaces and features they want to see.”