News, Profiles

Course notifier generates buzz

Senior Rob Rankin was sitting in BIL 481 when he overheard two students behind him talking about a friend who had made a program to alert him about the availability of certain courses.

“So, I said, ‘Okay, I’ll go ahead and make it for everyone to use,’” Rankin said.

Rankin is the creator of the course notifier option that the university provides on the school Blackboard page during registration. The program has been up since the fall semester of 2011 and has been used by 2,000 users with 8,000 requests for alerts.

Sophomore Gabriela Lins has used the course notifier to help her sign up for courses and map out an ideal schedule that would facilitate her life as a commuter and a work-study student.

“The program gives students greater autonomy over selecting courses … and gives students more ownership of their schedule, and I am extremely grateful for that,” Lins said.

The program itself consists of two parts. One part is referred to as Python, and that component of the program actively searches the UM website every five minutes to check for open courses. The second portion, referred to as PHP, checks to see if those course that have opened up match any of the requests made through the course notifier.

“Programming is very useful if you ever have interest in it,” Rankin said. “It has so many applications so you can really develop it rather quickly.”

The entire program took Rankin less than three hours to make.

Once developed, Rankin began to post a link to his program on various Facebook outlets. These postings then generated about 300 unique visitors with a total of 1,000 course notification requests submitted. He then sent an email to all advisers in the various schools.

William Vilberg, the associate director for instructional advancement, got in touch with Rankin to promote the program on the UM Blackboard page. Rankin was not compensated for his tool, but that was not his motive for creating the program.

“I’m just happy I could help,” he said. “I got a lot of feedback this semester. I’m happy that people are finding it useful and that they’re being honest with things that can improve so that it can improve in the future.”

The course notifier is not Rankin’s only program. He also developed mylsn.info, which takes the data from lawschoolnumbers.com, a database of law school applicant information, and synthesizes it into an easy-to-consume format. It also notifies users the moment a student’s law school application status changes.

Also available since last fall semester is the UM Campus Cast program, which was done in collaboration with the Atmospheric Science Club, Student Government and the Instructional Advancement Center. Caneweather.com sends subscribers daily alerts with weather forecasts for the day.

Rankin, who is a biology and philosophy double major on the pre-law track, has been programming since he was 12.

“I found one application when I was young that would do my homework for me and from there, I just found more and more ways to make it useful to now, where it makes money for me,” he said.

Rankin is also planning on participating in UHack, a 24-hour app creation event where students will get the opportunity to develop ideas for potential applications.

Programming is something Rankin enjoys regardless of what career path he might take, and the course notifier is just one of many products of that enjoyment.

“I do it sometimes for fun, sometimes because I find it useful in cases like this,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll have an idea and it’ll be five o’clock in the afternoon, and I hop on my computer and then its like 5 a.m. That’s just kind of a programmers thing.”

February 17, 2013

Reporters

Amilynn Soto


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Could the once forlorn University of Miami be closer than some think to extending that national-reco ...

A few media notes on a Thursday: • As has been the case most years, ABC has decided to televise the ...

Most of the University of Miami student body is on Summer break; but the Hurricanes football team is ...

University of Miami football great Cortez Kennedy, a Pro Football Hall of Famer remembered for his w ...

The Hurricanes are still alive in their quest to make it to the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament. ...

A new study reveals that mindfulness training, but not relaxation training, benefits college athlete ...

Frenk delivered his inaugural lecture Wednesday, officially joining the most prestigious group of Me ...

Victor Oquendo, BSC ’09, is following in his parents’ footsteps. ...

The Rosenstiel School’s final lecture of the 2017 Sea Secrets series focused on using science diplom ...

Researchers believe they have found a new way to monitor the intensity and location of hurricanes fr ...

Five members of the University of Maimi track and field team advanced on Day 1 of the NCAA East Prel ...

No. 40 Estela Perez-Somarriba took down No. 27 Arianne Hartono of Ole Miss, 6-4, 6-3, Thursday morni ...

Jonathan Keller and Amanda Gale of the University of Miami track and field program were named to the ...

The University of Miami's Week 3 game at in-state rival Florida State on Sept. 16 will be telev ...

Due to inclement weather, the ACC Championship has adjusted the scheduled for games and Miami will n ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.