The University of Pretoria is proud to be the home of innovative young minds. A group of students from the Department of Informatics in the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology has proven that dedication and creativity, along with an understanding of human needs, bear fruitful results.
Yi-Yu (Bruce) Liu, a third-year BCom (Informatics) student, along with his project team, has successfully developed groundbreaking timetable software for use by UP students and staff. This software allows one to automatically customise one’s university timetable and to add further information such as test dates and personal events at the same time.
Chylls Timetable Assistant is linked to the University’s database of information on academic modules, time slots, venues and test dates and is automatically updated as the database is updated. This streamlines the process of generating individual timetables and allows for timetable optimisation in cases where the classes for one module can be attended at different times and in different groups. The program can generate up to 30 000 timetable options in under a minute, giving users the opportunity to plan their days much more efficiently.
UP staff and students can download Chylls Timetable Assistant directly from the ClickUP home page and can synchronise the timetable generated by the program with their personal Google calendar – thus meeting the requirement for successful new technologies that they should integrate into the technologies that users already rely on.
The development of this software emanated from Bruce and his team’s student project for INF164. Christopher Park, also a third-year BCom (Informatics) student, supported Bruce in the process of making this idea a workable project, and these two students teamed up to do the groundwork for the first version of the program. During their university holiday, Bruce and Christopher approached both the Business Incubator at UP and Prof Alta van der Merwe, Head of the Department of Informatics, with a prototype of their software.
Prof Van der Merwe assisted the students to get their program onto ClickUP for students to start using. In 2014, Chylls Timetable Assistant got some 5 000 clicks, and in 2015, this number has increased to some 9 000 clicks. Bruce has been approached to present the program to first-year BCom (Informatics) students with the aim of not only boosting the user numbers for Chylls Timetable Assistant, but also of inspiring them to work hard towards achieving great things while at UP. Inspiring people is Bruce’s goal.
In their second year, Bruce and Christopher were joined by other members of their class – Kristina Jovanovic (BCom (Informatics)), Duran Cole (BSc(IT) Software Development) and Nonde Masondo (BCom Informatics)) – who assisted with interface redesigns and internal updates to improve the user experience of the program.
“The program considers the special needs of students,” says Arina van der Merwe, a student who used the program to create her own personal timetable. “It enabled me to adapt my schedule to my needs; a frustrating and time-consuming thing to do by hand. I will definitely use it again,” she states.
Prof Van der Merwe says that the Department of Informatics is proud of these students who were involved in the development of the Chylls Timetable Assistant. She believes that they have gained valuable experience in the development and deployment of such a useful system.