Matthew Wajsgras wanted to get the lay of the land at the University of Virginia before transferring from Virginia Tech this summer, so he created ’Hoos Mobile, an app with everything from maps to class descriptions.
“I’ve had an interest in software development, not really career-wise, but hobby-wise,” Wajsgras said recently on the sunny plaza outside Clemons Library. “I thought it would be a great way to get to know the school a little bit before I came.”
He also wanted to help other students new to UVA. Not being an expert application builder, Wajsgras stuck to what he knew. “I had a lot of ideas, but it was matching ideas with capabilities,” he said. “I had to find stuff that I thought would be useful for people, like mostly first-years and new people to the school trying to learn it just like me.”
Building the app wasn’t easy. Wajsgras, a third-year systems engineering major, said there was a steep learning curve. “I had only taken intro computer science classes, so I had to teach myself a lot.”
That meant watching YouTube videos and using a website called Stack Overflow, a coding forum where people post questions and others answer them. “A lot of times you Google questions and a Stack Overflow link will pop up,” he said.
Along with the maps and course descriptions, ’Hoos Mobile has links to the University’s main website and schools, the Student Information System (known as “SIS”) and the UVA athletics site, virginiasports.com.
The app includes a UVA Today Twitter feed button and links to several popular Corner eateries. Students can also calculate their GPAs in a special section of the app and test their UVA trivia muscle with a nifty UVA quiz.
It took Wajsgras nearly six weeks to build ’Hoos Mobile, even as he worked full-time and completed an internship. He released the app on the Apple and Android stores on July 12.
“The growth of the app has been very organic,” Wajsgras said. “When I posted it on the social media pages, I probably got 600 or 700 downloads. But it has almost doubled since I released it.”
’Hoos Mobile is now being used on more than 1,400 phones.
So if you are wondering where to find Pinn Hall, recently named for Dr. Vivian Pinn, a 1967 graduate of UVA’s School of Medicine and the only African-American in her class, download ’Hoos Mobile to your Apple or Android phone and tap away.