UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new mobile application now allows the University community to explore upcoming art and musical performances on the University Park campus, thanks to a collaboration between the Penn State Performing Arts Council (PAC) and a recent graduate from the College of Information Sciences and Technology.
The free application, which is available for both iOS and Android devices, provides a single platform for arts-related student organizations, the Center for the Performing Arts, and the College of Arts and Architecture to showcase their upcoming events and generate a broader interest in the performing and visual arts at Penn State.
In the app, users can view an upcoming events calendar, discover popular events through a ranking algorithm, and filter by event type so they can quickly find events related to their specific interests. Users can also receive notifications on their devices for bookmarked events and their favorite organizations. Organizations are able to see how many people plan to attend their events, display promotional materials, and link to their websites for more information.
To create the platform, PAC — which works with more than 40 vocal, dance, theatre, music, and writing student groups on the University Park campus — interviewed students with the technical skills to bring their concept to life.
"We had the idea but not the skills to code the platform," said Marissa Works, PAC's incoming president and music education and public relations major. "We thought, why not leverage the resources that already exist at Penn State?"
Works and Anthony Stem, a PAC officer and political science major, spent nearly five months meeting with campus arts leaders to solidify and secure funding for the project. Then they reached out to student organizations and IST classes to identify students with the ability to code the application, ultimately selecting Vincent Vella to handle much of the technical work. Vella, who earned his bachelor's degree in information sciences and technology this spring, collaborated with Works, Stem and Ryan Mysliwiec, a student majoring in computer science, to develop the idea.
With Works leading PAC, and Vella, Stem and Mysliwiec all members of the Penn State Blue Band, the team had a unique passion for the project and a strong understanding of the problem they were hoping to solve.
"There was a big gap between the various arts units and student organizations across campus," said Works. "Events were on different websites and weren't being marketed to broader audiences, so we wanted a single place that showcased everything that was happening."
"PAC was trying to gain more advertising for arts on campus, but they weren’t getting the exposure they wanted organically," added Vella. "They wanted an app to help their organizations better manage and promote their events, and also make it easier for the community to discover arts events happening on campus."