Inspiration

"Hey Ms. Myers, is the Kitchenette key available?"

...

"Gosh, is Bruce open? I sure am hungry for some high-quality food..."

...

When it comes to life, there are two kinds of questions. The one's that matter—who we are, who to vote for, whether we should procrasinate studying by watching Netflix or going to the rec—and the ones that don't. I'm looking at you, banal questions we never take the time to automate. How many times have you ran down (or laterally, if you're one of those seniors) all the way to the front desk just to find the Kitchenette key was checked out by a club that you know will spend forever in there? Or how often do you ask your friends "when the next bus leaves for campus" when you're at Discovery Park? This is TAMS—we have research to do...uh, erm, and 50 other things, so we believed it was time to automate those silly questions so we have a friend who's always there to inform us that taking Fido on a stroll down A300 will knock you down 10-20 disciplinary points.

What it does

  • Gives you curfew time. Try asking our app, "When is curfew," "When is curfew tomorrow," "When is curfew a week from now," or even "When was curfew 30 years ago?" (we haven't tried this, but we think it works). Helpful especially for incoming juniors who just can't seem to wrap their heads around the supremely intuitive fact that Fridays = 1:00 but Sundays = 12:00.
  • Tells you disciplinary points. This took a while. Try asking her "how many points for public displays of affection," or "how many points for being late to curfew." Or even—but don't tell Mellissa—" how many points for being late to seminar. "
  • Tells you whether a room is available. So far, this function supports 3 highly sought-after rooms:
    • Beweley? Bueley? This room.
    • Kitchenette
    • TV Room

We gave the front-desk staff a pretty web app to click on the rooms to check them out or check them in when they lend out a key or have it reserved. That way, you can simply turn over in your bed, ask, "Alexa, ask Student Hub is the kitchenette available?", and prance on down to make yourself some homemade gelato or turn over and fall back asleep, depending on her response.

  • Tells you whether common TAMS locations are open. This includes:
    • Cafeterias. Just ask, "is Kitchen West open," and you may find yourself prancing on down to high-quality allergen-free food in no time.
    • Pohl/The Rec. Imagine working yourself up to go "lift" (as you earnestly promise your friends you do) only to find out the Pohl is closed. We won't let this happen again.
    • CVS. Okay, okay, you could already ask Alexa this, but would it have been our beloved CVS?
    • Libraries (Willis and Sycamore). Unfortunately, we cannot provide anyone to walk back with you if you decide to take advantage of Willis's 24-hour policy.
  • Tells you of upcoming club events. Just ask, "get upcoming events for {CSO/JETS/Another Club}." Zach created a lovely web app for execs to easily enter events so we can all know this easily.
  • Lists level x disciplinary violations. Curious as to the weird things that might be categorized as a "Level 3 dock?" Just ask our app to "get level 3 violations" and have a list of all 9,854 infringements read to you.
  • Discovery Park bus times. Stop nagging your friends. Ask our app. It can tell you when the next bus departs from the Union, or when the next bus departs from D Park back to home, sweet home. Or you can find out when the next bus leaves "30 minutes from now" if you're really confident about your lab exam.

And finally...

  • Washer/Dryer Availability. Just ask, "is dryer 1 open" or "is washer 2 open" (yes, we'll think of better names soon enough) to find out if you're going to have to walk all the way to Siberia to do your laundry. When you load your clothes up and press the "start" button, just scan the pasted bar code and slide "off/on" on whichever machines you've rented (I'm looking at you, guy that uses 3 but thinks he's being clever...).

What can't TAMS student helper do?

How we built it

We didn't build it. It evolved on its own. We just sprinkled a little React here and there for our web apps, a touch of Node.js for the Alexa logic, a dash of Firestore and Firebase for the lovely database and hosting services they provide, and plenty of CloudWatch debugging. And I mean plenty. I never want to see those haughty green favicon bars again.

We also had to input a whole bunch of example sentences to Alexa. This sounds funner than it is.

Challenges we ran into

Nathaniel had trouble grokking asynchronous javascript. Don't look at his code for the washer/dryer function. Zach had trouble with promises, but his solution was crisp and elegant. Nathaniel had trouble forgetting not to ever recursively remove his main directory (I know, how do you forget that?)

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We really like the washer/dryer availability functions, room availability requests, and upcoming club events functions. These are especially dynamic and should save TAMS students time. We're also hopeful that incoming juniors can utilize curfew requests and disciplinary points inquiries to avoid admins unwittingly mistaking ignorance for heathenry. We're glad we were able to churn this out with Keathly's project deadline looming over our heads like an otherworldly spirit. The overall production went smoothly and we got it done in a timely manner, so we didn't have to stay up all night coding (thank god).

What's next for TAMS Student Hub

We'd like to see if this could be adopted throughout McConnell as a common interface for inter-TAMS information. We'd also like to incorporate new functionalities, including solving interesting problems that didn't come to our minds but are experienced by the TAMS community regularly.

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