Department of Computer Science
85 Engineer’s Way
Charlottesville, VA 22904
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (May 6, 2015) – The University of Virginia’s Computer Science Department’s Service Learning Practicum (SLP) has completed its third year of projects for local nonprofits. In the Practicum, students form groups of six or seven students to develop software for local nonprofits. The Practicum allows students to see a large software engineering project from inception through completion. Created in 2012, the SLP is a two-semester sequence for fourth year computer science majors. This past academic year, there were 15 projects in which over 10,000 hours were devoted to local area nonprofits, which yields over one million dollars of free software development for the local nonprofit community.
Professor Kevin Skadron, Chair of the Computer Science Department, spoke about the impact of the Practicum. “From a social responsibility standpoint, the Practicum allows students, and the department, to help out the community, while providing an excellent learning opportunity in the form of a major, real-world software development experience.”
Professor Aaron Bloomfield, instructor and creator of the Practicum, commented on the course. “The Service Learning Practicum is an outstanding educational opportunity for our students because it is holistic. It covers the entire life cycle of a piece of software, from specification to deployment, requires rigorous and state-of-the-art software engineering practices, and requires interaction with a real-world customer. Even better, though, is it allows the students to both give back to the community, and to see how easily one can help the community through computer science.”
SLP students on one project created a new scheduling system for Madison House, the primary volunteer coordinator for the University of Virginia. In the past, generating a tentative schedule would take 10-12 program directors a total of 5 hours each to complete. The new scheduling system can generate a similar tentative schedule in minutes. “Madison House had an amazing experience working with the Service Learning Practicum,” said Jennifer Walker, the Director of Programs for Madison House. “The online system the SLP students created does the matching instantaneously and will save us so much time in the future. This is a service we would have paid for, so to get it for free was a tremendous benefit for our nonprofit.”
Student working for The Haven, a day shelter for the homeless, created a volunteer management software that allows for online management of the scheduling of the more than 800 volunteers. Eleis Lester, the Haven Volunteer Coordinator, commented on the system: ” The Service Learning Project has transformed the way The Haven schedules volunteers. Our student group spent months coding a scheduling system that meets the nuanced needs of our shelter, and this new system saves me hours of work each week.” Time saved can be put to other uses, which she also noted: “more importantly, as an organization, we spend less time communicating with our volunteers about scheduling logistics and more time celebrating the good things that happen at the shelter each day.”
Local nonprofits interested in participating in the SLP for the 2015/2016 academic year should visit the SLP: Nonprofits page.
The full list of projects developed this past year is shown below; full descriptions can be found here.
- Alzheimer’s Association, Central & Western Virginia Chapter: a system to manage volunteer data and provide a web portal for volunteers.
- The Arbor Charlottesville: a system to manage the care and recovery of their clients; no identifiable information about the clients will be entered into the system.
- Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad: a system to manage shift scheduling for volunteer EMS workers.
- Charlottesville Municipal Band: a system to manage their donations and membership lists.
- Hope’s Legacy: a system that combines horse management (horse care, locations, etc.) with volunteer management (scheduling, hours worked, etc.).
- Innisfree Village: a system to help manage the scheduling of appointments for their residents.
- JAUNT: A real-time system to allow clients to track the busses and view their reservations.
- Loaves and Fishes of Charlottesville: a system to help manage the scheduling of their volunteers for shifts.
- Madison House: a scheduling system that allows the program leaders to schedule their hundreds of volunteers to various volunteer sites and shifts based on scheduling criteria.
- Service Dogs of VA: a system to manage the training of the dogs, who have multiple daily training reports as well as weekly training evaluations.
- The Haven: a web portal for volunteers which will primarily allow for shift scheduling, among other features.
- The Shelter for Help in Emergency: a web portal that allows for volunteer management.
- Thomas Jefferson Adult and Career Education: an online GED and ESL quiz site that allows for customizable preparation quizzes.
- Wintergreen Adaptive Sports: a system to manage the scheduling of the instructors and students who participate in the program.
- WTJU 91.1 FM: a system to allow DJs to create play lists from their music catalog, and play that music on air.