Everything you wanted to know about Columbia's dining halls could soon be a few iPhone taps away.
Gil Feig, SEAS '15, is currently piloting his Dine@CU app, which will allow students to check location hours, calculate nutritional facts, and view menus for John Jay Dining Hall, Ferris Booth Commons, and JJ's Place. Feig, who worked closely with Columbia Dining and Columbia University Information Technology to develop the app, said it would officially launch in the next few weeks.
Feig said that the motivation behind the app was to present the information on the Columbia Dining website in a more accessible and user-friendly configuration.
“It's clean and it does what it needs to do, and I think that it does it in a way that will make people want to use it and not scare them away,” Feig said. “For the most part, I think this app is what people want out of dining.”
“It's all about ease, instant gratification and overall, enhancing the student experience,” a spokesperson for Columbia Dining said in an email.
In addition to the app's basic features, Feig is most excited about the app's ability to calculate nutritional facts for each meal item.
“It's almost like a shopping cart where you can add things to it and it'll keep a total,” Feig said. “It'll do total nutritional information, and all that in kind of a very friendly format.”
Feig said that the app will also alert students to special themed meals in the dining halls, including the annual international day and Thanksgiving meal, and allow students to submit feedback about each location.
A potential new feature of the app will estimate how many students eat in a specific dining hall at a given time, but Feig wants to make sure that the system is perfect before adding it to the program.
“Until I'm sure that it's something that can be more accurate, I don't want to put that in,” Feig said.
The app started as a personal project until he met with Dining, after which it developed into a larger collaboration. He said he was going to push the app out on his own, but then decided to check with Dining for legal reasons.
“So I showed it to them, and they said OK, now we want you to make a full app for us—because we like it,'” Feig said.
“Throughout the process his technical expertise and student perspective have been invaluable,” the Dining spokesperson said.
The app will be released through iTunes shortly, but for now, Feig and Dining is piloting the app with a few students. Feig said that students who have tried it are giving positive responses.
Students interviewed on Monday are excited about the possibility of an app that could potentially simplify their dining experience.
“If I'm choosing a dining hall, I want to see what's there,” Alex Pan, SEAS '16, said. “Why would I waste swipes on food I didn't want?”
“I'd be interested in the app,” Pan said. “It's easier than looking up a menu online.”
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