By Corrine Previte
The most recent update to Chapel that you may have noticed are the new Christian Life and Worship Chapel Checking Devices. These new devices did not just happen overnight, however, as it has been a long process that started in 2013 when chaplain Tom Haugen came to Gordon College. The conversation began between Haugen and the Center for Technology Services (CTS), where Haugen wanted to know about the process of updating the system. The palm-pilot technology that had been used for years broke often and was very expensive, since the product was not in high demand.
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Eventually, this idea moved its way down to the Computer Science department and then into the Senior Seminar class last Fall. With the mentorship of Professor Russell Bjork, Professor Russell Tuck, Jason Whitehouse in CTS, the support from the Chapel Office, and both Jonathan Manos and Travis Pullen––now graduated seniors––decided to take on the idea in order to make it a reality.
Since the project was going to be used as soon as possible, the group had to work at a more aggressive schedule, starting to program at the end of the Fall. To accommodate the fast pace, the team met weekly in order to meet certain requirements and to work on the design of the new device. During this process, the team received assistance from CTS worker Jason Whitehouse who acted as the customer. “I acted as the customer receiving the project; I assisted in helping them; walked through what was needed; and gave them specifications,” Whitehouse said.
Over the course of the year, the team tested the devices during Chapel and with smaller groups of students in order to fix any glitches it may have had. The devices were also tested to see if they do in fact get students out of Chapel any faster than normal. The devices are expected to cut down the time it takes to get out of Chapel from eight minutes to four minutes, which cuts the time in half. On the first day the devices were released it took about 12 to 15 minutes to leave Chapel, however, this should not be the case for the future.
Tuck said, “one of the problems is it was the first time with everyone; it’ll be faster with practice. A few percent of the cards were not in the student database right, but once that’s fixed then it shouldn’t be an issue.”
Eventually, the new Christian Life and Worship devices made their way to the Chapel office, where Heidi Hoffstetter (Administrative Assistant in the Chapel Office) trained the Chapel checkers. “The devices have practically been flawless. Although there was a bad batch of ID cards, CTS has been phenomenal for fixing everything,” Hoffstetter said. Hoffstetter also suggests when checking out of Chapel, to gently tap your photo on your ID to the thumb drive located on the tablet. Eventually, the device will make a beeping noise to notify students once they have received the Chapel credit. “It can be stressful; I care about students time; the computer science cares about students time; and this frees you up to have less stress in your lives. We want the chapel to be a place of welcome and hospitality, and to make sure you all know we care about your time,” Haugen said.
Overall, Whitehouse states that this project was “one of the most successful projects we’ve had for a student written project. The kids who worked on it did an excellent job and stuck through.”