Making meeting easier with the Sweet Spot Scheduler

Camden Tofil
April 12, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Most Penn State faculty and staff find Microsoft Outlook useful to schedule individual appointments, but they rarely enter their semester-long teaching schedules into the Outlook system, making it difficult to schedule departmental meetings. Now, thanks to Hyunjong Shin, who recently graduated with his doctorate from the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (IME), the process is a little easier. 

Lisa Petrine, current program manager for Service Enterprise Engineering (SEE 360) and former department head staff assistant, would spend hours each semester creating an Excel spreadsheet with each professor’s availability with information manually retrieved from LionPATH, Penn State’s student information system. 

Shin developed the Sweet Spot Scheduler to speed this process up.

“The Sweet Spot Scheduler does more than save the staff time during the most hectic time of the academic year: the beginning of the semesters,” Petrine said. “Shin’s new software also eliminates the possible user error when manually entering data from LionPATH. Class schedules change during the beginning of the semester, making the manually created spreadsheet obsolete. Shin’s program displays current information at any time, making it far more accurate and dependable.” 

Shin was able to automatically incorporate the information from LionPATH to find the open pockets of time for IME faculty. According to Shin, the Sweet Spot Scheduler makes the process effortless.

“To do it manually, it took more than few hours of work, but with the program, it will take a few minutes,” Shin said. 

Shin, who earned his undergraduate degree from the Smeal College of Business at Penn State, studied multiple office processes as part of his doctoral research in modeling and optimizing service processes under SEE 360.  

“I like SEE 360 because it helps us see problems with different perspectives and assess the benefits of processes,” Shin said. “In the past, people tended to focus only on the value of physical goods.” 

The Sweet Spot Scheduler is currently used by staff in IME, but Shin believes this program will be useful to other departments, too. 

“To expand, we are doing a beta-test of the program with our department staff,” Shin said. “Once the program is robust and pretty much stabilized, we are thinking about distributing it to other departments. There is always room for improvement and interacting with others can always bring good contributions that benefit many.” 

SEE 360, as part of the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, aims to engineer the 21st-century economy by educating students on how they can find and solve service industry problems. The initiative offers a minor degree, works on developing teaching resources such as textbooks and case studies and introduces students to opportunities for engineering in labor-intensive service industries by partnering with businesses to optimize service.

 

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Last Updated April 19, 2021