When senior Dan Bock was assigned an independent study to finish his computer science major, he went beyond the classroom, and into the Binz Refectory dining room.
Senior Dan Bock designed an iPhone application for the Binz Refectory. (Meghan Sheldon/TommieMedia)
As a student manager at the Binz, Bock decided to help students and the dining service by creating a Binz iPhone application.
“I work at the Binz, so I just thought it would be cool to make a Binz app,” Bock said. “I wanted to make it easier for people to see the menu of what we were having each day so they would know if they wanted to walk down here or not.”
The app includes information on the Binz’s location and hours, as well as a link to its Facebook page and a menu that expands over the course of seven days.
When Bock proposed the idea, Binz Manager Andrew Casale said he thought it was simply “fantastic.”
“When they built the Anderson Student Center, they had all of these neat screens and menu boards and our first thought was (the app) could be the digital menu board to go. You can take it with you anywhere,” Casale said. “They’re certainly not going to buy us 25 screens to put in here. So from that perspective, I thought it was a cool idea.”
Bock developed the app on his own time, with pictures from Casale, in hopes of increasing the Binz’s business. Bock said that after the student center opened, the business at the Binz dropped dramatically.
However, Casale said that after the app launched the week after spring break, he saw a serious increase in business, putting the Binz back on the St. Thomas dining map.
“We had a lot of people comment on it (the app), so it has been effective,” Casale said.
Freshman Angela Koppen said she noticed the app was offered on one of her two daily trips to the Binz.
“I was eating at the Binz and they had the advertisement in the napkin holders,” Koppen said. “Now I can use the app to see what is for breakfast, lunch or dinner. In fact, I use it every other day at least.”
So far, the Binz is the first dining service on campus boasting an app.
“As far as I know no one else is working on, or has an app,” Bock said. “So that’s kind of exciting for the old Binz.”
Bock said he has many ideas for the app’s future.
“I had thought of notifications, like if I really like sweet and sour chicken, my phone would send an alert. So that’s a possibility,” Bock said.
An Android phone app is also a possibility, but was not part of the immediate launch as Bock and Casale wanted to get a feel for its popularity.
“People should email us or post on our Facebook if there is any new features they would like to see,” Bock said. “If we think people will download it, we will do it.”
Meghan Sheldon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.