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How three students are creating 'ultimate college tool' to improve opportunities for campus to connect

Once logged in to their site, you can view a map of all events that are taking place in the area. (Northern Review photo/Khadijah Bagais)

Once logged in to their site, you can view a map of all events that are taking place in the area. (Northern Review photo/Khadijah Bagais)

One common student complaint is that there’s nothing to do in Ada. Oftentimes, this is more due to a lack of awareness of events, rather than the lack of events themselves. Now there’s a service to show everything that is happening around the village, all in one place, thanks to three ONU students.

Officially launched on March 7 after more than four months of work, icpins™, pronounced “I see pins,” is a web service that encourages college students to get connected.

Are you tired of being bombarded with emails about all of the different activities happening on campus? Do you struggle to keep up with when and where everything is going on? Do you ever find out about events only after they’ve already happened? Then “icpins is here to help” says their site.

icpins’ mission is “to encourage students to meet face to face rather than monitor to monitor,” says Min Nam, one of the service creators.

It’s as simple as creating a profile with your ONU email account. Kind of like a Yik Yak for events, the map service on their site enables students to see exactly what's happening on campus or around Ada. You can create your own events (which can be public or private), RSVP to existing events, see who else is going to events, and see where events are taking place. When there’s an event you’re interested in attending, you can select “Going!” and have it automatically added to your Google calendar.

The idea for creating the service started when Keita Mimura, a senior computer engineering major, was interning in Washington, D.C. He was tasked with building a site, but after doing so, says he was bored and didn’t know what else to do.

He started thinking about making a website for students. What would students be interested in? He knows they love parties and going places, but he wanted to encourage something that would incorporate all students.

Keita and his friends Min and Jun Yamamoto decided that creating a service that enabled students to have access to all of the different events happening, from organization and school events, to friendly hangouts, would be a great tool.

They realized that a system like this didn’t exist, and so Keita started building the prototype in the summer, with the service getting moving closer to December. Keita and Jun ended up coding every day for four months straight, finishing classes around 4 p.m., coding until 3 a.m., then sleeping and repeating the process.

Meanwhile, Min was working on PR and marketing, building up their social media, going to campus events, and trying to raise awareness for their service. During this time Min photographed events on campus and posted the photos to icpins' social media pages as a way to raise awareness. Although their main focus is not to provide coverage for events, they can take requests for event photography if you contact them through their Facebook page.

“We have to create something really useful for college students to use, at the same time, it’s fun to use,” says Keita.

“But at the same time, we don’t want them to waste so much time online so that’s why we limit all the picture sharing, video sharing, posting. And since we don’t want to have the negative side of social media, we don’t have a like button or follow.”

icpins has transformed a lot since its initial inception, even going through a name change (initially "Pingle") due to copyright issues. They’ve more recently worked on adding forums to the site, divided up into different topics, so people can easily go online and create posts for everyone to access. They hope to create an online community for ONU students, which will then make it easier for them to meet in person.

They admit that their site is still a work in progress, and are open to all feedback; some user suggestions have already been incorporated into the site. icpins aims to make their service the “ultimate college tool,” eventually incorporating a mobile site as well.

“We’re not trying to make a new Facebook or new media site,” Min says. “It’s about creating a mutual benefit for both organizations and students.”

They had around 50 people create user accounts within the first three days of launching, but they’re still working on raising awareness for icpins. They want to get more people involved because the site must ultimately be driven by the users.

In addition to launching at ONU as a test campus, icpins also plans to branch out to other colleges. They have already started making connections at OSU with highly involved students as a way to start expanding their service. By April they plan to have the service available at other college campuses in the area, and by June, have customizable access available everywhere.

Ultimately, Keita, Min, and Jun hope to see icpins being utilized by students everywhere as a way to be more engaged on campus, make friends, and ultimately create lasting connections.

“If I see someone using it, I’d be so happy. Then we know all the hard work was worth it,” says Min.

As part of their official launch, icpins is hosting a promotional event Sat., March 19 at 7 p.m. at the Regal Beagle. The event is open to everyone, and free pizza will be provided.

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