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VCU Jazz and Computer Science departments create scheduling software

Richmond, Va (December 8, 2016) – In 2007, after working at three universities over the span of 20 years, Tony Garcia realized if he added up every all-nighter he pulled scheduling student ensemble sessions, it would total more than two months.

“With 60 to 80 student chairs available for these ensembles every semester,” said Garcia, director of Jazz Studies, “it can be difficult to place all the auditioning students of varying abilities and schedules into like groups, matched with available faculty and rooms.”

To replace the paper-based system of student schedule grids and contact information, Garcia drew up a flowchart of a proposed computer program to handle the tasks.

Garcia had no success finding a computer science expert to create the program, until he met Krzysztof “Krys” Cios, Ph.D. Cios, a jazz fan himself and professor and chair of the VCU Department of Computer Science, thought he and his senior design class could help Garcia.

Nine years after Garcia’s first flowchart, the TBA program — named for how smaller ensembles are scheduled — debuted.

The computer science students created a software solution that speeds up the placement process and takes only a fraction of the time previously required. It allows the user to make decisions regarding placement of students based on student schedules, professor schedules and room availability.

“The TBA software program allows me to manage effectively an essential part of many students’ academic careers,” Garcia said. “After 42 semesters and 24 quarters of planning ensemble schedules … I'm delighted to have this tool to assist me in getting the task done within a reasonable period of time. My wife is even more pleased about it than I am.”