Gamifying Grad School: How IE Students Have Leveled Up Their Socializing

May 16, 2018

If you’ve worked through a doctorate degree or know someone who has done so, you probably understand that obtaining a coveted hour of social time can be rare. A doctorate is hard work; even at your most productive, you still may not feel productive enough. Between hours of intense research and teaching, “free time” starts to feel like a foreign concept, and getting back into the game and out of the thesis-mindset can be really difficult.

However, one PhD student in the Industrial Engineering department has changed the game—or, rather, has made socializing with other students into a game.

To encourage post-doctoral students in Industrial Engineering to attend events around campus and to promote community in the department, IE PhD student Juliana Arango took the initiative to organize group activities through the phone app, Eventzee. Eventzee is a scavenger hunt-style app that keeps its participants engaged by gamifying attendance to events.

“We have two types of activities: academic and educational,” said Juliana. “The ones that are academic related are like seminars and different talks around campus. We also have social events in which we just have a coffee together, go to the lake, or hang out with the faculty members.”

If having an app on hand to stay organized with activities in the department isn’t cool enough, there’s an added bonus: you earn points by attending events, so the more events you attend, the more points you earn. Students must post a photo from the event or check into a location on the app to earn points, and at the end of each month, the top two students with the most points earn a prize.

The main goal for Juliana was to get PhD students together, socialize with one another as well as faculty, and set aside time to be active on campus alongside their studies. Whether that has meant getting everyone downtown after a long day or going for early morning runs and coffee breaks with the head of the department, the app has succeeded in fostering a fun and dynamic sense of community in the department—not to mention a bit of friendly competition among the students. The current number of students and faculty on the app at this point in the semester has reached a massive 45 members, 21 of which have at least 50 points.

This month’s winners were Josh Margolis in first at 380 points and Amro Khasawneh in a close second at 360 points. Both students received a $50 Amazon gift card.