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Pitt Professors' App Would Help Connect Students And Tutors In Real Time

Keith Srakocic

For college students, finding the right tutor at the right time isn't always easy.

Using an approach similar to that of companies like Lyft and Uber, two faculty members at the University of Pittsburgh's electrical and computer engineering department are hoping their app can help bridge that gap.

According to Robert Kerestes and Sam Dickerson, there are plenty of students on campus who need tutoring and no shortage of students who want to tutor. The problem, said Dickerson, is that the potential tutors and students are still relying on flawed ways of connecting, like tutoring centers with limited hours, or a bit of seriously outdated technology: fliers.

“If you ever walk around Oakland, probably on every telephone pole you’ll see a sheet of paper with tear-off tabs,” said Dickerson.

Kerestes said they want students to be able to simply look on their phone to see which tutors are nearby and what subjects they teach, at any time of the day — or night.

"Being a student, 3 a.m. might be the best time to study [for you],” said Kerestes, with a laugh. “Maybe not for the right reasons, but it’s when you end up studying.”

Kerestes said the app will feature short profiles for both tutors and students that contain information like a rating and perhaps even other interests that might help best match a pair.

Kerestes and Dickerson have received funding through the office of the provost at the university to begin developing the app. Dickerson said once it’s up and running, they’ll use a familiar pool of undergrads as guinea pigs — they plan to open the app to engineering students during initial testing.