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Davis, California

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Student-run software development group AggieWorks launches roommate-search app

The app, RoomU, is “like Tinder for roommates,” meant to help Aggies find their perfect roommate match


By SONORA SLATER — campus@theaggie.org

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“I like to go out, but I’m also always down for a chill movie night in. I love the outdoors, and I would love to make some memories with my friends this year by going for hikes, watching the sunset and swimming underneath waterfalls. I’m looking for someone who matches my extroverted personality, listens to Taylor Swift and believes in basic personal hygiene.” 

We’ve all read Facebook posts on forums where freshmen search for a roommate that sound more or less like this — or maybe we’ve posted one ourselves. It can be a hard task to find someone to share a living space with when, often, first-year students have to choose a roommate before ever meeting anyone on campus, other than maybe a tour guide. Michelle Tran, a fourth-year economics and cognitive science double major and the product manager of UC Davis software development student group AggieWorks, said that she and others in the organization saw this problem, and wanted to create a solution. 

“We all are college students, and we all have personal experience with how difficult it can be to find a roommate,” Tran said. “It’s time-consuming, it’s awkward to reach out and […] even after you find a roommate, there can be compatibility issues. So we wanted to combat that to help students save time, save energy and save effort in a way that leads to successful roommate searches.”

Tran noted that in the past, incoming students have used a variety of platforms to connect — in addition to Facebook, there’s also Discord, the UC Davis Student Housing Portal and college roommate search app Roomsurf. These all have various benefits and downsides, according to Tran, including the quality of one-on-one chat functions, ability to verify potential roommates’ identities, gathering information about peoples’ personalities and so on. The AggieWorks team took these varying factors into consideration as they began to plan their own roommate-search solution. 

“We wanted to incorporate all the best aspects of Facebook, Discord, UC Davis Housing and so on and put it all in one app so that students can have the best experience possible,” Tran said. 

So, after months of brainstorming, planning and designing, they launched RoomU. The app’s unofficial tagline, according to Tran, is that it’s “like Tinder for roommates.” 

“Similar to Tinder, we have a matching system where […] you can swipe through to look at other users, and you match if you both say yes to each other,” Tran said. “There’s [also] personality quizzes to hopefully lead to more compatible matches.” 

Users can fill out their profile with personal information like their name, major, year pronouns, hometown, Instagram handle, interests and more. There are also options to answer logistical questions like whether they have an apartment secured or not, whether they want a single, double or triple room, what their budget for housing is, if they’re going to be living in a freshman Living-Learning or Shared-Interest Community and so on. There’s also a personality quiz where users can say how clean they are, how often they plan to be home, how close they want to be with their roommate, if they snore, if they smoke, if they drink, what their study/party preferences are and so on. 

Matches can message each other in-app, and the log-in process is built to verify that users are UC Davis students.

According to Sadeed Adnan, a fourth-year computer science and economics double major and the director of product at AggieWorks, RoomU isn’t actually the only technology project that AggieWorks has designed this year. They have designed three different platforms, all geared toward addressing students’ needs.

“The first is [RoomU…],” Adnan said. “The second is Club Finder, which is a personalized platform where students can discover, organize and manage club information. The third app is a marketplace app which allows students to buy and sell products.”

Kent Williams, a fourth-year computer science and engineering major and the director of engineering for AggieWorks, said that he wanted to highlight the “by students for students” mentality of the group.

“Not only was this built with the UC Davis campus in mind, but all of this was built by UC Davis students; all of our engineers and designers and the leadership in AggieWorks are all Davis students,” Williams said. “We’re trying to do something to serve our Davis community.” 

Tran expressed that she is looking forward to seeing RoomU being used by students in the coming month and said that she hopes this is just the start of a bigger change to the way roommate matching is done.

“We really think that this is the future of how roommate searching should be,” Tran said. “We don’t think it should be that difficult, or take 20+ messages to future roommates. We’re really excited to see this come alive on campus.” 

RoomU is currently available on the Google Play Store for Android users and the App Store for iPhone users.

Written by: Sonora Slater — campus@theaggie.org