How a Mason alumni built one of the most popular Mason programs for class registration.
BY ETHAN BURK, STAFF WRITER
Alumni Jeong Min Cho is a current software designer who is passionate about creating apps that promote social good in his community. Most recently, Cho has been updating his Rate My GMU Professors plug-in and expanding its functionalities with a new website.
The Rate My GMU Professors plug-in has seen a large amount of use in the Mason Community. Originally a concept created for PatriotHacks 2021, students could automatically see the rating certain professors had on Rate My Professors by hovering over their names on Patriot Web. While his team chose a different idea for the hackathon, Cho decided to continue the project over his summer break.
On Aug. 19, 2021, Cho announced his fully developed build with a Reddit post titled, “I Made a Rate My Professors Chrome Extension for the GMU Patriot web!”
Within hours of the announcement, the extension had been downloaded by numerous active users. Cho shared that several students contacted him to show their appreciation for his program.
“The feedback I’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Cho. “one individual even thanked me in person by buying me a burger combo at Chick-fil-A when he realized I was the creator of the Rate My GMU Professors extension…It’s been extremely gratifying to know that my work has been widely accepted and useful to the GMU community.”
This was the beginning of one of the most popular tools for the student body, but as software developers may know, bug-fixing is one of the most crucial parts of being a developer. “The original Rate My GMU Professors extension worked solidly for a year and a half before two issues led to its discontinuation in early 2023.” Said Cho.
The first issue with the plug-in was the depreciation of an internal system the program used to contact the Rate My Professors servers. The second issue was more critical to the app, as Google had updated its policies and procedures in a way that caused older extensions such as Rate My GMU Professors to become inoperable.
Originally Cho had planned on letting someone else in the Mason Computer Science community update the extension, but after months of waiting Cho decided to remake the app himself; not only to update the affected internal processes, but to expand the extension and create a website dedicated to its continued development. This allows users and developers to get more information on the app and become able to create their own programs based on Cho’s plug-in.
Cho announced these changes on June 21, a full six months after the app was discontinued. Cho said he intends to maintain the plug-in in the future, “In terms of future maintenance and development of the plug-in. My goal has always been to support the GMU community and make students’ lives easier…as long as there’s a need for such a tool, and I’m capable of maintaining it, I’m committed to doing my best.”
Cho has created other apps for presentation in hackathons such as Profhacks 2020, Skyhacks 2020 and PatriotHacks 2021 which resulted Cho’s team both winning awards of “Best Hack for a Social Good” for Profhacks 2020 and “Best Financial Hack” for PatriotHacks 2021.
In the end, Cho is happy to help the Mason community. “The entire journey from creating the original extension has been filled with valuable lessons. It was a clear example of how the technology world is continuously evolving.”
“Most importantly, I believe in the impact of small tools that provide a community’s specific needs. The enthusiastic feedback from the students, the appreciation I received and the fact that the extension was missed when it was gone all highlighted its value.”