Course Hack Lets Students Automatically Organize Assignments

When Course Hack co- founder and CEO Chris Roszell was attending Michigan State University, he spent a lot of time transcribing what was on his syllabi into iCal, the native calendar app on iPhones. “It took a lot of time,” he explains. “I knew if I could come up with some kind of script [to do it automatically], it would help.”

Roszell enlisted two doctoral students, Cheng Yuan and Xin Fengto, to help. They created software that automatically identifies assignment due dates from an electronic syllabus and imports the information into a Google calendar or iCal, saving time and putting all of the assignments on one calendar.

The three launched Course Hack in the fall of 2011, but the startup really started shaping up, Roszell says, after they pitched Bizdom in the spring and won a spot in its business incubator in downtown Detroit. They also brought on a fourth co-founder, Nick Wright, to concentrate on business development. After some fine-tuning, Course Hack relaunched in September.

Roszell says he’s recently reached out to students and administrators at MSU, University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and Eastern Michigan University, and so far the feedback has been good. He pictures a day when Course Hack will be a go-to tool for young people, and estimates that a total untapped market of 21 million students in the U.S. Before the company seeks any additional funding, Roszell wants Course Hack to net 10,000 sign-ups, which it’s in the process of doing now.

Course Hack plans to keep its headquarters in downtown Detroit as the Course Hack team explores the possibility of licensing its software and the group continues to tweak the script’s functionality.  “So far, it’s been very, very cool,” Roszell adds. “We’ve been working really hard, too.”

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