Sharing a Solution

Daniel Tran and Natalie Imondi, along with John Romine (not pictured), worked together to create the GPA calculator, which is now used by all five Samueli School departments.Nov. 28, 2017 - A project initially developed to streamline operations in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science has proven so successful that all five Samueli School departments now are using and benefiting from it.

Natalie Imondi, EECS graduate admissions coordinator, was seeking to better organize the 2,000-plus applications and transcripts from 400 different universities received by the department each year. She saw that converting foreign grade point averages into the U.S.’s 4.0 scale was one of the most time-consuming and inefficient aspects of processing the applications, which come from 40 different countries. Since 98 percent of transcripts sent to EECS are from foreign institutions, Imondi recognized immediately the logjam they represented.

To make matters even more difficult, more than 40 percent of the foreign transcripts do not include a cumulative grade point average at all, requiring complicated manual data calculations to obtain it. “Calculating thousands of GPA’s by hand was very time-consuming and extremely inefficient,” Imondi said. “I was determined to figure out a better, faster, more efficient way.”

She recruited undergraduate information and computer sciences major Daniel Tran, an EECS department student assistant, and together, the two worked for a year-and-a-half to build a user-friendly GPA calculator. They tested their new tool during the 2017-18 academic year admissions cycle and were delighted with its efficiency in converting about 1,200 foreign grade point averages into the 4.0 model.

Imondi and Tran presented their grade point calculator in a department meeting, which also was attended by staff from the Samueli School’s Graduate Student Affairs Office. Jean Bennett, director of graduate student affairs, expressed interest in the calculator as a tool to be shared across the school’s five departments.

Enter John Romine, Samueli School director of administrative and lab computing. Using Tran’s computations as a starting point, Romine created a web-based version of the calculator, which allowed all the school’s graduate coordinators to use the program simultaneously. In addition, he coded several of the most frequent foreign universities’ GPA data directly into the Graduate Application Tracking System (GATS) so the system could automatically convert GPAs. (All other foreign universities’ GPAs can be converted using the web-based calculator before being entered manually into GATS).

 “I am proud that I had the idea and saw it through, and now our GPA program is being used by the whole engineering school,” Imondi said.

 -Anna Lynn Spitzer

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