Anyone who has been to Club Fest has experienced the sensory overload of dozens of tables and hundreds of students crammed into a room in the Kimmel Center for University Life. Club leaders try to get the attention of confused first-year wanderers as loud voices echo across the room in attempts to lure students before they dash off to their classes.
The worst part, according to Product Designer for NYU IT Sarth Desai, is that sometimes little comes out of this besides students being added to dozens of mailing lists. Drawing from this disheartening experience he had with Club Fest as a graduate student in the Tandon School of Engineering in 2013, Desai helped create Find My Club, a new app NYU released late last month to change the way students connect with clubs on campus.
Now, a student can simply open their NYU Mobile App and click on Find My Club. After selecting any number of 16 different interests, students have the additional option of filtering results through 55 subcategories. These functions are intended to help students search for and follow clubs that grab their attention.
Senior Vice President of Student Affairs Marc Wais, whose team worked with NYU IT Operations Technology and Support Services on the app’s production, says it allows students to find all the information of Club Fest in one place.
“This new app provides students a one stop opportunity to connect with clubs and organizations throughout NYU,” Wais wrote in an email to WSN.
Once a student selects a club to follow, they can see its events and announcements. Additionally, they can join the club through the app, although this requires the approval of the presidents. The app saw 8,270 unique student logins within 17 days after its launch, a number that Wais said showed that more students want to engage with the university than are currently able to do so.
The app was created by Desai’s team, Student Tech Innovation, which is made up of 20 to 25 students from different schools within NYU at the graduate and undergraduate level. Focusing on how to improve the student experience, Desai and his team hoped to make an app suited for NYU newcomers, drawing inspiration from Spotify’s recommendation method and Airbnb’s filter function when designing the app.
Tisch first-year Cassie Vega said she enjoyed the app and that it could be a good tool to those looking to be more involved at NYU.
“I think it could be a really useful resource for people who are looking to get more involved on campus but don’t know where to start,” Vega said.
Stern sophomore Elizabeth Chen found that the app’s calendar, which allows students to see events of the clubs they are following, was a nice touch.
“I like the calendar function because a bunch of clubs I was trying to go to aren’t clear with their meeting time and location,” Chen said.
In phase two, Desai hopes to use machine learning to streamline the recommendation process and figure out what types of events and clubs students are most likely to attend. For now, he is gathering student feedback on the app. Desai attributes any success thus far to focusing on student voices throughout the process. Not only did he confer with student government and heads of clubs at NYU while developing the app, but his all-student team played the largest role in its creation.
“It works really well because it’s students who are building for students,” Desai said.
Email Victor Porcelli at [email protected].