Abe Cereno from UC Merced talks about ways to create value for your campus card office through innovation and persistence. Also learn how Abe takes a silicon valley approach to product development for his campus card department and how his applications create valuable student engagement data for the University. University clubs also use these programs to help with funding from outside companies like Ford and Pfizer in return for behavioral data.
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Abe Cereno is a 20+ year veteran in the campus card industry. He worked many years at Stanford University as a systems engineer prior to coming to UC Merced. More than simply administering his campus’s CatCard program, Abe is also an application developer and created a handful of innovative software programs to meet the needs of UC Merced students. Since 2011 Abe has created numerous new tech products and delivered great value to the CatCard office.
Scratching The Itch
Out of need and frustration for a user-friendly, robust and flexible attendance tracking system for students Abe went out on his own and developed what came to be known as ICE—the I-CatCard Check In and Event Attendance Tracking Program.
Abe started the ICE project back in 2012. After a month of initial development he presented an MVP to test out with students and gain feedback from his technical departments. Abe cites user experience feedback as critical to the success of the application. And since Abe is one of only two people in his card office supporting now over 250 users of the app, making sure the app was very user-friendly was of paramount importance.
By developing the ICE program in-house Abe was able to scale the application immensely—something that would have been very difficult and costly if he were to rely on an outside vendor.
There’s Data In Them Thar Programs
Abe’s ICE program is a great campus resource for valuable student activity data. ICE provides real-time, aggregated data back to the 50 departments and over 150 student clubs that are using it.
Abe provides some usage examples:
- Faculty use ICE for session attendance and to see how long students spend in their labs.
- Faculty also use the built-in survey manager to send questions and quizzes to the class.
- The student clubs can use this data to receive financial support from outside companies like Ford and Pfizer.
All of the above uses result in important data points that help answer the common questions of: Why are students doing this? Why are the students not doing this? And how can we improve in the future?
Creating Value With Your Campus One Card
For Abe, it all comes down to creating value for students and the campus as a whole. Here are a few of his suggestions for other campus card managers:
- Stay innovative.
- In terms of technology, don’t just focus on the now but look five to ten years down the road. Be proactive.
- If you have the knowledge and resources to build and support a product in-house then do it, but make sure you have great documentation.
- Don’t forget that building and managing a campus card department is like a business. You have to be persistent, keep selling it to others on campus and don’t give up.
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