CATLab History

The Center for Applied Technology began CATLab in 2017 when Westmont decided to place its Salesforce platform in the hands of a small cohort of computer science and data analytics undergraduates who were ready to push the school forward. The talented cohort proved to be just as efficient and effective as teams of industry professionals, providing a model which other schools like UCSB soon followed 

Read on to find out how CATLab has evolved through the years.


This year, CATLab focused on both creating new projects and maintaining existing solutions. The students worked on a modern application system for prospective employees and faculty. They also cleaned up Westmont's database of duplicates, reconnected with the college's alumni, and standardized Westmont's web forms. Lastly, they built Westmont's resources for and connections with local pastors in order to better connect the college with the local Christian community.


This year’s team built upon the groundwork laid in 2021, expanding the myWestmont portal to include many of Westmont’s older forms and apps in a single one-stop-shop based solely in Salesforce. For the first time, CATLab partnered with Westmont’s admissions department to form an Admissions Development Representative team (ADR). Based upon the Business Development Representatives model of tech startups, the ADR team leveraged CATLab’s innovations to connect Westmont and prospective students more effectively. With the addition of the ADR team, this was CATLab’s biggest cohort yet (27 students and 14 staff)—complete with marketing, sales, developer, and data analyst teams, plus a fully stocked snack bar.


In 2021, students embarked on a multi-year project towards creating myWestmont, a single, easy-to-use portal to meet all the online needs of both students and staff members. This portal helps students with everything from checking their chapel attendance to applying for ministries to registering for classes. Students built the foundations of the portal, which Zak Landrum describes as “a beautiful central train station that gives Westmont staff and students the 21st century experience they deserve.”


During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone had to make adjustments to the ways in which they lived and worked. Despite the obvious challenges of being remote in 2020, CATLab students made it possible for high school students to apply to Westmont through a custom application process using Salesforce Communities. Students worked to improve both sides of the process—externally, by improving the user experience for high schoolers; and internally, by improving the way admissions counselors and officers processed those applications.


In an effort to take Westmont off of third-party software unsuitable for the college’s needs, CATLab took on the challenge of building a custom Salesforce portfolio from scratch—and succeeded. CATLab also expanded in 2019 to include a marketing team of creatives. The creative team makes sure that CATLab’s work and lessons won’t get forgotten. Even if data gets outdated or apps have to be rewritten, the story will live on.


Piloted in Summer 2018, a team of seven students created software for the college’s advancement services, allowing them to dramatically improve their systems for donor relations, donor tracking, and fundraising.


In 2017, when students originally hired to help with data entry began building better ways to process information, the college realized that, given the chance, students were capable of transforming the way technology could be used. While other institutions might hire a team of industry professionals, Westmont decided to leverage the skills of its students to customize layouts and processes within the Salesforce platform. Thus, Westmont created the CATLab, a pioneering response to a common problem.