We Build Better Systems

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We are student developers, designers, artists, and thinkers from Westmont College. In other words, you could think of the CATLab as a student-led think-tank for our school. Our majors include Art, Computer Science, Data Analytics, Economics & Business, English, Psychology, and Spanish—we truly draw on the liberal arts! We also have staff members on the team supporting us and keeping us on track, but it’s really the students who run the show.

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Who is CATLab?

Last summer, we took a half-day retreat to build our team identity. After an afternoon of conversation, we produced this statement: We design creative solutions to real problems and take ownership of our professional and personal development, empowering others to innovate in their own communities. Let’s break that down a little.

  • Design creative solutions: We incorporate a variety of disciplines, allowing us to solve problems in unique ways; and as a relatively small organization, we’re nimble—able to make changes easily

  • Real problems: Our developers work on technology that the school actively uses

  • Professional and personal development: The CATLab is meant to be a launching point for the students who are part of it; students are encouraged to pursue their own goals and development even as they work 

  • Empowering others to innovate in their own communities: We model a successful program to other institutions, engage in conversation at our annual tech conference, and also hold a coding event at the end of the summer to teach local high school and junior high students basics of computer science and Salesforce, the platform we build in

Who Do We Serve?

We may be a small team, but we have big goals. Although we technically work for Westmont, our influence goes far beyond our school. Here’s an idea of the various groups we serve and how we do it.

  • Westmont: Building and improving software for the school, allowing it to run more efficiently, thus facilitating better relationships within the institution

  • Other Colleges: Providing a model for how to have a successful team of student interns; hosting an annual tech conference

  • Our Interns: Giving them real-life experience in fields like coding, designing, marketing, etc. as well as soft skills in teamwork, creating a social media presence, etc.

  • Employers: Training college students to solve real-world problems so they can make immediate contributions to the workforce (some students are already involved in concurrent part-time internships with Outside Open, Thornhill, etc.)

  • Local Students: Hosting an all-day coding event to teach local high school and junior high students programming basics (Be A Multiplier)

What’s Our Focus This Summer?

In a phrase, the programmers’ focus for this summer is making it possible for high school students to apply to Westmont through a custom application process. Believe it or not, that one simple goal involves a lot of work. Because of that, we’ve split into a couple of teams to tackle different parts of the challenge.

  • Team 1, Data Loading: Making sure all the necessary information is included in Westmont’s latest instance of Salesforce

  • Team 2, Building Components: Creating pages and tools to help people do their jobs in Salesforce more effectively 

  • Extra Projects: Building “My Trailhead” for Westmont—a customized tutorial that trains employees in the particular ways that Westmont uses Salesforce

  • Bottom Line: Creating a single, integrated CRM (Customer Relationship Management system). These improvements form part of a larger effort to transform the way technology shapes the Westmont experience.

What Are Our Values?

The theme we’ve chosen for this summer is tenacity. We will stick to our goals and make serious progress even if our setup looks different this summer. As a group, we value commitment, curiosity, and authenticity, which all connect to this theme as we are encountering uncertain times and forming new plans. 

  • Authenticity: We bring our authentic selves into our work. As people of faith, we long for greater meaning, for wider impact, and for deeper community. We are thrilled by success, refined by failure, challenged by conflict, and inspired by forgiveness. We will run into problems and encounter obstacles, but we will face our whole journey with honesty and fellowship.

  • Curiosity: We are fascinated by technology, hungry for knowledge, and humbly aware that we don’t have all the answers. We exercise wisdom in our own use of technology and create space for deep thought and reflection. We are not afraid to ask questions, seek solutions, and support each other as we pursue truth.

  • Commitment: We have taken on a task for Westmont College, and we will be faithful in fulfilling our promises. By finishing the tasks set before us, we will gain experience in our fields as well as certifications and credentials, which we value as external markers of our internal drive. We are people of character: we will get the job done, and we will not give up.