OIT Application Development and Support

June 28, 2017



 

Written by: Nicole Duff, Communications Specialist

This department spotlight is the first in a series of feature stories which will highlight the work of specific areas in the UTSA Office of Information Technology.

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UTSA’s Mobile App, Blackboard, Bluebook and ASAP are a few popular resources designed to enhance the experience of our students, faculty and staff. But did you know that these and other applications are available thanks to the dedication of the UTSA Office of Information Technology’s (OIT) Application Development and Support team?

The Application Development and Support team or simply ADS as it is called by IT staff, comprises 20 full-time employees. ADS staff work diligently behind the scenes to design, develop, test and provide applications to the UTSA community through partnerships with vendors like DubLabs and Ellucian.

“ADS serves as a conduit between various functional departments and areas within IT in providing solutions to streamline processes and data flows,” said Jayashree Iyengar, director of ADS. “We also provide support for automating various processes aimed at supporting student success initiatives.”

Fostering innovation through automation is one of ADS’ main goals. To achieve this goal, the ADS team has developed a repertoire of applications to help the UTSA community succeed.

Some of its noteworthy achievements include furnishing the UTSA Mobile App with additional features such as RowdyPay, which allows students to conveniently pay their tuition on-the-go and a registration module that enables students to easily sign up for classes on their mobile device.

The team also recently modified the transcript request process for students, by designing a user-friendly portal through which students and alumni can submit requests via an electronic device.

“We have implemented the ability for past and current students to request a transcript through an easy-to-use website that is available in any platform including our mobile app,” said Greg Oliver, OIT manager of ADS. “They can either request a paper or an electronic copy which can be sent to themselves, a prospective employer or another institution.”

In addition, the ADS team works on projects that are less visible to the entire UTSA community. For instance, the team is responsible for automating paper forms such as student petitions and graduate school forms as well as card access request forms for the UTSA Police Department and support offices.

The team also supports, maintains and gathers student data from Banner along with faculty and staff data from PeopleSoft to help create identities for new students and employees in order to grant them access to all of the UTSA systems.

“The ADS team interfaces ASAP to the National Student Clearinghouse for enrollment verification, to see what’s being reported to the state,” explained Laurie Trevino, OIT manager of ADS. “We also link to TouchNet for online payments and to a third-party company for the AlcoholEdu and Haven required trainings, which address alcohol and drug usage and sexual assault and the advocacy of healthy relationships, respectively.”

To help support these and other platforms, the ADS team works in conjunction with not only other OIT areas, but also other UTSA departments.

“ADS collaborates with every office from Parking to Facilities to Student Affairs,” said Iyengar. “We are the front-face between OIT and the UTSA community for building and developing applications.”

Currently, the team is working on implementing ChatBot, a program which will provide computer-generated responses to help answer students’ technical support questions. This summer, ADS will hire student workers to continue working on this project, according to Oliver.

“ChatBot will be student-focused and will allow students to text questions such as ‘How do I use PrintSpot?’ and receive an automatic reply from a computer,” Oliver explained. “If they ask questions that the computer is unable to understand, it will prompt them to talk directly to a live representative at one of our IT Help Desks.”

The work of the ADS team clearly embodies OIT’s motto: ‘Collaborate – Innovate – Succeed.’

 

Stay tuned for more department spotlights to learn about what some other areas in OIT are doing to help the UTSA community!