By Helin Gao
As student groups rush to print out fliers for the upcoming activity fair, a new campus-based mobile app created to promote everything from brunch menus to sorority rushes may soon render this flurry of preparation obsolete.
Founded by Frances Cairns, Campus Quad is an iPhone- and Android-based mobile platform that creates a digital billboard for students to search and share real-time events happening on campus.
“I think there is a giant gap between how students use mobile technology and how universities use mobile technologies,” Cairns said. “My job is not just to create another app, but to build a mobile platform that makes it super easy for students to connect to each other and for the university to connect to students.”
Catalin Voss ’16, StartX–affiliated innovator and CEO of Sension Inc., met Cairns through mutual friends and has since been helping bring the app to campus.
“Students are mobile; students are moving around on campus and they want a community that they can interact with on campus,” Voss said.
While the app is similar to Facebook in allowing students to share photos and fliers, it also allows school administrators to broadcast campus events and opportunities.
“[Students] want a network that doesn’t make them feel excluded and that does not have too much noise of all the facets that are going on and off campus,” Voss said.
Cairns explained that 78 percent of Campus Quad use consists of photographs students take in real time and publish to their feed.
According to Cairns, the Campus Quad team has already talked to representatives from the Career Development Center (CDC), who suggested that the app has the potential to digitalize career counseling services.
“You can just talk to someone on Campus Quad on your internship or the things you want to do versus everyone just rushing to career center to grab someone,” Cairns said.
Representatives from the CDC were unavailable for comment.
The idea for designing the app first came about towards the end of 2011, when Cairns noticed the high demand from student organizations to promote their events.
Her platform allows students to connect their app to multiple lines of communication and platforms, including SMS, email and Facebook. According to Cairns, the team also plans to add Instagram to the list, based on suggestions from student focus groups at other universities.
“Involving a lot of students has been the core value of the company,” Cairns said. “We are about student success and making ways for students to connect and build opportunities for them.”
While the app has been generally well received at other universities, some students have suggested adding more features to the app to suit broader needs.
“The ability to buy things has been asked repeatedly,” Cairns said. “The other thing is that we’ve been repeatedly asked to add a tab on study groups and we’ll probably do it pretty soon.”
Although the app has yet to be fully launched, some students and alumni believe that Campus Quad has the potential to make a positive impact on campus life. One such student is Julienne Lam ’13, operations and marketing director for ClassOwl, an online social academic platform.
“There is no single site where people can find out all the things that are relevant,” Lam said. “Campus Quad uses a very efficient application that empowers students to create their own advertising on an application that can be shared widely.”