My cohort was the first to graduate from a brand new faculty, the Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation (FTDi) at UTS. As part of our legacy as the first alumni students, a group of us decided that some kind of online network for students in our course would be cool to have. We pitched the idea to the Dean, and she was delighted that we'd come knocking — she was about to start looking for a contractor to build an alumni network for the faculty and we'd turned up offering to build it without her even asking. And so began a year-long journey to create what is now known as FTDi Connect.
We co-designed the system with both staff and students to make sure we delivered a project that worked for everyone. We ran workshops, conducted interviews and did user testing with mockups before meeting with the faculty to agree on the scope of the system before we started buidling the system.
Our group aimed to create something that would help maintain the connection between the faculty and alumni but also provide opportunities for new connections within the broader FTDi system. The platform is designed to facilitate the sharing of work and journeys, the starting of conversations through posts and the creation of new relationships through a rich directory of the FTDi community. For alumni that have gone out into the world, it will provide a deep link back to their roots within FTDi and a connection to those that come after them. For the faculty, it would create a new communication channel and provide valuable information about the progress of alumni, both on a personal level, e.g., staff following our careers, and, as a metric for the performance of graduates. For current students, it's a place to get feedback on their work from the broader community and to connect with those that have come before them. As an example, it could help students find mentors or perhaps an FTDi alum works at their favourite company and could give them an introduction. The FTDi system is a complex web of connections founded on a shared appreciation for creative and transdisciplinary practice. By providing an online platform where everyone can come together, we hope to provide a space for the emergence of new connections, ideas and discussions within the community.
To bring this concept to life, we worked with the university IT department (ITD) and the Marketing and Communication Unit (MCU). We were the ones building the app, but it was going to run on ITD infrastructure and get handed to them over once we delivered the project — it was crucial to work with them and make sure we developed the app in a supported format (Angular, .Net and AWS). By working with MCU, we ensured that the design of our system met stringent brand guidelines and style guides so that it'd be able to be approved for launch.
As part of this project, I was responsible for the overall architecture and front-end development as well as for most communications with ITD. A group of three designers worked on the mockups for the site, and I helped to refine the designs for user experience. A fellow IT / BCII was responsible for backend development.