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UA’s Scholarship Universe becomes commercially licensed

Scholarship+Universe+Project+Manager+Ken+Downs+discusses+the+future+of+Scholarship+Universe+and+the+benefits+that+come+from+the+resource+on+Monday%2C+Aug.+1.
Jesus Barrera
Scholarship Universe Project Manager Ken Downs discusses the future of Scholarship Universe and the benefits that come from the resource on Monday, Aug. 1.

Scholarship Universe, UA’s scholarship match-making site will soon be available to thousands of students across the country.

UA reached an agreement with the Glendale-based company, CampusLogic, to implement the program in more than 60 schools by spring 2017.

Since its conception in 2009, Scholarship Universe has grown to match students with thousands of internal and external scholarships.

Don-E Merson, senior architect at Scholarship Universe, said the program goes far beyond being able to match students with scholarships based solely on basic information like grade point averages.

Merson said there are at least 284 different qualifying questions that a student can be asked for a better match to scholarships, but the program only asks them a small portion in order to evoke the best results.

“The site will work to match you to the right things,” Merson said. “The first time you fill out your basic stuff, we match you. We only match you to scholarships that are live.”

Scholarship Universe streamlines scholarships by allowing UA departments to integrate its potential awards within the system. All current students and incoming freshmen can apply for scholarships through the program.

To find external scholarships, student researchers at Scholarship Universe use “web crawling,” a process in which they extract a particular scholarship’s URL and research it to vet it later.

CampusLogic currently has three products — a computerized student verification system, a cloud-based financial aid analytics service and a program that shows students how to borrow responsibly while attending school.

Gregg Scoresby, founder and CEO of CampusLogic, said the company is excited to add a fourth product with Scholarship Universe.

“We were impressed with UA’s Scholarship Universe product, and it was clear to us that licensing their technology would accelerate our entrance into this market,” said Gregg Scoresby, founder and CEO of CampusLogic in a press release.

Ken Downs, project manager for Scholarship Universe, said CampusLogic could advance Scholarship Universe’s technology.

“Scholarship Universe will be their fourth product and probably the most advanced that they’re going to have,” Downs said. “So they’re going to be working with us for at least an initial year to help them transition this product to a commercial product.”

Downs said UA’s Scholarship Universe student researchers and developers will continue to work on the software and gain valuable experience, even when CampusLogic takes the product over.

“The work that they’re doing here translates really well to the real world, they get to do things that they wouldn’t normally get to do,” Downs said. “Because there’s only myself and don-E, we’re the full time staff, so they have to help us with everything.”

Downs said student workers “wear many hats” working to develop, bug-fix, learning the software and working with customers. Past students who have worked on Scholarship Universe have been employed by prominent companies like Uber, IBM, Microsoft and eBay, according to Downs.

Shamalee Thakur, a management information systems graduate student, said the hands-on work truly prepares for future jobs.

“It’s also databases — it’s machine learning — so we get a varied experience and we can talk about it in our interviews for our jobs,” Thakur said.

Developers continue to adapt how people can use scholarship universe to interact on different devices.

Akshit Jain, an MIS graduate student said he has been making progress on adaptations to the software’s interface because the software’s consistency on platforms like phones and tablets is important.

“Especially for the students because most of the students use our application on their mobiles as soon as they get the emails and try to login to their phones or iPads,” Jain said.

Overall, Downs said this accomplishment is something for everyone to appreciate and that he recognizes what Scholarship Universe is and what he wishes the future path to be.

“I think it’s just something students can hang their hat on,” Downs said. “Student affairs can hang their hat on, our funders who are student boards, who have given us funding all these years[is] something they can hang their hat on. It’s pretty unique and rare and hopefully it stays successful.”


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