Vesta Application Aids Student Housing Selection Process

May 30, 2019

Yale College reached an important milestone this year. This is the first year that all 14 residential colleges managed their housing selection process through a unified system. Vesta, a web-based application, allows college deans and administrators to manage the student housing process in a straightforward, modern way.

Vesta was first piloted by Ezra Stiles and Davenport colleges in 2017. In 2018, seven more residential colleges used Vesta for their housing draw process. This year, the Vesta site saw a 50% increase in traffic, as well as an uptick in individual student visits to the site throughout the housing process.

Each year since its creation, the Vesta team gathered feedback from deans, administrators, and students to improve the product. This year marks the addition of significant quality of life upgrades including:

  • fine-tuning intent declaration functionality
  • the ability to manage housing data across multiple years
  • SID information for easier uploads into Yale’s Banner system

New customization allows colleges to keep the history, culture, and traditions surrounding the room selection process. Additionally, the team delivered improved documentation and support in the form of robust training, documents, and the integration of ServiceNow issue tracking.

Student developers employed by the Student Developer & Mentorship Program (SDMP), in collaboration with ITS full-time developers, created Vesta three years ago. In the SDMP, full-time developers help create educational resources and training curricula for the student workers. After a semester of training, Yale students obtain ownership of development work for applications like Vesta as their primary responsibility. While staff handle trickier coding issues, organize and review code, and work individually with students to answer questions and provide expertise, Vesta was primarily built by Yale students.

By 2022, every undergraduate at Yale will have used Vesta during their tenure as students. Vesta’s reach isn’t limited to Yale’s college housing system. Throughout its development, Vesta has been a top-five trending open-source project on the Gitlab.com homepage. This means that developers all over the world had the chance to witness the development of the product. They can also see first-hand the great work that Yale students have put into making Vesta shine.

Vesta’s success is a result of close collaboration between the Yale College Dean’s Office and Yale ITS. Darice Corey-Gilbert and Blayze Markoya represented the Dean’s office throughout the project. Their contribution included logistical oversight and input throughout the project’s life cycle. Several ITS employees contributed to help make this rollout a success. Matt Coshal acted as lead developer and student mentor throughout his time at Yale. Ashvin Pradhan-Shenoy, an Early Career Development Program (ECDP) intern, held roles of a full-time student mentor and developer. Oren Kanner, one of the original developers of Vesta, served as the manager and technical lead on the project team. Rebecca Schneider performed project management responsibilities.