From the Great Race to Engagement: How UArts uses mobile technology to involve students in campus life

The University of the Arts, a school of about 1,800 students in Philadelphia, kick-starts each year with a campus-wide celebration called UArts Day.

UArts Day encourages students to interact with each other and the school’s faculty and also visit nearby landmarks and businesses in the Philadelphia area.

All these activities are presented in a friendly competition format called The Great Race, where first-year students must complete and document their visits to 50 defined sites on campus and its surrounding areas in Philadelphia.

This past year, the UArts student services department turned to MobileUp Software to help bring the Great Race format to a smartphone app that the department also could use year-round for student engagement once UArts Day concluded.

A Successful Launch

The combination of the Great Race format and the MobileUp student engagement app proved to be a great match for the UArts first-year students.

To start, the app was populated with a list of the challenges to complete including descriptions and directions.

These screens show how first-year students at UArts navigated in the app to the UArts Great Race activity and the details about each challenge and how to complete them.

Students then used the app to document each stop by taking a photo of the landmark or a selfie at the location.

The app added a gamification element by tracking each student’s progress through a leaderboard.

A social element was also available through a photo-based highlight reel of completions that each student could scroll through on their way to the next stop.

These screens show the overall leaderboard of completions (left) and two different views of the highlight reel of completions.

In all, the MobileUp platform recorded nearly 1,700 completed challenges in the span of about 10 hours while the app and activities helped bring UArts’ first-year students together for a fun day of activities that also taught them more about their campus and city.

Q & A with UArts

As the fall semester nears its end, we chatted with Sara Kupferer, Assistant Vice President for Student Services at UArts, about her department’s experience with its MobileUp app for student engagement.

Sara Kupferer
Sara Kupferer


What were your goals and/or problems you were hoping to solve by getting an app for your organization?

A: Our goal was to find an easily accessible way to engage with students. We hoped to increase our programming attendance and provide easier access to resources.

What features of your MobileUp app are most effective/popular with your mobile audience?

Our most utilized features are for events such as Orientation and UArts Day. However, on a daily basis, our most popular feature has been our Dining Menu. Our staff in the Health Office has also found it helpful to be able to pull up the dining menu and talk with students about making healthy choices and meal planning and preparation in a dining facility. We also see a huge spike in the Student Financial Services or Advising features during certain times of the semester.

Here is an example of the Dining Menu in the UArts app.


How do you promote the app to add new users?

A: We emailed all students, reviewed it during training with student leaders, encouraged students to use it during Orientation as a way to check-in and win prizes, and we shared it with families as a way to stay connected to campus resources. We also made it a talking point in offices across campus, so that various functional areas were all encouraging students to utilize the app.

Some of the other features in the UArts app include a campus directory (left), a section for discovering and joining student clubs and organizations (center), and a social media aggregator for the school’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.


How does your MobileUp app help you in your job?

A: Our students have become more informed and we have seen an increase in engagement across the board including new student organization start-ups and attendance in student activities events. We also have generated a great deal of feedback from students that we were not receiving before we had the app in place.

Are you interested in an engagement app for your school?

Contact us at or through our demo request form for more information.