we transitioned to using an electronic application through our Banner system. That system was a bit clunky because it required some verifications and credentials which an outside student wouldn’t have.” RHIT had also lacked the potential insights that its admissions operation could gain from comparative data on previous years. Useful, actionable data “I did not know any characteristic of my enrollment funnel. I did not know my melt rate. I didn’t have a yield strategy. I couldn’t tell you what our typical yield was in any particular year,” Downing said. “I couldn’t give you snapshots on how many students had enrolled at any point in time within the process. I couldn’t take a snapshot in December, in January or in February, and then tell anybody.” Adding insult to injury, since Downing is a process engineer by trade, RHIT’s leadership all specifically expected him to produce the aforementioned data points. “They were really looking for me to provide a process that yielded useful, actionable data,” he said. After initially receiving an email about EngineeringCAS from a colleague in the mechanical engineering sector, Downing consulted with leaders at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), two of the professional associations which partner with Liaison. He also participated in a webinar about EngineeringCAS. Today, Downing is not only a user of EngineeringCAS but is also the chair of its advisory board. “We saw that joining EngineeringCAS was exactly what we needed to do in order to have a more effective system. We can also now see how inefficient our processes were versus what I wanted them to be,” he said. Downing also notes that some alternative solutions which RHIT explored at the time weren’t capable of building a customized module for what the school needed in its applications.
During RHIT’s first admissions cycle using EngineeringCAS, Downing witnessed the benefits of a tighter process driven by automation, allowing his team to save days of time. Greater transparency and accountability “I want to drop our metric for turnaround time from 10 to 5 business days,” he said. “I think we’re doing a disservice not only to the students but also to the process as a whole by holding that data and not making a decision.” Yet saving time is just the start. Downing envisions sweeping systemic change as a result of using a CAS. “I wanted greater transparency. I wanted greater accountability. I wanted greater information. And I wanted access,” he said. “During the summertime, we sometimes get late applications, but often some of our staff — myself included — are on the road or traveling internationally. I don’t think that should stop us from being able to do business.”
Downing also believes that EngineeringCAS will address not only his admissions operation’s costs but also its opportunity costs. A focus on yield “That one-stop, web-enabled cloud- based system was something we did not have in the past,” he said. “I don’t know how many students we may have lost or how much frustration we may have introduced by waiting for an applicant to physically come to our office to get a file, to then review the file, to then send that file back to us through campus mail.” Looking ahead, Downing said he looks forward to eventually attending the Liaison User Conference in order to “talk with CAS users, administrators and other people in this community to find out what the best practices are, so that when we are capturing data, not only would we have data that we can compare internally, but also information that we can compare to others in the engineering graduate area.” He added, “EngineeringCAS can be used to better understand what my actions should be, and for those actions, what my yield potentially can be.”
17 Engineering: Today & Tomorrow | Summer 2020
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