Kathy Lee and Rebecca Mauldin, new School of Social Work assistant professors, pocketed an award for an app idea.
The duo won the Best Human Services App Idea Award 2018 in June for their app SageServe. The competition was hosted by husITa, human services Information Technology association, an international community whose mission is to promote the ethical and effective use of information technology for human betterment, according to the organization’s website.
“I wanted to be in a field that is going to make a difference in the world,” Mauldin said. “And that’s what social work is about.”
Lee said they did not know each other until after getting jobs at UTA. Lee was in Columbus, Ohio, and Mauldin was in Houston when they began to contact each other via email.
Through their collaboration they came up with the SageServe app. The app aims to provide older adults, especially those with physical limitations or cognitive impairments, opportunities to volunteer in their community to help improve and develop social roles.
“It was very exciting to have success in our first collaboration together, and it got us inspired for our career at UT Arlington,” Mauldin said.
Lee said she became passionate about the impact that volunteering can have on the health of older adults with cognitive impairments while working on her dissertation.
“My goal is kind of to decrease the barrier so that those vulnerable older adults in our society can have more access to those meaningful activities,” Lee said.
The app has a focus on accessibility and virtual volunteering.
Virtual volunteering can be done from home, making it easier for older adults with limitations to participate. An example of what the app can provide is English as a second language courses, where older adults can help others who are learning English practice the language through socializing.
Mauldin and Lee are planning to apply for a grant that can support their app idea. Lee said they hope to launch it by the end of next year.
Maudlin said they are still in the pilot phase, testing out their idea. The two hope to collaborate with engineering and computer science faculty and students at UTA.
“I’m excited about joining the community,” Mauldin said. “I love our principles of community. I’m incredibly impressed with the faculty and the students.”
Truc Nguyen, social work graduate student, said winning the award shows all the experience the two professors have, but it also represents how hard they work.
“Students see that passion,” Nguyen said. “It helps them have that motivation to go through courses, learn themselves and have that same kind of drive and passion to work just like the professors do.”