THON Thursday: Tech Director Steven Davis

Name: Steven Davis

Major: Computer Engineering

Past THON Experience:

THON 2016: Rules & Regulations Committee Member
THON 2017: Technology Committee Captain, Pass System Developer
THON 2018: Technology Director

Name an interesting, weird, or quirky fact about yourself

I am an extremely picky and plain eater!

What made you want to apply for the Technology Director position for THON 2018?

I wanted to become the Technology Director to make big change within this organization. THON has the ability to make a positive impact on so many people, not just on Four Diamonds Families, but also on students and supporters, too! This year I wanted to give more of my time to THON, and I saw room for improvement in many areas that I thought I could help facilitate.

What are your responsibilities as the Technology Director?

The Technology Committee assists all THON Organizations and Committees by providing software solutions and technical support to help further THON’s mission of conquering childhood cancer. Our software provides vital functionality that enables THON to spread our mission, raise funds, and host events at scale. TECH is responsible for the development, administration, maintenance, and improvement of the THON Information Network, The THON Weekend Dashboard, the THON Online Store, the THON eLearning Management System,, and more.

As the Technology Director, it is my role to oversee 21 Technology Captains, all of whom work extremely hard year-round to keep THON running. We develop completely custom websites and software applications that enable THON to be as successful as it is and as big as it is. Many of our solutions save every THON volunteer time, enabling us to remain a completely student-run philanthropy. Additionally, not only do our efforts save THON hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential costs, they also enable the generation of meaningful data to allow us to improve THON’s future strategy, today.

What do you want to implement in your position this year that’s unique and differs from years past? What are the overall goals you hope to reach with your Committee for THON 2018?

As a Committee focused on continual growth, the Technology Committee builds on and improves our systems year after year. We continually implement new features that benefit the THON community and focus on making sure that our solutions are sustainable and will last for years to come. This year, I hoped to completely replace the Pass System of THON’s past while still ensuring that all of our other software platforms were given the attention that they deserve.

The largest project I sought to undertake this year was the creation of the THON Weekend Dashboard (Dash) and the implementation of scheduled floor passes for THON Weekend. Scheduled passes will enable over 2,800 pass holders to know exactly when they will be able to access the floor. I think that this new type of pass will enable Organization members, Dancer’s parents, or other deserving supporters to gain hassle-free access to the floor, improving the THON Weekend experience for everyone. With the THON Weekend Dashboard, as it relates to floor access, our intention is to give Organization Chairs more control over their Organization’s representation on the floor during THON Weekend. We have created an entirely new suite of tools that enable Chairs to manage their pass lists and see the composition and history of their floor access and Digital Line. Our longer-term goal is to have the THON Weekend Dashboard become a platform that aids in the facilitation of many THON Weekend events. This goal is coming to life as just this year, we’ve implemented new ways to manage Dancer Support Tickets, Captain sleep shifts, a safe dispersal of dancers at the end of THON, and much more. In the future, Dash will continually be improved upon to serve the needs of the THON Community!

Throughout this past year, we have also implemented a plethora of unique features to the THON Information NetworK (THINK) including an entirely new suite of features for the Supply Logistics Committee, a paperless fundraising initiative, online Adopt a Family applications, and so much more.

In other areas, we’ve been exploring and putting into action new ways to make our flagship website more sustainable and easy to update for future years and have laid the groundwork for a new THON Online Store. As THON continues to grow on a national scale, these external websites are essential to our long-term growth and success.

What makes the Technology Committee so cool, fun, and/or important?

The Technology Committee is so important in that every Organization and Committee uses our software in some way. Whether that be using THINK to track fundraising, browsing to learn more, updating a pass list on Dash, or using any of the other hundreds of tools we provide the THON Community, every THON Volunteer interacts with our services in some way, and they might not even realize it!

What makes that even more cool, fun, and important is that behind the scenes there are just 21 Technology Captains that do it all. We really embrace with integrity the principle of being a student-run philanthropy. The privilege of being on TECH is an amazing learning experience, and a tremendous sensation being able to give back so much. Functioning as a team, everything our Committee accomplishes is because of our Captains’ hard work. We build upon and improve the work of past Technology Committees to maintain and provide our services for thousands of people.

Why do you THON?

I THON so that no parent has to hear the words: “Your child has cancer.”

THON is an opportunity to contribute to something so much larger than yourself. I THON so that every student and every volunteer have the ability to give to such an amazing cause; I THON so that every Penn State student can join in on the fight against childhood cancer. Large problems require large efforts and a large number of people. I THON so that my efforts can enable and encourage as many people to join the fight against childhood cancer as possible.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

My favorite THON memory is from the THON 2017 Family Carnival. This was the first opportunity I really had as a THON volunteer to interact with Four Diamonds Families. It was such an amazing experience to see the entire impact that THON has on the lives of these individuals, and I felt so inspired being able to contribute to it!

Per Onward State tradition, if you could be any dinosaur, which one would you be and why?

I would be a robot velociraptor because I’m small, but mighty (and a robot)!

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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