Photo of iPhone and UCSC appBusy, multi-tasking students can now keep up with life at UC Santa Cruz, thanks to a brand-new free iPhone app with regularly updated campus news, videos, photos, events, and even an emergency feed.

The app—featuring the smiling, bespectacled Sammy the Slug mascot—went live this week, thanks to a group effort involving a current student, a recent graduate, and staff from the University Relations and Information Technology Services divisions.

Associate Vice Chancellor for Communications and Marketing Barry Shiller said the Slug app is a convenient source of information, images, and stories "for people who are already engaged with the campus, or who want to learn more about us."

Among the user-friendly features of this app: a map that uses GPS to help users pinpoint their location in relationship to a UCSC destination; photo profiles of UCSC's people, architecture, and environment; the latest campus news; and an interface with UCSC's online calendar.

The app is the brainchild of Kushyar Kasraie, 24 (College Nine, '09), and current student Jamieson Johnson, 22, who came up with the idea last year.  Johnson is taking time off to work full-time in their company, EZ Axess, Inc

The duo advanced to the semi-finals of the UCSC Business Plan Competition on campus two years in a row—in spring of 2009 and spring of 2010—with their iPhone app idea.

Last year they took their idea to University Relations. Staff in UR's Communications & Marketing group worked with Kasraie and Johnson on a Version 1.0 design and brought ITS and other key collaborators on board. The collaborative effort was also supported by staff from Business & Administrative Services and Student Affairs. 

Use of the app is not limited to UCSC students.

"Alumni, parents–anyone–can also download it," Johnson said.

Kasraie, who majored in business management economics, said the idea of an iPhone app occurred to him when he was still at UCSC.

"As a student, I noticed many people were using iPhones and iPod Touches around the campus," he said.

The app, he added, "allows UCSC to engage students, and the campus community, on the go."

To download the iPhone app, go to: http://www.ucsc.edu/mobile/

The web site also includes information describing how other smartphones can access the application's content.