uConnect App

An app to help first year university students meet and connect with other students


COVID-19-related campus closure has impacted nearly every aspect of the student experience. Students will need to be adapt to an online model or be suspended

We wanted to improve the online experience of meeting and developing stronger professional relationships with other first year students who share their same interests

This project has won the BrainStation & Ernst & Young Sprint Competition among 121 students 


3 day sprint


  • UX research
  • Ideation
  • Design direction


  • Zoom
  • Trello
  • Slack
  • Figma

The Problem

Adapting Online

Being fully online means that the usual student onboarding ceremonies, events, communities, and clubs will need to adapt online model or be suspended indefinetely.


Student Impact

Impacted the most are first-year students, who are at risk of not feeling immersed in the campus experience or a part of a larger student community, resulting in loneliness, depression, and other mental health issues.


After some quick research we set our Goal

HMW help students connect over shared interests so that they can create stronger personal relationships that will also benefit them in their professional development

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Undertanding the Impact

  • Students don’t enjoying meeting others through video chats
  • This affects their experience
  • They rather stay local then come to Canada for school

Why was this a big problem?
Because the financial impact international students have in Canada

Research Findings

Major Economy Contributors

Research from the canadian government estimates that they contribute over $22 billion to the country’s economy every year

Job Cuts in Universities

Schools are expecting a steep drop in international student enrolment for the 2020-21 school year, leaving gaping holes in budgets and forcing job cuts

International Students are Essential

Retaining these students is essential, and so we have based this project around international students but all students would be welcome to use the app


We had a few assumtions on how students felt. Therefore we needed examine our assumptions and listen to the students to discover their true pain points, motivations and behaviours.

Following our interviews we were able to gather various insights about how they interact with classmates and their adaptation to digital learning, we have learned the following:

Pain Points

Everyone Is Watching

According to our research, meeting people through online classrooms felt too formal. Every time they talked they felt like if they where in front of a classroom.

No Escape

One on one chats with a new person made the students feel nervious and uneasy as if they couldn’t just step aside if they felt like leaving

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Self Doubt When Texting

Self doubt was something that affected students when interacting due to overthinking.


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Lost Micro-Interactions

Students meet many people during micro-interactions such as (breaks from class, small convos) but these are less common through digital learning.

No icebreakers

Various students where not fans of online icebreakers, but they liked what came out of them

Common Interests

Most students said they met friends through commun interests or commun people


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Most students follow up after class on a messanger platform to ask questions about homework to either the teacher or other classmates

More Opportunities

Canada had more opportunities for future work in their chosen field of study then in their original Country

Better Reputation

International schools have better reputaion then their own Universities back home

Meet Kevin Young

Personality: Outgoing, loves sports and the outdoors
Occupation: 18 years old
From: Poland

Meeting new people now is awkward

"I want to meet new people but video calls are ackward"


Kevin’s first couple days of University were very exciting, but that wore off quickly as all of his classes were online. After a few weeks he was feeling tired, lonely and unmotivated. He didn’t want to attend classes and was missing his friends and his family


  • To have a great University Experience
  • Make new friends
  • Have a great new career


1. Allow him to meet other students online with ease

2. Help him stay connected and motivated through out his program.

3. Eliminate barriers  to meet others and feel accepted


What if students could post school and non-school invites to activities they want to do?

For Kevin we wanted to re-create the way he would meeet other students

He would frist see various cards of people posting their own invites, he could quickly sort thorugh the activities he was interested on and choose who he wanted to connect and meet.

Once he feels comfortable he could post his own invite.

User Story

  1. Student gets an acceptance letter
  2. Arrives in Canada
  3. Bored and lonely
  4. Remembers the app in his acceptance letter
  5. Dowloads it
  6. Finds people and activities he can join with similar interests
  7. He gets a  welcome group message
  8. Sees the details of the activity
  9. He is excited and ready to meet the group



 We all brainstormed on possible ways we could sketch our story 


Agreed on a flow

Switching Direction

To a card base interface with less barriers of entry

Why? Our Probelms:

  • Too many barriers before the user finds what they are looking for
  • Onboarding process is too long
  • Too many questions
  • Not exciting or fun


Card Invites


By Activities


Start Chat


Card Invites


By Activities


Start Chat

uConnect App Demo

In this product demo you can see Kevin reading other student invites and choosing an activity he wants to be a part of. Immediately after sending his request to join he is welcomed into the activity page, and he is ready to start meeting other students with similar interest.