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Student brings sustainability to business


May 19, 2010

Roman Wroclawski is living up to ASU’s ideal of “social embeddedness” – the goal of getting university students, faculty and staff to put their education and expertise to work in the community beyond campus. 

A senior majoring in computer systems engineering in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, Wroclawski is using his skills to streamline operations for a local small business. Download Full Image

Wroclawski has been building computers as a hobby since he was 12. So five years ago when he was hired as a swim instructor by the Hubbard Family Swim School in the greater Phoenix area, it didn’t take long for his computer expertise to get the attention of the school’s owners. He soon was given the job of information technology director.

While updating the school’s website, Wroclawski says he got frustrated by a lack of organizational management. There were problems caused by constant paper shuffling, inconsistent record-keeping and out-of-date documents – all of which was detrimental to the school’s operating budget.

His response was to create a system he called The Binder, specifically tailored for a swim school business. It was “no-distribution” process for all three locations of the school’s swimming facilities that eliminates faxing and printing out paper records.

Wroclawski describes The Binder as an interactive notebook that contains training and operational material that can easily be updated without using paper.

“His technological innovation has set us apart from thousands of small businesses around the country for our ability to run our business more efficiently,” says school owner Bob Hubbard. “We now have an extremely consistent methodology for our operations.”

An example of user- friendliness of The Binder: When Wroclawski traveled to Poland he was able to access the system and work for the Hubbard Swim School while overseas.

He sees the accomplishment as not only a cost-savings success but a model for sustainability.

“Every paper I could save was a positive step in the direction of going ‘green’ and sharing my passion of conserving [resources],” Wroclawski says. 

In May, Hubbard Family Swim Club owners Bob and Kathy Hubbard are attending Australia’s World Aquatics Center Conference, where they will be featured speakers. Representatives from more than 300 schools from Australia and New Zealand are expected to attend.

In one presentation, the Hubbards will showcase Wroclawski’s innovative organization system for swim schools. Using Skype, Wroclawski will address conference participants and answer questions.

“One thing I focus on that a lot of computing engineers forget about is the human factor,” he says.   He continues to ask everyone from the receptionist to the school’s retirees how the website is working and what can be improved.

When he’s not busy with engineering classes, swimming and working at the swim school, Wroclawski can also be found volunteering for various community and school efforts.

He volunteers at the Community Economic Development Alliance, a Tempe-based nonprofit organization that runs an emergency food assistance program and provides housing services to the disabled homeless. He’s helping reorganize and build a new and more user-friendly website to promote the organization, recruit volunteers and expand food storage.

Last summer, he helped with the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at ASU by making a camp guest book.

Patricia Smith, a K-12 outreach coordinator for ASU’s engineering schools, which organizes the summer camp for middle school students, describes Wroclawski as “an ambitious, insightful and compassionate individual, who is already making a significant positive impact on his community. He is one of those people whom I expect will change the world in a great way in the coming years.”

Naala Brewer, a lecturer in ASU’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, one of Wroclawski’s teachers, says his class work demonstrates an acute attention to detail and the ability to understand connections among a diverse range of topics.

“I'm sure this is why he is able to apply his education to real-world situations,” Brewer says. “I am not surprised at his success building and implementing a computerized distribution process for the Hubbard Swim School.”

Written by Jessica Graham

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

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