Longhorn Data Exchange facilitates shared database among UT organizations

Nikhil Agrawal

Aside from the time spent on class work, many UT students also have responsibilities to the various organizations that they are part of. 

Longhorn Data Exchange is an organization started in fall 2018 that aims to take some of the load off student organization leaders. They host an crowdsourced database with logistical solutions, such as which vendors to cater from or where they can borrow event equipment.

Chemical engineering senior Ethan Freeburg started the exchange after serving as president of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society. Freeburg began collecting data from other organizations, such as social and volunteer activities, catering vendors and banquet venues, and putting it on the Longhorn Data Exchange website. 

“There is a ton of advice that is floating around out there, but that advice is almost entirely communicated by friend networks or transition packets or sometimes it’s just not at all,” Freeburg said. “When people come into new leadership roles, they almost have to start from scratch.”

Chemical engineering senior Pravar Kapoor recently started the student organization Precious Plastics and said he has benefited from the services that Longhorn Data Exchange provides. 

“We were looking for a food vendor, and that was a struggle for us with so many different places to choose from,” Kapoor said. “I checked out the LDE website and instantly had all this information on different caterers and their average prices. That was so helpful for us because we’re still new.”

Jessica DeFreese is a mechanical engineering junior part of American Society of Mechanical Engineers, an organization that has contributed their data to the exchange.

“The data input is really simple. They have a really simple spreadsheet or Google form that you put in, and I think like per event, it probably took three minutes to do everything and send it off.”  DeFreese said. 

Currently, Longhorn Data Exchange data is compiled mainly from organizations in the engineering community. Freeburg has expressed a desire in reaching wider audiences in all communities across UT. 

“Our first big break was in engineering when we had about 30 organizations join and contribute data,” Freeburg said. “We want to expand since many orgs do a lot of the same functions, like everyone has to plan events or order food or recruit.”

Kapoor said he is interested to see how Longhorn Data Exchange grows in size and scope in the future. 

“I’d like to see some organizational structure stuff on there because it’s coming up to the end of the year,” Kapoor said. “We want to keep our org growing and facilitate that the best that we can. Having a good organizational structure is important for that.”

As a new organization itself, Longhorn Data Exchange still has room to adapt and grow over the years. Kapoor said he is excited to see where the organization goes in the future and what impact they will have on the UT community. 

“It’s just great to have this free resource out there,” Kapoor said. “I won’t say that starting an org is easy, but (LDE) definitely makes it easier.”