Westmont Magazine Software Engineer Keeps Pitching Innovation
Dante Poleselli ’20 has successfully juggled a heavy academic workload while flourishing in activities outside of class. The talented trailblazer graduated with a double major in data analytics (one of the first) and economics and business with a minor in computer science—all while pitching for the Warrior baseball team.
“Some students achieve high marks in classes without being particularly thoughtful or inspired to independently take next steps with the material,” says Don Patterson, professor of computer science. “But Dante is much more interested in absorbing and using his knowledge than jumping through the next hoop.”
In summer 2018, Dante joined the inaugural team of students who launched Westmont’s Center for Applied Technology (CATLab). They created software for advancement services that dramatically improved systems for donor relations, donor tracking and fundraising. The following year, Dante led a subsequent cohort of students who overhauled the admissions data system, allowing more personalized relations with prospective students and integrating admissions with advancement services.
Salesforce, the platform Westmont uses to manage relationships with donors and prospective students, has promoted CATLab’s incredibly successful add-on applications as an innovative edge in higher education.
Overseeing the team, Dante learned important lessons about organizing people and ensuring they fulfill their responsibilities. “Organizing structures and people is difficult, and I’ve definitely messed up,” he says. “But I’m learning to understand people and find different ways to motivate them.”
Before the baseball season abruptly ended due to COVID-19, Dante had appeared in nine games as a relief pitcher; in 2019 he pitched in 12 games. He picked up his lone collegiate win by getting two key outs in an extra-inning affair against then-No. 13 Oklahoma Wesleyan.
“He’s one of the more mature, thoughtful, selfless people I have had the privilege to coach,” says Rob Ruiz, head baseball coach at Westmont. “His unique ability to blend his academic interests with his passion for baseball really stood out.”
As a fellow of the Westmont Hub (WestHUB), which accelerates entrepreneurial ventures at Westmont Downtown, Dante developed a real-time baseball analytics application that automatically processes data collected behind home plate during a baseball game and displays it for coaches on the field and in the dugout. “While many applications collect general baseball statistics, this application offers tactical advice during a game,” Patterson says. “The ultimate goal is recommending defensive and offensive decisions based on specific conditions within the game.”
Dante says his In-Game Edge started as a fun side project he enjoyed developing. “It supports something I care about, which has motivated me to work as hard as I have,” he says. “I’ve realized the importance of believing in the thing I’m working on. I love baseball, and I love technology, and being able to combine the two has been incredible.”
An intern at Outside Open, Dante earned a job as junior software engineer at the Santa Barbara-based company that provides IT support and consultation.
Dante says he may go to law school in a few years, but he has moved to Orange County to pursue a career in software engineering because he wants to continue to grow and learn. “Working with the developers at Outside Open has shown me the value of being around people who are way smarter than I am,” he says. “My goal is adding value to a product or service I believe in while continually expanding my knowledge.
“I believe God created us to be in community. And when I’m working and playing on teams, I get to be a part of a group of people God has placed in my life. I wish I knew what God’s plan for my life is, but I don’t, and so all I can do is serve and value the people He’s put in my life at any given moment and not worry about the future.”