iSchool Capstone

Capstone Projects

2013

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BLAST! The Boeing Library Automated Statistics Tool

The Boeing Company Library was among the first corporate libraries to institute an online chat reference service, known as Ask-A-Librarian. The Boeing Library Automated Statistics Tool (BLAST!) is a custom-built, database-driven dashboard for displaying real-time, visualized metrics about the Ask-A-Librarian service. BLAST replaces error-prone data manipulation and inefficient, time-consuming data analysis with instantaneous, attractive graphs for quickly assessing operations. This business-intelligence tool utilizes the best, non-proprietary code libraries and standards, and was created especially by yours truly to be scalable to other library services. The countdown to performance optimization has begun: 3, 2, 1 … BLAST off!
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Books to Prisoners: Materials Assessment and Donation Requests

Books in prisons have proven to be beneficial for the economic and mental well-being of prisoners.  However, budgets for prison libraries in the United States have been drastically cut over the past decades, even as prison populations swell.  Books to Prisoners is a Seattle-based non-profit that provides free books to prisoners across the country; it operates on donated time, books, and money to fill the 1,200 requests sent every month.  Due to its limited resources, the organization has never created an inventory of book donations or prisoner requests to assess its own needs.  This project sampled and analyzed the content of donated books and prisoner letters.  This information was used to determine the most critical service gaps and contact appropriate publishers to solicit targeted book donations.  Books to Prisoners is now better prepared to request donations, write grants, and support a national population facing dire information shortages.
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Browse and Search in Academic Information Seeking: Heuristic (Expert) Evaluation of a Microsoft Academic Search Web Tool

“Fuzzy search publications” are academic works that hide behind a wall of vagueness, and researchers and students often find it difficult to search for them or evaluate the credibility of the content they found using search tools. This poster presents the Heuristic (Expert) Evaluation for a Microsoft Academic Search web tool that aims to help people find “Fuzzy search publications” through an integration of browse and search. In collaboration with my sponsor, I designed the evaluation process, organized a panel of student experts specialized in User Experience Research and Design, Information Architecture or HCI, and conducted evaluation to get the experts’ feedback on the prototype. My contribution will validate and inform the design decisions of Microsoft Research’s design process to provide better user experience for the customers and users.
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BucketList

It is common for people to have a bucket list, a list of goals they want to achieve before they die. Unfortunately, other than each individual’s personal drive, there is very little that truly encourages them to complete their goals. With the BucketList website, we aim to solve this issue by implementing three main features with the overall goal of encouraging users to check items off their bucket lists more frequently. First, BucketList provides an easy way to track, manage, and organize a user’s list, enabling users to rank their goals and even set completion dates. Second, the social aspect of BucketList allows friends to encourage each other by giving them an opportunity to connect, view similar goals, and complete those goals together. Finally, BucketList offers various limited-time deals and offers pertaining to users’ lists that can be claimed for just a fraction of a goal’s retail price. With BucketList, lifetime aspirations are closer than ever before.
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Canadian Environmental Health Atlas: Visualizing the Link Between Air Quality and Mortality

80% of the world’s population breathes air that is unhealthy. Airborne pollutants from human activities contribute to at least 7% of premature deaths worldwide, primarily from cardiovascular disease. Public awareness about these risks is remarkably limited. Despite efforts to disseminate data about air quality and decades of research correlating pollution and mortality, informational tools that demonstrate the relationship between air and health in an accessible, straightforward manner are scarce. The Canadian Environmental Health Atlas aims to educate and empower citizens and policy makers by revealing the links between environmental toxicants and diminished health. Our contribution to the Atlas is a data visualization that brings to life the relative risks to human health from polluted air. Using estimates of airborne particulate matter derived from satellite imagery, we join air quality measurements and mortality statistics in a geo-spatial format. Our goal is to present complex science through a comprehensible, interactive visual experience.
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Chess Scouter

Inexperienced chess players fixate on small sectors of the board and individual pieces. Visualization is one key to better perception and understanding of a chess game. We present Chess Scouter, a digital chess application that dynamically overlays visualizations onto the board that emphasize and clarify the overall state of the board, pieces, and the relationships between them. We speculate that by visually emphasizing these details, novice chess players will be able to more quickly and meaningfully interpret important threats, patterns, and opportunities, and make better moves. Initial response to Chess Scouter indicates that users enjoy playing with the visualizations and are encouraged to examine the board as a result of them. We will conduct further investigation with a qualitative study on novice chess players to determine the clarity and utility of the visualizations in Chess Scouter.
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ChronoZoom in the Classroom

ChronoZoom is an interactive online time visualization tool dedicated to help envision the temporal relationships between events throughout history and across disciplines. The ChronoZoom team believes this visualization would be very useful for education, and so wants for the tool to be used in schools. However, there have been no prior test cases into how ChronoZoom actually performs in a classroom. Our project addresses this problem by helping two courses at the UW to integrate ChronoZoom into their curriculum. We then analyzed its impact through surveys, interviews, focus groups and class observations. Through our research, we provide recommendations on how the tool needs to be improved to accommodate the environment of a college classroom, and whether or not it is worthwhile for a university to adopt the technology based on student and instructor experiences.
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COG: Schedule Smarter

Being productive and managing your schedule is difficult, more importantly time management shouldn’t take up more of what little time you already have.  Our team has built a smart scheduling app we like to call COG, which takes the existing events in your Google calendar and finds places you can fit in items from a task list you have created. Implementing the idea of smart scheduling means COG also learns from your scheduling patterns (overestimating time, frequented locations, recurring events) and refactoring those observations to create an even more accurate plan for you, even when you might not realize you could be more efficient. Finally, COG is a way for people to build self-awareness about their own scheduling habits and how they manage their time. Through preliminary user testing we have found that COG is not only beneficial but “quickly becomes an everyday part of [a user’s] life.
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Costco Project Metrics

Costco’s Information Systems (IS) department is a vital part of their ongoing success.  To support the company’s stellar growth, the IS department is embarking on major system enhancement projects and taking a closer look at how they manage technology projects. The team needs specific project management metrics that will help them to examine and fine-tune their project management processes over time. Our Capstone project provides Costco a framework of project management best practices, tools and metrics. This toolkit will empower Costco’s IS team to continue their strong tradition of effectively and efficiently supporting core business goals.
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Creating a Shelving Plan for the Collection of the University of Portland’s Clark Memorial Library

The Clark Memorial Library at the University of Portland underwent a major renovation beginning in May 2012 and the library collection was moved to an interim location.  In the new building, the bulk of the physical collection will be located in user-accessible compact shelving.  This project guides the transition of the collection from the interim location to the compact shelving units in the new building.  In order to avoid ongoing collection shifting in the future, the shelving plan was designed based on the anticipated growth of the collection, with larger gaps in subject areas with higher than average expected growth.  The shelving plan will guide the movers as they return the collection to the renovated building in June 2013.