Capstone 2015: Showcasing student ingenuity

The iSchool’s signature Capstone event featured 133 projects from 339 graduating students, making it the largest Capstone ever. Projects were judged to determine which had the most potential for commercialization and social impact. A new Discovery award recognized research projects. Attendees were encouraged to vote for the audience choice awards. (All winners pictured left.)

Held annually, Capstone showcases the breadth of skills and expertise students develop in the B.S. in Informatics (INFO), M.S. in Information Management (MSIM) and the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) programs.

Students create posters to demonstrate how they use technology, analysis and problem solving as tools to solve information problems for organizations and communities.

Capstone project collaborators include organizations from the public, private and nonprofit sectors, and each project represents a concrete example of what it means to design and build novel applications of technology that meet the needs of people.

More than 900 people attended the event, which was held in the Husky Union North and South Ballrooms and Lyceum. Award winners receive cash prizes from the iSchool and sponsoring organizations. This year’s award sponsors included Starbucks, CoMotion, ProQuest and Extrahop. ProQuest sponsored the first-ever Discovery award for projects with a significant research component.

Watch the 2015 Capstone video. 

Award Judges
Social Impact Panel: Chris Coward, Principal Research Scientist and Director, Information School Technology and Social Change Group; David Keyes, Community Technology Program Manager, City of Seattle, Department of Information Technology; Marianne Marck, SVP of Consumer Facing Technology, Starbucks; Will Saunders, Program Manager, State of Washington, (OCIO); Jason Schumacher, Program Manager, Tableau Software; Tim Wang, Data Scientist, Socrata.

Commercial Potential Panel: Mike Clarke, Head of Product Design and Development, CoMotion; Jim Loter, Director of Information Technology, The Seattle Public Library; Mark Mattis, Director of Project Execution, Costco Wholesale Corporation; Ansel Santosa, Front-end Software Engineer, ExtraHop Networks, Inc.; Tammy Wang, Director, Pricing and Customer Analyltics, Zillow Group.

Discovery Panel from the iSchool: Allyson Carlyle, Associate Professor; Michelle Carter, Assistant Professor; David Hendry, Associate Professor; Carole Palmer, Professor and Associate Dean for Research; Jevin West, Assistant Professor.

A Tagboard of the social media tweets and Facebook posts captured the evening's excitement.

Social Impact Award

First place:  Never Forgotten
Informatics: Eric Chee, Young Kim, Wendy Kung, Marco Vertucci
People with Alzheimer’s disease constantly struggle remembering daily tasks. Much of the current scheduling systems still remains paper‐based. In addition, communication between caregivers, family members, and the patient largely happen through phone calls and many events continue to overlooked due to miscommunication. To face these challenges, we proposed to build a kiosk application for the Alzheimer’s patient to use that will digitalize the paper‐based system in place and ease the process through automation. Additionally, the kiosk application will be paired with mobile application for the caregivers and family members to easily track and monitor daily events. Our features aims to make a difference by lessen the cognitive load of the user by creating a one‐place‐to go therefore, replacing the confusing paper‐based system. Respectively, this will help the patient be more independent thus, helping the caregivers through shared reminders and calendars to see all that is going on.

Honorable mention: Step Stone
Informatics: Gino Clement, Cveton Damyanov, Daniel Nakamura, Nikki Nikkhoui
With a 21% increase in homelessness over the past year alone, the resources available to Seattle’s homeless are now more important than ever. However aside from word of mouth, the ways to find the nearest shelter or free shower are minimal and dated. Step Stone, a mobile friendly web application, is designed as a resource that aggregates information on amenities in the Seattle area. These amenities could be a place to sleep, get medical aid, or even a place offering free bus tickets. Additionally, Step Stone tracks and displays the capacity of participating homeless shelters in real-time, helping users decide where to seek shelter. Coupled with SMS and email capabilities for institutions to send news and updates to users, Step Stone is the ideal tool to give Seattle homeless the vital information they need, when they need it.

Commercialization Potential Award

First place: Achilles
Informatics: Amber Amin, Robby Brosman, Xavier Byrd, Staffan Hellman, Caleb Thorsteinson
The $30 billion physical therapy (PT) industry is projected to growB 7% annually (HarrisWilliams&Co.). Despite this growth, current PT practices often leverage low-tech guidance, involve minimal patient-therapist communication, and do not provide a means for accountability. The PT industry is on the rise, and it’s time for PT technology to catch up. So, how do we help physical therapists serve their patients while guiding and motivating patients to get better faster? The answer is Achilles, a fully customizable physical therapy application that amplifies the patient-therapist relationship to provide guidance and motivation throughout the rehabilitation process. The therapist interface provides consistent insights into patients’ at-home progress as provided by the patient interface, effectively bridging the gap between office visits. Achilles augments the physical therapy experience and in turn, patients are able to better manage their injuries and get better faster.

Honorable mention: VROOM
Informatics: Joze Gonzalez, Marissa Ho, David Phillips III, Stephen Ramirez
VROOM is a Head-Up Display (HUD) that enables a safer driving experience. HUD systems utilize projection hardware and reflective displays to put data on car windshields. Their position on the windshield enables quick information recognition so drivers can keep more focus on the road during travel. VROOM is a HUD controlled with voice commands, which seamlessly integrates into a user's natural driving habits. Our application also prompts drivers to stop for gas sooner than their tank will hit empty based on environmental factors and driving habits. Our technology increases the visibility of energy consumption and car diagnostics to drivers while enabling informed drivers to create safer driving habits. UW EcoCar will be adapting our custom hardware and software for use in their next competition car.

Discovery Award

First place: Wikitree
Informatics: Alex Burner, James Prow, Christina Xiao
Wikitree is a web application built to help undergraduates with their research. Wikitree tracks and organizes the user’s browsing history through Wikipedia articles. Wikitree is unique because it emphasizes mental connections the user makes on their journey. Wikitree aims to stay adaptable for each individual’s research goals. Our research and user testing revealed many struggles. Undergraduates struggle to dive deep into one topic while staying aware of the big picture. They struggle to mentally categorize connections between different topics during early stages of research. They struggle with feeling overwhelmed by the amount of material encountered, and finding a clear vision within. Wikitree acts as an aid for the user in tracking their explorations. The visualization helps users maintain a high level overview, preventing them from feeling overwhelmed, getting sidetracked, or losing sight of their goals. Special thanks: Mike Freeman, Jeffrey Heer, Jessica Hullman, David McDonald, David Stearns, and Jevin West.

Honorable mention: Indigenizing the Digital Divide
Tess Wilder Cervantes, Karuik, MLIS and Ross Braine, Apsaalooke, MSIM
Throughout this project, our goal was to gather enough data in order to create a greater sense of awareness regarding the technological gap between American Indian and Alaska Native communities and quality network connectivity. Past experience has shown that the coverage is spotty and mostly non-existent in certain towns within our research area—White Swan, specifically. The team used online sources to find coverage maps over the Yakama Indian Reservation and conducted a site visit to the land itself in order to check actual coverage and gather real-time connection readings. Our findings indicate that the big carriers (such as Verizon) are essentially not advertising the entire truth as they offer spotty data coverage. Next steps are to revisit the Nation and deliver this report for them to use as a preliminary study for their own use.

Audience Choice Awards

MSIM: Malavika Ravi, Krista Davis, Liang Huang, Ziquiang Shen
Colliers International, a commercial real estate company, currently faces problems with sharing information across their organization. Their organization houses many data silos which contain important client, deal, and referral information. Some of this data is accessible to employees but much of it is held privately within regional office databases and is difficult to share due to data formatting issues. Their information silos prevent them from capitalizing on opportunities that could be made simply by connecting the dots across databases. Bontology (business onotology) is a unique software that is comprised of three parts: a realtor’s dashboard, custom ontology, and conversion software. Bontology’s conversion software works with our custom ontology to connect disparate relational databases in a triple store. The dashboard allows Realtors to view sophisticated data analytics and houses a powerful internal search. Bontology now provides Realtors actionable items that will help drive profit and identify gaps in current business practices.

MSIM: Colin Greene, Michael Kelly, Prerak Pradhan, Nishant Sinha
Finding the right courses every quarter is a challenge for undergraduate Huskies. To evaluate prospective courses, students depend on information resources that are often incomplete or unreliable. Coursector is an application that helps undergraduates find, compare, and select classes that best fit their academic goals and interests. Drawing from over 200,000 unique records of UW transcript data, our application provides students with personalized recommendations, to quickly narrow their course search, and clear visualization of how courses compare by workload, teaching quality, average student grades, and class demographics. Coursector makes it easy to compare course offerings side-by-side, including the same course taught by multiple professors. With Coursector, finding the perfect course is easier than ever.

​​Informatics: Matthew Hutcherson, Adam Moshcatel, Megan Rawley, Michael Slagle
Impuls is a map based event location service that strives to provide users with all the information they need in order to find local events. People shouldn't need to spend hours planning a simple evening, and they're too busy to think about it several days in advance. There is a better way to plan a night out, connect with friends, and just have fun. No more scouring endless websites to find local events. No more hours wasted on tedious planning details. With Impuls, users can find events easily, see full event details, filter events based on their interests and availability, and even post their own events to the map. Impuls is the first map based event location service that is free to use and targeted towards the individual’s spontaneous nature. Finally, people can embrace their spontaneity and feel confident that waiting until the last minute won’t result in failed evenings.

Informatics: Jenny Chen, Michelle Le, Gabby Nikolova, Shengyao Qian
Track’d is a responsive website that helps UW students take better advantage of their time on campus by serving as an informational hub for student organizations and other UW resources to share their events. At UW Seattle alone, there are over 54,000 students who participate in over 800 interest groups, but information about these resources are scattered and oftentimes in obscure locations. Our goal is to facilitate discovery and get students involved by giving them information about everything that’s going on around campus at any given time.