Students show real-world impact of Capstone projects

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

A group of 5 students presents at the front of a room.The North Ballroom at the University of Washington HUB was abuzz with excitement as students, project sponsors, faculty and staff, and guests celebrated the announcement of this year’s Capstone award recipients. The May 30 award ceremony was the final activity of this year’s annual Capstone Gala Event. 

Each year, Information School students in the Bachelor of Science in InformaticsMaster of Library and Information Science (MLIS) and Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM) programs participate in Capstone, their culminating learning experience. Students draw from the skills they’ve acquired throughout their degree program to solve a real-world information problem, often working in teams and in partnership with a sponsoring organization.

Dean Anind K. Dey shared that this partnership component makes Capstone his favorite event of the year. “I love how much impact these projects can have by solving real-world problems,” he said.

Three students present in the HUB.Information problems exist in all fields and sectors - a fact made obvious by the range of topics addressed by the more than 160 projects. Students tackled issues such as documenting the personal impact of a library program on young people in their own words, wrangling a legal aid organization’s operational data into usable dashboards to support work processes and financing, reducing bias in hiring decisions, and making organizational impact more visible and transparent through data visualization

Students presented their projects over the course of two evenings, one featuring more than 60 online presentations, followed by more than 100 presentations the next evening in rooms across the HUB.

At the close of the second evening, students and attendees gathered in the HUB and via livestream to recognize this year’s award winners. Most importantly, as Dean Dey highlighted, students’ projects will have long-term impact "on causes and organizations near and far."

Capstone award winners gather after the ceremony, showing their certificates.
Capstone award winners gather after the ceremony.

Capstone Awards

Design Award

This award goes to the project that addresses an information problem by leveraging user-centered design to meaningfully improve upon ease of use, enjoyment, functionality, or integration with existing tools and systems.

Design Award winner - Informatics: Retirement Adequacy Project
Joseph Fran, Ken Huang, Minh Mai, Peter Corroom, Ty Okazaki

Design Award winner - MLIS: The Misinformation Play Pack: Play-Based Educational Resources for Community Information Literacy
Joe Lollo

Design Award winner - MSIM: Last Mile Innovations: Leveraging Smart Solutions for Efficient Amazon Warehouse Audit
Ashwin Jagdish, Sanyam Savla, Siddharth Purohit, Stushi Das

Design Award Finalists:

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Sovereignty (IDEAS) Award

This award goes to the project that explores and engages themes of diversity and identity, power, privilege, equity and inclusion, or sovereignty.

IDEAS Award winner - Informatics: Blooming
Fardouse Marghani, Fardowsa Douled, Jamilah Saleh, Nawal Dhabar, Seblwerk Enyew

IDEAS Award winner - MLISIn Their Own Words: Reporting & Organizing Youth Testimonials of Censorship from Books Unbanned
Danette Jasper, Jessica Roelling, Marissa Fischer, Meghan Foulk  

IDEAS Award winner - MSIMWorkplace Equity: Optimizing Data-Smart, Equity-Centered Work Environments
Emma Grothaus, Gauri Nigam, Vanshika Srivastava

IDEAS Award Finalists:

Innovation Award

The Innovation Award goes to the project that addresses an information problem through demonstrating original solutions that advance or improve upon existing processes, systems, or modalities, while producing the same or better results. Innovation may be characterized as a recommendation or prototype that is faster, cheaper, more effective, or more inclusive.

Innovation Award winner - InformaticsVedette: Streamlining Bug Report Deduplication for Google’s Android Security
Eddy Peng, Harold Pham, Hitanshu Prajapati, Kyle Raychel, Sami Foell

Innovation Award winner - MLISSIFF: Building Your Archive from the Ground Up
Drew Burns, Victoria Rincon

Innovation Award winner - MSIMA Web for All: Generative AI Powered Navigation for the Neurodiverse
Ansh Shah, Nishit Bhasin, Sheel Sanghvi

Innovation Award Finalists:

Research Award

Three women hold their award certificates.
The MLIS Research Award winning team.

The Research Award goes to the project that explores a significant research question related to people, information and technology. Projects may involve original data collection or analysis of an existing data set.

Research Award winner - InformaticsPsychiatric Care Allocation Disparity: King County, WA
Amy Chew, Justin Phan, Meg Balfrey, Nicole Han, Nooha Mohammed

Research Award winner - MLIS: Improving Analytics, Search, and Content Operations: Metadata for
Giselle Shannon, Lily Woodard, Melinda Geist

Research Award winner - MSIMSwitching Your DEI-ET: a Project to Standardize Diversity Reports
Karan Pandya, Ketki Godse, Peter O’Meara, Tarang Pande

Research Award Finalists:

Social Impact and Social Justice Award

The Social Impact and Social Justice Award goes to the project that addresses issues of exclusion, discrimination or other barriers, or that improves quality of life for marginalized or disenfranchised communities.

Social Impact and Social Justice Award winner - InformaticsEmpowering decision-making for Legal Aid Nonprofit: Sound Legal Aid’s Data-Driven Dashboard to Serve Marginalized Communities
Kriti Vajjhula, Priya Hariharan, Saimanasvi Charugundla, Terra Shrestha, Vega Jethani

Social Impact and Social Justice Award winner - MLISBuilding a Trauma-Informed Workplace to Support Library Staff
Ruby Vail, Vivian Edwards

Social Impact and Social Justice Award winner - MSIMAI Potential with Service Requests and Incidents
Dexter Xu, Haocheng Bao, Sophie Deng, Wenjing Li

Social Impact and Social Justice Award Finalists:

The iSchool thanks all Capstone sponsors and iAffiliates partners; alumni, family and friends who attended the event in support of our students; and the event planning and support team.

Thank you to project sponsors: 

360 Social Impact Studios; Alliance of Angels; Amazon Last Mile; Anne Blecksmith, Avery Associate Director and Head of Reader Services at The Huntington Library; Ballard High School; Bigfoot Communications; Boeing; Brooklyn Public Library; Camano City Schoolhouse Foundation; City University of New York’s Office of Library Services; Country Bookshelf; DoorDash; Dr. Judith Henchy; Epic Games; Fishing Comets Farm; Free to Heal; GEN (Gender Equity Now); Grand Père Wholesale Bakery; HEAL-WA; High Point Public Library; Il Viale Cafe; Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation; Jolayne Houtz and Hector Martinez; Ladies Musical Club of Seattle; Lauren Richey, Open Window School; Legal Information Institute: Wex Taxonomy; Library of Congress; Longview Public Library; Marc-André Argentino, PhD; Masters of Science in Information Management Graduate Student, Jichang Cheng; Movie Madness; Museum of Flight; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Open Books; Oregon Health & Science University; PitchBook; reDiscover Center; Sarah Adams, Mom.uncharted; Seattle Girls' School; Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF); Self-Help Graphics and Art; Smartsheet; Sound Legal Aid; Team Read; The Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce; The Trevor Project, Advocacy & Government Affairs Team; U Student Media; University of Washington Art Library; University of Washington Libraries Special Collections; UW Farm; Virufy; Washington State Poet Laureate; Washington Trails Association; Woodburn Public Library (Woodburn, Ore.); iSchool faculty and staff: the Learning Technologies Team, Cindy Aden, Dr. Miranda Belarde-Lewis, Lorcan Dempsey, Marlina Hales, Dr. Trent Hill, Dr. Jin Ha Lee, Dr. Sandy Littletree, Nam-ho Park, Doug Parry, Dr Chirag Shah, Dr. Melanie Walsh, Ph.D. Candidate Yekaterina Yefimova, and Dr. Jason Yip.

And a big thank you to this year’s panel of judges: 

Design Award judges: Dr. Jason C. Yip, Associate Professor, UW Information School; Dr. Martin Saveski, Assistant Professor, UW Information School; Dr. J. Elizabeth Mills, UW Information School. Thanks to the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Sovereignty (IDEAS) Award judges: Dr. Trent Hill, Associate Teaching Professor, UW Information School; Dr. Sam Otim, Assistant Teaching Professor, UW Information School; Stephanie Harris, Business Systems Analyst, UW Information School. Thanks to the Innovation Award judges: Dr. Cris Fowler, Director of Academic Services, UW Information School; Dr. Bill Howe, Professor, UW Information School; Dr. Lindah Kotut, Assistant Professor, UW Information School; Dr. J. Elizabeth Mills, UW Information School; Louis Spinelli, Senior Product Manager, Microsoft; Lindsey Sullivan, Career Services Advisor, UW Information School. Thank you Research Award judges: Dr. David Hendry; Associate Professor & MSIM Program Chair, UW Information School; Dr. Andrew Reifers, Associate Teaching Professor, UW Information School; Michael Grass, Assistant Director of Communications, Center for an Informed Public, UW Information School. We extend our gratitude to the Social Impact and Social Justice Award judges: Dr. Adam Moore, Professor, UW Information School; Sunday Stanley, Director of Faculty Human Resources, UW Information School; Nicole Gustine, Assistant General Counsel, Washington State Bar