Virtual Reality played role in a number of projects.
The informatics undergraduate program at the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering spends four years preparing students to use technology to solve real-world problems, each class building upon what has come before it to provide the tools needed to impact the world.
All the ways those tools can be used were on full display at the Informatics Spring Capstone Fair in Presidents Hall at Franklin Hall April 18, a showcase of projects from senior informatics majors that included web, iOS, Android, and virtual reality applications. A total of 71 groups presented their work, which was born out of the two-semester capstone project class that asks informatics students to solve a specific problem for a local individual or organization, or find a broader solution for an issue involving the world at-large. The project serves as a demonstration of all informatics students have learned during their time at SICE and is a requirement for graduation.
“The most impressive part of the work done across the two semesters is how far each of the teams has come,” said Logan Paul, a SICE lecturer who is one of the leaders of the capstone class. “From their initial idea at the beginning of last fall, every team executed on that idea by learning a new platform and came to the fair today ready to show off what they built.”
Projects at the event included an online voting platform for secure elections, a virtual reality application to keep patients confined to intensive care units mentally engaged through the use of a driving simulation, an application that allows individuals to list unused parking space on their properties, an application to ease the stress of international travel, and more. Students learned as much about themselves as they did about the subject matter of their projects.
“Communication is everything,” said Samira Naderpoor, who worked on the international travel website. “You have to communicate every step of the way, and you have to constantly be talking and seeing what other people in your group are doing. That’s going to help me a lot going forward.”
Michael Jacobucci, whose group created an app to follow IU athletics, took the opportunity to stretch his knowledge and learn how to overcome issues through independent research.
“We had to teach ourselves Swift, the language iOS uses,” Jacobucci said. “We learned that if you persevere and keep going, you can get it done. This class is at the perfect time because although it’s the hardest, most time-consuming class we’ve taken, in the real world, you’re going to be on projects that push you, and you have to work through that.”
Ryan Cronk worked on a project that used virtual reality for psychotherapy for patients with addiction issues. He had step outside of his comfort level to reach his goal.
“I had never done VR before,” Cronk said. “We had the idea of bringing the addiction crisis into this, and it was lot of coding, a lot of finding new things out. It’s a very new field. A lot of this was our own problem solving, having to go out there and find the resources and bring everything together.”
Alivia Coon was part of a group that created BloomingHeart, an online hub to find Bloomington-area charities and non-profits where users can donate, volunteer, or just learn more about how they can help their community.
“It can be frustrating to want to help in some way but not know where exactly to turn,” Coon said. “It was really enjoyable to do the project because we got to pick what we wanted to do, and we wanted it to work because we believed in it.”
Lanyu Shi, who also was part of the BloomingHeart project, enjoyed the opportunity to work with organizations in a real-world setting, providing a glimpse of what her future may hold in a career.
“We learned a lot from programming and in terms of speaking and becoming better communicators,” Shi said. “We got a lot of practice on the front-side of the project and had to work together to make everything work right.”
Ashley Talesky’s team created a website for the Bloomington Creative Glass Center, a non-profit organization committed to art education. The opportunity to take a project from inception to completion was a first step into a broader world.
“As a student, we’ve never done anything where you’re doing back-end, front-end, start-to-finish, no templates, anything,” Talesky said. “You have to come up with all of the content. I think you learn how much you can do in a short time. You learn how to pace yourself, and you learn how to correct course when things go wrong. This gave me a lot of confidence.”
Mason Siwa, whose project focused on an online guide to where students can eat on the IU campus, said learning how to work with people he already knew in his personal life will prepare him for his career.
“The two big things we learned were time management—learning how to create a schedule and actually adhere to it without waiting until the last minute for everything—and being able to hear criticism from our teammates and take it in the right way. We started off as friends, but when you’re working in a professional setting, it’s important to work together and listen to each other the right way. Everyone is trying to help everyone succeed, and if you receive constructive criticism about your work or idea, you have to understand that it’s not personal. I think it’s good to learn that in a class setting as opposed to already being on a job.”
Paul hopes his students have built some confidence thanks to the class.
“I think the most beneficial outcome of the capstone class is understanding that with time, effort, and dedication, they can all tackle any challenge – whether that is learning a new programming language, revising their design to be more intuitive, working with large sets of data, and even working with one another to complete a challenging task,” Paul said. “This will be especially handy for each and every one of them after they walk across the graduation stage.”