Through crisp, overcast winter days and dark, cold nights, students from the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering worked in relative obscurity on projects destined to someday move out of the shadows and into the public spotlight.
That day has come.
SICE hosted its annual Spring Projects and Research Symposium April 18 at the Indiana Memorial Union Alumni Hall and Solarium, providing a forum for hundreds of students from informatics, computer science, intelligent systems engineering, and other disciplines from across campus to showcase their work. The event included the work of 70 teams of students presenting their Senior Capstone projects, and another 80 teams of graduate and undergraduate students took part in the research fair to showcase their work. Awards were given both by official judges of the event and by the general public in a "People's Choice" vote.
"The SICE Spring Projects and Research Symposium exemplifies what we do in SICE," said Katie Siek, an associate professor of informatics and one of the organizers of the event. "Our informatics, computing, and engineering students collaborate with students from across the campus. Two of our People's Choice award winners, for example, feature teams that include computer science students working with students from business, statistics, chemistry, biotechnology, and piano performance. The collaborations show the way the work done at SICE can stretch to every area on campus."
Projects included applications for the web and iOS and Android devices, while other students showcased work that applied to physical objects, such as an LED strip that could help users learn to play the guitar, a glove using an Arduino Circuit Playground device to create a mobile music studio, and using a 3D printer to model the behavior of nanoparticles. Applications tackled such issues as helping people discover housing and campus clubs, and creating a layout of their dorm room to arrange furniture. Other applications used augmented reality in a variety of ways, and still others were designed to provide a service for IU students in the future.
"I was impressed by the innovation and effort put into the projects," said Lamara Warren, the assistant dean for diversity and inclusion who is also an organizer of the event. "This year's symposium will hopefully inspire other undergraduate students to become involved in research which will result in greater number of undergraduate students being involved in undergraduate research opportunities."
Alex Pegram, a senior in informatics who worked on a capstone project involving the organization of clubs no campus, said the project taught him the importance of teamwork.
"It's going to help me understand how different team members interact in a group setting and adjust to different people's work styles," Pegram said. "That's going to be really important when I move into projects in my career."
Dylan Wendell, a senior in informatics, was part of a group that created a web app to provide students with information about how busy certain areas of the Herman B Wells Library was at a given time. Finding a quiet area to study can sometimes be a challenge in one of the busiest spots on campus, one Wendell's group aimed to solve by determining the number of WiFi connections in each room of the library.
"It's a problem-based idea," Wendell said. "We wanted to produce something for IU that could potentially help other students down the line since we're all seniors. I wanted to give something back, so we tackled an IU problem. This is our best solution for it."
Wendell and his team hope to put find a place for the web app on the One.IU platform.
The Projects and Research Symposium also gave students the opportunity to overcome challenges that might force them out of their original path. Khalea Berry, a sophomore in informatics, initially hoped to create a surface mapping application that involved augmented reality and computer vision in drones, but when some of her equipment failed, she was forced to pivot into developing an app.
"I've been working on a surface detection theme using Google's augmented reality," Berry said. "It's a relatively new framework for mobile AR, and when I first started using it, the surface detection was pretty slow. I started trying to tweak that to make it a little faster. I didn't have any prior experience with AR, and this project really demystified it for me to the point that I can see myself working with it in the future."
Four computer science majors, Josh Grissom, Tianqui Cai, Nick Root, and Shihan Zhang, created a computer model of object-oriented patterns in which they created a game that could run simulations of how a group of individuals could share a pool of resources most efficiently. The solution could help logging companies create sustainable forests or aid others who look to use renewable resources more effectively without running out of resources.
Working on the project taught the group how to allocate their own resources to maximize their efforts. In other words, they became a real-life example of their project.
"It was important for us to break the project down and separate out each piece," Grissom said. "Every problem has sub-problems that individuals can tackle at the same time. That can increase the efficiency and lower the time wasted in completing a project."
A group that included three informatics majors-Jesus Badillo, Jess Divine, and Anna Heine-and one intelligent systems engineering student-Ben Yeagley-discovered that trial and error can be critical when it comes to working with materials. The team put together the guitar project, and they overcame their challenges with a 3D printed ring attached to a sensor that could judge if the right note was being played.
"This taught us perseverance," Heine said. "We nearly gave up on the ring half a dozen times. But we kept working with it, and we eventually found the solution."
The project also created real-world situations that can be applied in future careers. Sedric Banks, Dedric Dennist, and Jacob Farrow created a web application called Graid, which is a capstone project designed to help create a hub of communication for students taking part in a group project. One of the members of their original four-person team dropped out of the project, forcing the remaining trio to pick up the slack. It's the same situation that often occurs in the work world where members of a project team move on to different jobs or leave a company, forcing others to adjust.
"You have to prepare," Banks said. "You have to know what steps are needed. You have to do your research, and when you can't do things yourself, you have to seek out help and lean on others. It's about being a teammate and working in a team environment."
The Spring Projects and Research Symposium continues to grow each year, and Warren believes the trend will continue.
"We anticipate the student participant size of the symposium expanding each year," Warren said. "The scope of the projects were truly representative of the breadth, depth, and interdisciplinary focus of the field of technology, specifically the degree programs in SICE, and we continue to draw the attention of more and more students outside of the school. It's just a great showcase for innovation."
For a list of the winners of the event, see below.
Outstanding Undergraduate Project
Haoyu Shi, Computer Science-Synthesis of acoustic responsive materials
Synthesis of acoustic responsive materials that can enclose drugs for cancer treatment. This enables slower and more direct drug release in vivo.
Joe Stoica, computer science; Ryan Miller, statistics; Andy Jedlicka, informatics-Rebound and Recycle
A basketball-themed recycling game to incentivize recycling in classroom and office settings.
Sebastian Susanto, informatics-Wikipedia and NetworkX
Used Python to scrape data on computer languages from Wikipedia and explored techniques to remove all non-computer languages from the set. With the extension of NetworkX module, the project displayed how the languages are connected in Wikipedia.
People's Choice Award
Amanda Doster, computer science; Jun Woo, finance and chemistry; Will Smith, piano performance; Sinkwon Lee, chemistry-GoGo Dance
An all-inclusive dance platform that requires minimum power and can be used anywhere designed to encourage students to use their smartphones to create a dance game that can increase their activity.
Chelsea Campbell, informatics-Continuous Reinforcement Learning
Exploring topics related to reinforcement learning, especially in continuous action spaces, judging what it takes o train an agent to perform well in continuous action spaces using reinforcement learning.
Zhibo Sun, computer science; Zhongyu Yang, computer science; Mengyuan Li, computer science; Garret Memmer, computer science-Game of Life Object-Oriented Software Method
Research project aimed at discovering the best Java design pattern to solve the Game of Life problem.