An Undergraduate Research Course Aimed at Furthering the Web
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An Undergraduate Research Course Aimed at Furthering the Web Michael Wollowski Computer Science Department Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Overview Introduction Course Components Project Presentations Experiences and Conclusions Introduction Web offers a new frontier

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An Undergraduate Research Course Aimed at Furthering the WebMichael WollowskiComputer Science DepartmentRose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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  • Introduction

  • Course Components

    • Project

    • Presentations

  • Experiences and Conclusions

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  • Web offers a new frontier

  • Many technical, social, and legal challenges left to be addressed

  • Low lead-time to make contributions

  • Students are fascinated by web

  • Students can shape the web’s future through:

    • research

    • innovation

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Course Objectives

  • In our department, students usually do not get an opportunity to choose their own projects

  • Our students are very good at solving problems

  • In this course, students learn techniques that assist in selecting and evaluating interesting projects

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Course Components

  • Setting our sights: A look at some innovators

  • Analysis:

    • What is the web?

    • Where might it be headed?

    • What would a future, dominated by the web, look like?

  • Innovation and research: Team project

  • Keeping current: Presentations

  • Learning about tools: Introduction to major web-technologies such as Perl, XML, database interfaces, search engines

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  • Accepted way to learn at RHIT

  • Students determine their own project and group

  • Innovation/Research: Can be anything, provided it advances the web

  • We spent about three weeks on the project proposal phase

  • We had several “jam sessions”

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Project Jam Sessions

  • In them, students presented ideas for possible projects

  • Goals of jam sessions:

    • To obtain feedback on whether project has already been undertaken

    • To identify project partners

  • First session:

    • At end of first week

    • Anything goes

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Project Jam Sessions

  • Second session:

    • At end of second week

    • Students were asked to start forming groups

    • Students were asked to perform some initial research as to existing solutions

  • At end of third week:

    • Project proposals were due

    • Feedback was given over weekend

    • Some projects were rejected

    • Most project proposals were very interesting

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Selected Projects

  • Web-driven Soda machine: Received local and national media attention

  • RHINO: Integrating existing information services into one, adding security, solving confidentiality problems. This system is in the process of being adopted by RHIT

  • P2P: To reduced internet traffic and deal with the limited internet pipe

  • I/R port for web-driven soda machine

  • Graphical query editor for boolean search expressions

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  • Everyone had to give a presentation of recent newspaper clippings

  • Presentation had to:

    • Summarize contents

    • Indicate how the work can be applied to other areas

    • Get a discussion going

  • Aim of presentations:

    • Underlining the importance of keeping current

    • Look for cross-fertilization

    • Learn to quickly gather information

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  • Major areas of presentations:

    • Shopping

    • Virtual classroom (performed in a virtual classroom)

    • Networks

    • Confidentiality and security

  • Side-effect: Discover topics students wished they would have proposed for project

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  • Additionally, students were encouraged to report on interesting web-sites as they encountered them

  • Students were encouraged to report on timely topics

  • A good number of them did

  • A good number took advantage of those reports ( to get to know people, obtain ratings on their professors, and self)

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  • The timeliness of many topics is stunning.

    • Town-hall meeting on Bandwidth problems and how to address them

    • Confidentiality of student picture scripts

  • Students in one way or other caused RHIT to address these issues

  • Students actively sought to find solutions to those problems

  • Lessons learned:

    • Our work does make a difference

    • Road bumps are not always of a technical nature

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  • Easy for students to make contributions

  • Timeliness of many topics is stunning