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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

  • Introduction
  • Course Components
    • Project
    • Presentations
  • Experiences and Conclusions
  • 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
course objectives
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
course components
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
  • 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”
project jam sessions
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
project jam sessions8
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
selected projects
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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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)
  • 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
  • Easy for students to make contributions
  • Timeliness of many topics is stunning