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Student Innovations Shine at Fall Symposium

2017-12-04
Fall 2017 Symposium

As the sun headed toward the horizon through a crystal blue sky to close out November, projects from students at the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering were opening the doors to tomorrow.

More than 120 projects from SICE undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D. students were on public display during the Fall Projects and Research Symposium held Nov. 30 at the Alumni Hall and Solarium in the Indiana Memorial Union. Projects ranged from robots to coding games and creating applications during the semi-annual showcase of the work being conducted at SICE.

“I loved the diversity of projects—every unit in SICE was represented,” said Katie Siek, an associate professor and one of the organizers of the event. “We had students at all stages of their academic careers participating. Every semester the projects continue to improve—from the project design to the posters to presentations to the interactions with the audience.”

The projects were designed to solve a variety of problems and challenges. One effort, an animated talking robot named Buddy, was developed to help children suffering with speech issues in the wake of cleft palette/lip disorder. The designers of the project, Pavithra Ramamurth and Kathy Li, both second-year grad students in human-computer interaction design, drew on personal experiences. Ramamurth has a sister who was born with the disorder, while Li’s father is a surgeon in China who helps repair the issue.

“I was the unaffected sibling, and I saw my sister go through this her entire life,” Ramamurth said. “My family didn’t have access to a speech therapist. We found that she used to secretly record herself to make herself sound better and better, and we realized that it is a real problem.”

Li grew up around kids dealing with the speech issues that arise from the disorder, and the women used their experiences to create a robot that interacts with kids in a home setting, provides biofeedback using voice recognition software, and tracks the work being done by the child.

The project, which won honors as the Best Graduate Project, taught Ramamurth and Li to overcome challenges, and it gave them an opportunity to showcase their work, which they hope to someday develop into a marketable product.

“As a designer, we don’t have a lot of experience in coding,” Li said. “It was difficult for us to learn a system from zero to building what we wanted, but it was a process that we enjoyed. It helped us improve our research skills.”

Gabriel Lahman, a sophomore in computer science, studied the social aspects of phishing scams, and he presented a poster on his work. The research taught him to better allocate his time and hone his techniques.

“What I learned is that if you force yourself to think about something for a long time, you start to draw conclusions that you wouldn’t have otherwise drawn,” Lahman said. “I can apply that to anything from homework to future research.”

Cassie Kresnye, a first-year Ph.D. student in informatics, was involved in a pair of projects, one involving support for women following miscarriage and another that created an app that integrated a health tracker and social event platform for a dog park. The varied research she faced taught her multiple skills.

“Both projects taught me about deadlines and how to design items for different populations,” Kresnye said. “Both were about discovering the needs of users, but they were obviously very different audiences. The experience of doing the work is going to help a lot. I already feel like I’m getting better and faster at research, and these projects helped move me forward.”

A group of two freshmen and a junior who are first-year students in SICE’s intelligent systems engineering program created a security robot for homes and businesses. The project was a challenge, but it also provided them experience they know will be useful in future careers.

“They throw you out there into a project, and you have to sink or swim,” said Sam Heaps, a junior. “You have to learn quickly. You’re given guidelines, but the project teaches you to be self-sufficient and learn how to overcome the challenges you might face. (The ISE program) wants to give you hands-on experience on how to learn and how to research and work as a team.”

Laural Stone, a freshman, learned a lot about integrating hardware and software, and she learned to be self-sufficient.

“I was used to high school where they hold your hand for everything,” Stone says. “Integrating a bunch of microcontrollers and sensors was difficult at first, but eventually it clicked for all of us. We’ve learned a lot about personal research and following simple guidelines.”

Paulette Koronkevich, a junior in computer science who took home the top award for the best undergraduate project, showcased a coding method that transforms programmed language into the continuation passing style (CPS). Her project grew from her love of one of her classes.

“I really love the compilers course,” Koronkevich said. “Being able to find a feature in the Racket language and implement it in my own little language was really cool. I loved it.”

The 2017 Fall Projects and Research Symposium continued to enjoy growth. Last year’s event saw 85 teams take part featuring nearly 250 students. This year, 121 teams presented with 319 students involved. The event is also making an impact.

“I met a few students who presented at our first symposia three years ago, and they mentioned how motivating it is to have other community members experience their projects,” Siek said. “A couple of students this year asked how they could take their project to the next level, such as a conference presentation. I love the energy and momentum the symposium gives to students—especially when we are so close to the end of the semester.”

Students will next have their opportunity showcase their projects during the Spring Projects and Research Symposium held in April.

Fall 2017 Projects and Research Sypmosium Winners

Best Graduate Project

Team: Speech Ninjas; Pavithra Ramamurth and Kathy Li
Project: Robotic Design for Speech Therapy and Social Development : Children suffering from Cleft lip and Palate disorders

Best Undergraduate Project

Team: Paulette Koronkevich
Project: One Weird Trick to Compile Call/cc

Peoples and Judges Choices

Most potential to benefit the IU community
Team: Through the Wire; Adam Hughes, Chidubem Anuebunwa, Yu Li
Project: CAPS Scheduler

Most potential for social good
Team: Puzzle Walk; Daehyoung Lee, Alison Cheng, Sachin Kariyattin, Sneha Tilak
Project: Physical Activity App for People on the Spectrum

Best Visualization
Team: Limeng Liu
Project: Data Visualization in Customer Behavior

People’s Choice
Team: Smart e-Breathalyzer; Aehong Min, Anurag Jain, Pratik Jain, Stella Jeong
Project: e-Breathalyzers Made Smart

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kbikoff@indiana.edu