Raikes Design Studio students share project challenges, next steps

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Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013 12:00 am

Members of the Firethorn Golf Club team talk about their app, a project of the Raikes Design Studio.

Today is showtime for the University of Nebraska–Lincoln students participating in the Raikes Design Studio, a capstone class in which student teams build software for local and national businesses, such as Nebraska Global, Hudl, Hayneedle and Microsoft. The class is part of the Raikes School of Computer Science and Management.

In anticipation of today's project showcase event, we gave the 11 teams an opportunity to share their project's challenges, lessons and what's next.

Here's what six of the teams had to say (answers edited for length):



Team: Neema Bahramzad, Nathan Allgood, Caitlin Bales, Paul Graff, Caleb Jares, Jamison Schuster and Taylor Smith

(Answers provided by Neema Bahramzad)

Description: Locabal is a company that helps the creators of hand-crafted, premium products sell online to a global market. The Design Studio project took the company from an idea to a product that is available for use today.

Lesson: The most important lesson I learned from the project was that everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Every time a time estimate for a feature was decided on, the actual time required to complete would be close to double of the original estimate. The team was consistent though, so started doubling every estimate and it proved to be accurate.

Future: From here, the founders will continue working on the company while hiring a couple of students as interns for the summer.

Learn more at raikes.unl.edu

Windows RT Video App for Hudl

Team: Alec Algan, Pat Jackman, Ken Lahm, Danny Eberly, Dan Ebert, Jake Taylor and Elliott McCoy

(Answers provided by Alec Algan)

Description: We were asked by Hudl to develop an application that would allow coaches and athletes to view their sports video on Windows 8. A large portion of their user-base watches film on the go, and the online portal is based on Silverlight, which Microsoft is not supporting on Windows RT, the version of Windows 8 it uses on its Surface tablets.

Lessons: Above I described how important coach feedback was to our project. The very first day of our team time, we had a session with Hudl designers that explained just how to solicit feedback from coaches and how to evaluate a coach's use of the app. It took us a while to get over bad habits—for instance, asking a coach directly if they want a specific feature. We eventually got the hang of it, and developed new ones—like getting a grasp on how the coach uses the application. Another thing we learned to do was watch what they did when we asked them to try to perform an action they were unsure how to complete, as opposed to just allowing them to give up and performing the action for them.

Future: We launched a beta version of our application to the Windows Store within a week of Windows 8 launch, less than a month into the project. We've since released 15 more times and officially launched with version 1.0 on April 3. From my understanding, Hudl will add a feature or two to the application over the summer, and then leave it mostly untouched through next football season.

Learn more at raikes.unl.edu

Project Scorpion for Fiserv Bank Solutions

Team: Megan Vokal, Justin Pflueger, Jed Dumire, Sara Benning, Stosh Getzfrid, Kevin North and Charles Cihacek

(Answers provided by Megan Vokal)

Description: We created an internal application for Fiserv for their bank consultants to use when presenting to their clients. The application compares the bank's current financial standing to a projected standing based off of input variable to help the bank decide what direction they should take with their products.

Challenge: One challenge we faced was managing client expectations. Initially, though we thought we had communicated the requirements from our client, we would end an iteration realizing they had different priorities or expectations than we thought. To overcome this, we focused on getting continuous feedback from our client, having them list tasks according to priority, and reiterating our understanding of the requirements every step of the way to make sure that everyone was on the same page.

Future: The product will be used by Matt Anderson, the bank consultant on our client team, during his presentation when he consults with his bank clients. There is also a strong possibility of it being adopted by other consultants on his team.

Learn more at raikes.unl.edu

Mobile Social Network for Golf for Firethorn Golf Club

Team: Eric Hess, Aaron Brodersen, Ben Tiggelaar, John Hotovy, Mike Varilek, Nick Graef and Nick Varilek

(Answers provided by Eric Hess)

Description: Our design studio project was a mobile scoring app for Firethorn Golf Club. It allows golfer to score their round of golf via a mobile device and be viewed from a website where others can comment on the golfers round.

Challenge: A major challenge was developing an app that would be easy for the golfer to use and not slow down the pace of play. Many golfers today are from an older generation and unfamiliar with how much mobile technologies can do. Our solution needed to be easy enough for anyone to use that golfers would choose to use our app over the traditional paper scorecard.

Future: Nick Graef and I will start working on the project again full time in May and market it to other courses in the area. We hope to continue working with the Raikes School and enhance the product through future Design Studio project in addition to the work Nick and I will put in on developing the next stages of the product.

Learn more at raikes.unl.edu


Business Analyzer on Windows Phone for Microsoft Dynamics

Team: Olivia Lambdin, Christine Yost, Dan Dugan, Brian Grieb, Marco Perches, Daniel Baylog and Trang Do

(Answers provided by Olivia Lambdin)

Description: We were presented the opportunity of expanding Microsoft Dynamics GP's Business Analyzer solution to the newly released Windows Phone 8.

Challenge: A major challenge we had to overcome at the beginning of the year was creating a service that authenticates Microsoft's ERP customers off of the company domain, allowing them to pull reports to their mobile devices on-the-go.

Lesson: Client communication is key to success.

Future: Microsoft Dynamics GP will take over the project and prepare it for placement in the Windows Store.

Learn more at raikes.unl.edu


PICASO for Pen-Link, Ltd.

Team: Ryan King, Will Coover, Matt Stubblefield, Brett Mahnke, Steve Voznyuk and Joe Echtenkamp

(Answers provided by Ryan King)

Description: PICASO is a new web-based analysis product for Pen-Link, Ltd. targeted at smaller agencies, attorneys, and private investigators who may not have the resources or expertise to purchase expensive software packages. Users can upload files such as subpoenaed records or telephone bills and select questions to ask of that data. Pen-Link then uses their existing technologies and expertise to produce a report with the information users need.

Challenge: One of our biggest challenges was scoping and defining the project. We began the year with high ambitions, but a loosely defined goal. As we explored the space, we realized that automating the subpoena process was both beyond our team's capabilities and raised legal questions about storing and transmitting sensitive data. After refocusing our efforts on making analysis easy for people unfamiliar with the field, we created a stylish web application for Pen-Link to use and possibly extend.

Future: Pen-Link is doing internal reviews of the project, ironing out any lingering bugs. They plan to introduce the product to a few potential clients in the near future. If they receive a positive response from users, the Pen-Link team will begin work on automating the analysis process.

Learn more at raikes.unl.edu

Here are the studio's other five projects:

To learn more about the Design Studio, see our past coverage:


Credits: Photo courtesy of Eric Hess

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