Information technology students make a difference with capstone projects

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

University of Arkansas at Little Rock students who are completing a minor in information technology are using their skills to help nonprofit organizations and city governments in central and northwest Arkansas. 

The class of 23 students completed six projects as part of their capstone project, which, once defended as part of their portfolio, is the final step to earning a minor in information technology.

“The students were all quite successful at working with professionals in the community to assess their needs and to design and deliver high-quality products to support the missions of these hard-working organizations,” said Chad Garrett, capstone instructor and director of technology and digital initiatives.

Participating students include Zatches Allen, Chase Ballard, Jaylen Callahan, Brooke Davis, Ashi Franke, Colby Hamilton, Eric Holsomback, Layne Huddleston, Addy McClenny, Elvis Mull, Jason Nation, Victoria Pearce, Liliane Poirot, Kennedy Quarders, Zachary Randolph, Christina Redmann, McKenzie Self, Christopher Thompson, Matthew Vang, James Watts, Antwane Wilkerson, Tanaya Williams, and John Yankowskas.

“The course is designed to challenge students to apply the skills they learn in the previous two semesters in a professional setting, complete with ambiguity, frustration, negotiation, problem solving, and ultimately triumph,” Garrett said. “These students now have a unique experience under their belts in which they overcame challenges and created great products as a result of the challenges.”

In Little Rock, one team redesigned Little Rock’s website for the Creative Corridor, an area along Main Street where arts and culture mix in the center of Little Rock. A second team developed a map-based interface prototype website for locating amenities in city parks for Little Rock Parks and Recreation.

Kennedy Quarders, a junior math major, led the team that mapped amenities in Little Rock’s parks.

Little Rock Parks and Recreation does not have an interactive map that allows park-goers to see where they are and what is near them,” Quarders said. “For this project, we mapped three parks: Boyle, Allsopp, and War Memorial. Our mapping included us marking all park amenities with icons, taking pictures, and outlining trails. This project will tremendously help out the park-goers, especially those who are unfamiliar with the park that they are at. Since this was done in a short amount of time, we gave our client working demos, which will eventually be implemented onto the City of Little Rock’s website.”

An additional two teams redesigned the city government websites for Jasper, Arkansas, and Berryville, Arkansas.

Meanwhile, the final two teams worked with historic preservation nonprofit organizations to create new websites for their organizations, which include Preservation of African American Cemeteries, a group dedicated to preserving, restoring, and documenting African-American cemeteries, and Save Hillcrest, a group looking to preserve historic homes in Little Rock’s Hillcrest neighborhood.

Christina Redmann, junior political science major who led the Preservation of African American Cemeteries website project, said the team attended a cemetery clean up and learned how to clean historic headstones as part of the preparation for the website development.

“It was a lot of fun. We met members of PAAC, toured a cemetery in Little Rock, and learned how to properly clean headstones. It was a great experience and helped us to understand our clients better,” Redmann said. “Our main objective was to create a website that served as a resource for individuals who want to work on preserving a cemetery, know more about cemetery preservation, locate a gravesite, become a member of the Arkansas chapter, and many other things.”

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