Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Your Cart   |   Sign In   |   Register
Community Search
Latest News: UpDate Articles

Big Data? No Problem: Creating a Data Repository for Accreditation - Jacob Louis (December C'13)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013  
Share |

Accreditation is a process in which certification of competency, authority, or credibility is presented. Jacob Louis (December C’13) certainly proved his competency and credibility when he developed a data repository site for the University of Dubuque’s accreditation process.

Colleges and universities across the United States typically go through an accreditation process every 3-10 years. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the goal of accreditation is to ensure that programs provided by institutions of higher learning meet acceptable levels of quality. The accreditation process requires extensive data collection, program reviews, and the coordinated efforts of several individuals and departments on a college campus.

As UD began to prepare for its upcoming accreditation process, Computer Science and Math Department Chair, Teresa Nickeson, approached Louis, one of two honor students graduating this fall in the CIS department, about taking on a project outside of class. The project was to build a data repository site to collect and manage all of the documents required as part of the accreditation process; to make the process of accreditation easier for the institution. Louis agreed to the project in the fall of his junior year at UD.

The first step for Louis was to look at what other schools were doing and how UD’s processes could be improved. He met with faculty and staff for input.  He even had meetings with staff from UD’s accrediting body. The first thought was for faculty and staff to have the ability to upload documents to the data repository site. "Uploading individual documents was still a time intensive process," explained Louis, "so I decided to write a PHP script (programming language) that would automatically upload files from a network location to the data repository site."

As the basic site developed, other new ideas were introduced. Louis added an announcement section for upcoming meetings and recently posted files. Knowing he would graduate before the accreditation process was complete, he also built in an easy text editor that allows users to edit basic text on the site. One of the more challenging developments of the site was the visual appeal.

At the recommendation of faculty members, a student competition was held in a UD computer graphics class to design the "look" of the site. The student winner, Jon Grobstick, designed a site that featured curves representing the newly constructed Heritage Center. Making the site function as intended with the addition of curved lines was an extremely difficult task. Louis said, "In order to make the site look and operate as intended, the website code was written at a pixel level. It was challenging and time consuming."

The project will help the University of Dubuque go through the accreditation process, but the project also helped Louis prepare for the "real world". "This project shows what I’m capable of in my main area of interest, web development. It also shows potential employers my abilities in this area," explains Louis. The project helped lead Louis to an internship at Group O, a business process outsourcing company, in Milan, IL. Over the summer, Louis did web development projects for companies like Microsoft, Staples, and Michelin. He has also taken on two contract jobs recently.

In regards to his opportunities at Group O, the contract jobs, and his work on the data repository site, Louis thanks Nickeson. "People have contacted her about referrals and she has passed on my name. I haven’t turned down an opportunity yet." These out-of-classroom experiences have had a great impact on Louis' success as a student. Another reason for his success is retired professor Dr. Don Gable. Louis had always planned on a career path in technology, but it wasn’t until he took a PHP programming class with Dr. Gable that he fully realized his future goals. "Professor Gable had a big impact on my career direction," Louis said.

Louis has been an active student at UD. In addition to his computer information technology major, out-of-classroom projects, internships, and contract jobs, Louis is also pursuing a business administration major. He serves as a panelist for new computer science student orientations and works as a tutor and mentor in the Academic Success Center at UD. As Louis prepares for graduation in December, he is exploring job options in the Iowa/Illinois area.

Click here to read more November 2013 articles. 

Sign In
Sign In securely
Latest News