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Students Design Software for Real-World Clients

Students in the J.D. Edwards design studio course are getting real-world experience designing software that goes far beyond the typical classroom project. Their computer creations serve clients in downtown Lincoln and across the globe.

The projects range from developing networking software for an Italian company to creating “Team Page,” an online clearing-house of information for families and caregivers of individuals with special medical or mental health needs.

The design studio course echoes the goals of the J.D. Edwards honors program, which brings together NU’s colleges of Engineering & Technology, Business Administration, and Arts and Sciences. “Business students learn to integrate information technology, and computer science students learn to better communicate with and meet the needs of business,” says Steve Goddard, assistant professor of computer science and engineering, who oversees the design studio.

The Team Page project was commissioned by NU’s Center on Children, Families and the Law. The interdisciplinary training center conducts research, teaching and public service activities on issues related to child and family policy and services.

“With a team of caregivers … it’s often very difficult for families to keep everyone on the same page. Sometimes the family gets stuck in the middle,” says Gregg Wright, research associate professor at the center. “This will bring them to one spot on the Internet which is especially suited to allow that kind of communication.”

The result is student-developed software that lets teams of doctors, teachers and parents share secure information like schedules, progress reports and team member profiles. There’s even a scheduling feature to facilitate meetings.

“Families of an out-of-state patient can keep current on the status of a loved one by communicating with caregivers online,” says Allison Faber, computer specialist with the center. “It’s hoped the software will eventually be used by school districts or hospitals.”

Students say experience gained through the honors program is already paying off. Other class projects include:

• Designing net-working software for Flextel S.P.A., an information technology company headquartered in Italy. Goddard says the research and development is expected to yield several patents for various technologies.

• Developing medical records software for Lincoln’s MetaLogic, Inc., a software development company located at NU’s Technology Park.

• Creating a web-based interface for the Association of American Universities Data Exchange.

The class is looking for projects for next year. Interested businesses or organizations can contact Goddard at (402) 472-9968, or e-mail <goddard@cse.unl.edu>.

“The goal is to select projects that require a mix of business and software engineering skills to successfully complete,” says Goddard.

— David Fitzgibbon

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