Newsletter of the Association of Library and Information Science Students (ALISS)




 title of the newsletter: The Silverfish


June 2004

Vol VIII Issue V

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iSchool Student Spotlight: Matthew Nevitt

Silverfish: What did you do before you came to the iSchool?

Matt: Before I came to the iSchool I was pursuing a degree in the UW business school. While taking an accounting class I came to the realization that I didn’t need (or want) a business degree to be an entrepreneur. I had started a few small businesses while I was still in high school – one of which is still going: Check it out if you want the best prices for contact lenses.

Silverfish: Why did you choose the Informatics program?

Matt: I choose the Informatics Program because it seemed to have the most interesting content of any undergraduate program at the University. I had always been comfortable with technology but I didn't exactly want to be a programmer. Informatics seemed to be the program that suited my interests the best.

Silverfish: What are your hobbies outside of school?

Matt: I like to skate, mostly on the street (not in skate parks). I also go snowboarding whenever I can get up to the mountain. I go climbing, but usually just free climbing without ropes because that takes too much time and I don't own any of the equipment. After doing lots of hardware hacking for my capstone project I have become really interested in hardware re-engineering. I like to go backpacking, camping, canoeing, rafting, etc. I work on future business plans and ideas almost on a daily basis. There are a lot of other hobbies I have outside of school but that is probably a good enough list.

Silverfish: What is the topic of your capstone project?

Matt: Real-time Action Tracking System (R.A.T.S.). [The objective is to] creat[e] a solution for accurately tracking and displaying important statistics for half-pipe competitions; in real-time.

Silverfish: What was the experience of putting the project together like?

Matt: Putting the project together was one of the most challenging and time consuming things I have ever done. We worked on the project nearly everyday during the ten week quarter, and many of those days we worked through the night. Being made up of mostly skateboarders our team was very passionate about the project and we were willing to do work our asses off to get a working project. None of us had any electrical engineering background, and none of us had strong programming skills both of which were needed to get the project done. We had to learn as we went and consult experts in various fields whenever we could get a hold of them.

Silverfish: What is your favorite thing about the project?

Matt: My favorite thing about the project is that we have achieved a fully working prototype in ten weeks. We knew in the beginning that we "bit off" way more than we could chew, but that just made us work harder. We had a very elaborate project that we needed to build, but we didn't have the experience or the tools to realistically achieve what we ended up achieving. We had to scrape together and reengineer parts and materials that we could get for really cheap or for free. One of these parts was a set of infrared photoelectric detectors salvaged from a torn down building which we had to figure out how to get working and then re-engineer to get them to work the way we needed them to. The only reason we achieved a fully working prototype in ten weeks was because of the amazing persistence of our team and the way we worked together so well.

Silverfish: What was the hardest part of working on the project?

Matt: Working with four peoples' schedules, not having a budget, and having to rely on information from experts who sometimes were impossible to get in contact with. The Information School did graciously fund some of our materials but for the most part we had to use parts that we could get free. There are some parts that we could have purchased, if we had the money, that would have made our task much easier and allowed us to cover more ground. These parts ranged from $500 to $3000, since we didn't have the money we had to work with less useful alternatives. We had a lot of burning questions in the beginning of the quarter that prevented us from really getting started on the hardest parts of our project. To answer these questions we began scouring the universe for experts. Weeks went by before any questions rolled in and some were never answered.

Silverfish: Are you graduating in June? If so, what are your plans after graduation?

Matt: Yes, I am graduating in June. I have been looking for a job like many of my peers and hopefully I will have found one before I graduate. If not, I'll still be looking. I fully intend to continue my work on R.A.T.S. and refine it into a marketable product that I could setup and lease to the Olympic Snowboard Half-Pipe Competition. I have been working diligently on the project and will be doing some data collection, hopefully in mid-June.


Geoff Velasco, Kabir Shahani, Matthew Nevitt, Brandon Tengan. (Members of R.A.T.S.)











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