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: Brandon Tengan

Silverfish: What is your background?

Brandon: I was born and raised my entire life on the island of Oahu, and came to the UW and the state of Washington in 2001. Both parents attended the UW, and I am the youngest of 3 sons, and am 3/4 Japanese, 1/4 Okinawan.

Silverfish: Why did you choose the Informatics program?

Brandon: At the end of my freshman year, I applied early to both the business school and the Informatics program and although I completely favored business, I got turned down. I was pretty stoked though that the informatics program let me in, so I thought I'd just give it a try. I didn't exactly realize what I was getting into and really struggled because I wasn't as technical as everyone, was totally lost, and almost seemed I was on another planet amongst my peers, but somehow I guess I survived and am glad I stuck with it.

Silverfish: Do you have any hobbies?

Brandon: I played a lot of sports growing up, and in high school I focused a lot on soccer with the hope of playing in college. I chose UW to focus on school instead, but still play some intramurals. My main passion now though is dedicated to surfing, skateboarding, and up here in Washington, snowboarding. I enjoy golfing too and just recently got underwater housing for my digital camera so I can't wait to test that out in the water.

Silverfish: What is your capstone project about?

Brandon: Athletes today in so many sports constantly push the progression and limits of their sport so much that their efforts don't always get the recognition and justice they deserve. We focused on extreme sports, mainly snowboarding and skateboarding half-pipe, where athletes are scored on their overall performance. Although the judging process is very subjective (like style, overall impression), athletes are also scored on how high they go or height, the only actual criteria that can be measured quantitatively. We currently feel the judging process now is flawed and has room for a lot of mistakes, which consequently lowers the integrity and justice of the sport. We decided to integrate technology into the sport, through two implementation methods: a ubiquitous skateboard, and a break-beam system. The skateboard would track data such as acceleration using an iPAQ and accelerometers, and the break-beam would utilize physics equations and track time (how long the rider was in the air), ultimately determining how high the rider was traveling. After altering sensor hardware and programming software, we were able to produce an interface that could be displayed to judges in a competition. This proof of concept became what we called our Real-time Action Tracking System for extreme sports or RATS for short, ultimately conveying the goal of the Capstone project: going out into the real world and solving an information problem.  

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

Brandon: Very interesting, lots of struggle, yet pretty rewarding in the end. The informatics curriculum didn't teach us hardware stuff, it taught us about networking, which enabled us to somehow get our parts to work with of course a lot of help from people we knew. Overall, the process was pretty rough because of time constraints, we only had 10 weeks.

What is your favorite part about the capstone project?

Brandon: Seeing a pretty solid WORKING and functional product in the end, and the fact that this project dealt with our hobbies (skateboarding) so it probably made us more passionate. Never did I think we could have pulled something like this so we were all proud.

Silverfish: What was the most difficult part of the project?

Brandon: We had a group of four, and group dynamics was huge, mainly because of a conflict of interest, which ended up hurting us hard in the end with our grade.

Silverfish: What are your plans after the capstone project?

Brandon: I am currently a junior, so I have one more year of college left to fulfill general education requirements for graduation. I will be headed home this summer back to Hawaii where I will be working for the Department of Defense at Pearl Harbor, for a Naval Intelligence company called JICPAC doing I think webpages and Internet related work. And oh yea, surfing my brains out too.


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











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