Student Projects

Capstone Projects

While I can't share the actual work students do as their capstone projects, since it's real work done for real companies and have real confidentiality agreements attached to them, I can tell you a little bit about some of the teams, the clients, and what we did:

A Major Motion Picture Studio
 While the studio's identity is confidential, the issue of piracy that all studios have to deal with is well-known. Some time ago my colleague Mike Smith began to do some serious research around this issue, and this project is a continuation of the work that he started. I can't tell you much, but what I can tell you is that yes, release dates specific to various channels do have an impact on piracy. And that the team was Ishant Aurora, Savio Lawrence, Bhargav Kodali, and Luxuan Zhang. 

American Eagle
As it is for most clothing retailers, American Eagle's website is a key sales channel for the wildly popular and expanding brand.  We suggested a number of ways to use customer data to make for a more enjoyable, personalized, and fruitful (for both the customer and the brand) shopping experience.  And then developed a series of algorithms to turn possibility into practice.  The student team responsible: Jessica Dodge, Eyad Kasouya, Bhararth Prasad, Ramzi Qaabar, Ana Quintana, Tom Zimmerman.

Body Media
Body Media is a pioneer in developing wearable body monitoring systems that help people live healthier lives. Needing a business intelligence system that would generate a dashboard of key performance indicators, Body Media called on us.  Using open-source technologies, we created an easy-to-configure data warehousing application that transformed Body Media’s operational data into both a highly visual dashboard and a system that generates on-demand ad-hoc reports.
As a bonus, we also left them with complete system documentation. The student team responsible: Shantnu Chandel, Sumeet Ganju, Chitra Sharma, Amrish Singh, Saurabh Shrivastava.

Bosch is one of the largest and most-respected automotive, industrial and consumer technology companies in the world. Our task was to look into the future, project what some enabling future technologies might be, calculate market potentials, and then make recommendations on how best to take advantage of Bosch's strengths and the market's possibilities. The project was challenging, very future-oriented, and (as you can see) a lot of fun. The student team responsible: Shuting Guan, Han Linghui, Naveen Parthasarathy, Anthony Quinn, Madhusudan Subbu, Liping Zheng.

Packaged goods marketers -- smart ones, anyway -- are always investigating, exploring, and evaluating new marketing possibilities: sometimes even ones on the extreme edge of the future. This was a fun project for that reason, and gave GSK not only real quantitative and experiential data, but a web application as well.  Sorry, I can't tell you any more than that.  The student team responsible: Ferry Ibrahim, Guillermo Jose, Rhataporn Kessom, Amit Mayabhate, Gautam Vasudev.

This was a really interesting crowdsourcing project that used Yahoo!'s gigantic user base to extreme advantage. Yahoo even flew the team out west for meetings with key people and a mid-point review. The team redesigned some key Yahoo! community spaces for information exchange, recommended how to identify and build an active community of experts and built a rewards program to help retain the most knowledgeable contributors and experts. Upon implementation, the projected result will not only be cost savings, but higher consumer adoption, positive brand value, and high quality, insightful feedback that will continually help to improve Yahoo!’s product and service offerings. This was a joint project with CMU's Tepper School of Business, and the student team responsible included Eiti Batra, Jim Chiang, Angela Lee, Weiyi Ma, Bryan Oh, Shantan Rao, Abhijit Telang.
Independent Projects

Here are some current and former students' personal projects that I've had a minor hand in:

Friend and former student Jacob Wilcock saw a hole in the academic marketplace: no "excellent" tool existed for academic activity reporting to gauge faculty effectiveness in teaching and research. His SaaS application, ReConn, is about to change all that. Starting next year, the startup will be deploying custom Knowledge Management software to more than 1,000 faculty at Carnegie Mellon.

Friend and former student Harry Ulrich was talking to his wife, who teaches autistic kids, about how silly it was that so much of her record-keeping work was done manually when he was, after all, a software engineer, and !poof! (ok, not so much of a "poof" as a grueling year of intense work), record-keeping and analytics software (and attendant national database) for the treatment of autistic kids was born.

It's not a big deal now, but back in the day, friend and former student Bowei Gai saw a problem with the iPhone's camera: it wasn't very good (actually, everyone saw that problem).  So he and his team set out to improve it, with things such as flash, picture-in-picture, quick delete, and a host of other great things.  Josh Carr in The Unofficial Apple Weblog said that Snapture "makes the iphone into a great point-and-shoot camera." Snapture's gone now, but if you want a little more on what happened, Bowei explains it here.

The Personal Branding Initiative.  
Friend and former student Chuck Reynolds is now a consultant at Deloitte, and he and I have been discussing the concept of "personal branding" for a while (my own interest goes way back to Tom Peters' excellent take on the subject in a 1999 Fast Company article, and to conversations that my associate in a former life, Rodger Morrow, and I used to have when I was a partner in TheBrandingGroup, and doing all the initial branding work for FreeMarkets (now Ariba).

Chuck was lamenting the fact that the (few) so-called personal branding experts talk about the importance of personal branding, but no one gives you the step-by-step.

A few years later another student, Sachit Gupta, made the same observations and decided to do an independent study with me to aggregate the current thinking on the why's and how's of personal branding. All of which resulted in an eBook, "Building Me Inc." that gives a little more of the step-by-step. It's a work-in-progress. And it's a start. And available for download in the "Attachments," below.

Chris Labash,
Jun 13, 2010, 4:01 PM