Projects: Technology on the Trail Undergraduate Capstone Spring 2018

The Spring 2018 school term provided the opportunity for senior undergraduate students in computer science to take part in client-based projects related to technology on the trail. Each project was asked to address some trail-related problem through a tech implementation. Below is a summary of the projects that they undertook.

NOTE: some of the students continued their work on the projects, and others were continued by grad students and clients toward being incorporated in grants, papers, theses, and dissertations. This post has been and will continue to be updated with links to new papers.

  • GreenSites: Navigating Towards Sustainable Camping. Undergrads Michael D’Avella, Forrest Doss, and Matthew Scanland undertook a project sponsored by Jeff Marion and his grad students in Virginia Tech’s Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation. They were tasked with creating a mobile hiking application that would allow users to be able to navigate towards sustainable campsites and avoid areas that are detrimental to the environment. Their app allowed conservationists to map existing and potential campsites to help determine sites with the potential to be the most environmentally friendly. (See image below.)
  • TrailBuddy. Rui Jin and Shumeng Zhang crafted an app to identify tagging approaches for photos taken on the trail during hikes and other outdoor activities—at times when people do not wish to manage their photos but do wish to capture context. Grad student Derek Haqq is continuing this research as part of his Ph.D.
  • The Gardenator: Fostering Learning by Improving Attitudes towards Science. Undergrads Anne Hoang, Havisha Panda, and Jennifer Shenk crafted a scavenger hunt app in support of the Pollinator Garden at the Science Museum of Western Virginia (SMWV). They sought to improve user-user and user-exhibit interactivity by improving attitudes toward science and learning. The project was sponsored by ICAT’s Outreach and Engagement Coordinator Phyllis Newbill, along with staff at the SMWV. Grad student Lindah Kotut is seeking to publish continued work on this project in support of her Ph.D. dissertation. (See image below.)
  • Safe Drinking Water with Smart Technology. Undergrads Arianna Krinos and Priyanka Kogta, together with grad student Jingoo Han, developed a web site and Java app to increase understanding of new smart and connected technology for drinking water systems. The project breaks down barriers of understanding to increase public confidence in the quality of drinking water.
  • Twitter Tweet Visualization on Trails. Undergrads Mark Episcopo, Vedant Tyagi, Patricio Moreno, and Shivani Rajasekaran crafted a visualization showing tweet locations using Apache Spark and Scala. They looked for interesting themes in over 1.5 million tweets by trail users around the world. (See image below of tweets filtered by season.)
  • Poison Ivy Tracking App for ITCHY. Undergrads James Wilson, Gunnar Arnesen, Douglas Botello, and Jason Merewitz worked with Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science professor John Jelesko on an app for tracking locations of poison ivy. This project is part of Dr. Jelesko’s ITCHY project (nvestigating Toxicodendron and Habitats for Years) that studies the times and locations that poison ivy can be found. The work supports citizen scientists in their efforts to help this scientific endeavor. Computer science grad student Tim Stelter is continuing this work.
  • Tracking Birds in the New River Valley. Undergrads Zijian Xu and Hongyi Zhen created Birding Buddy, a digital education mobile app to get young people excited about bird watching. It includes a field e-notebook to help users record bird observation date, time, location, photos, audio, and more. It includes a wiki with the 28 most common birds in our region. Birding Buddy supports the Boy Scout Bird Study Merit Badge requirements 5 and 6. Grad student Tim Stelter is continuing this work (along with other projects above) as part of his citizen science research.
GreenSites screenshots showing potential sites and surrounding terrain. Scientist can easily create markers indicating potential sites, then study the resulting map to identify promising sites at a later time.
Participants using the Gardenator application in-situ and during a showcase, together with the available options for interaction. The user selects a category, and using the clue given takes a picture. The application then applies image recognition to check for correctness, then revealing a successful page or a failed page accordingly
This tweet visualization shows hiking by seasons, with winter hiking largely (but not exclusively!) happening in the warmer regions of North America.

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