Digital Platform Helps Interdisciplinary Teams Form for Senior Projects and Theses

Students present senior design projects in 2019. University of Arkansas students have developed a digital platform that allows students to form interdisciplinary teams from anywhere, allowing for even more cross-campus collaboration on senior projects.
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Students present senior design projects in 2019. University of Arkansas students have developed a digital platform that allows students to form interdisciplinary teams from anywhere, allowing for even more cross-campus collaboration on senior projects.

A collaboration between students and faculty in engineering, business and entrepreneurship has given rise to a digital platform that allows students from all three areas to form interdisciplinary teams for senior projects, entrepreneurial ventures and honors theses.

The College of Engineering, the Walton College of Business and the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation have partnered to host an online mixer aimed at connecting students from across disciplines as they approach their senior-year capstone projects and innovation-based honors theses.

Beginning April 2, students will be able to sign up on the platform, called CoFinder, to pitch their project idea to a network of other students from different areas, with the goal of forming a design project team. Those teams will engage in a year-long capstone or thesis project for the 2020-21school year.

These connections would typically be made at an in-person mixer on campus, but because in-person activities around the world have been curtailed in response to the COVID-19 Coronavirus, this platform will allow students to foster interdisciplinary connections safely from anywhere.

Robert Saunders, assistant department head of electrical engineering, is one of the organizers of the digital effort. He said senior projects are a critical part of a student's academic journey, but forming an effective interdisciplinary team can pose a challenge.

"Many students dream of having a team to solve a problem, push an idea, product or service to realization during their senior year," he said." But, they don't know how to get in touch with other students who have the business/practicum/social/technical knowledge to realize these dreams. Now, more than ever, it is important that we provide the means and atmosphere that allows our students to come together to achieve their goals and dream."

The collaboration platform was developed by two students in the College of Engineering's Department of Computer Science and Computer Engineering — Canon Reeves, founder of More Technologies, and Kyle Sadler, student director of the University of Arkansas Startup Village.

Sarah Goforth, executive director of the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, said the platform was an example of partners across the university collaborating to facilitate innovation on campus.

"Creating environments that make it easy for students to work together across disciplines - whether virtually or in person - is critical for their development and success as innovators and change agents," she said. "This takes creativity and partnership in a university setting, and I'm grateful to be collaborating with the College of Engineering on this effort."

The online portal will be open from April 2-30. It can be accessed at entrepreneurship.uark.edu/cofinder.

This collaboration project was made possible by a generous gift from Jeff and Kathy Sanders.

Read more about how the U of A is Determined to Help

Contacts

Nick DeMoss, director of communications
College of Engineering
479-575-5697, ndemoss@uark.edu

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