Senior Capstone Projects
About the Computer Science Capstone Project
Working with a team, computer science majors design and implement a substantial and integrative capstone project. As they propose and compare multiple solutions to computational challenges, they consider the context and impact of each solution on the possible creators, maintainers and users of their solution. Many of the capstone projects benefit real-world clients by supporting local non-profit organizations, creating tools for campus-related services or conducting interdisciplinary research. The clients interact with the capstone teams to provide feedback throughout the process. The semester-long team project utilizes the skills and concepts learned throughout the computer science curriculum and culminates in a public presentation during the Whitman Undergraduate Conference.
Project Year 2023
Project Name: A Web Repository for the NIST-46 Chemistry Database
Capstone Team: Paul Luo, Diego Quispe Vilcahuaman, Diego, Flora Taagen, Tina Wang
Project Description: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Database 46: Critically Selected Stability Constants of Metal Complexes is an international database used by chemistry researchers for referencing information on interactions involving metal complexes. The NIST-46 user interface is badly outdated, unmaintained, and incompatible with current operating systems, making the application either inconvenient or wholly inaccessible to chemists. Previous Whitman College Computer Science capstone teams partially extracted NIST-46 data into a modern database system and wrote minimal scripts to prove its correctness. To build on that work and create a usable product, we enhanced the database to include all of the original relevant information and created a new web API to build a robust, accurate, and scalable solution that ensures secure access to the database by the frontend client. In collaboration with a second capstone team, the refactored application has been readied for deployment as a website accessible to chemists internationally.
Project Name: Exploring the Mojave Desert from the Classroom
Capstone Team: Ahmed Alsayed, Ben Grabau, Nick Hager, Jasper Kim
Project Description: Virtual reality (VR) offers a unique opportunity to expand on geoscience pedagogy. The challenges associated with conducting topographical research and study in harsh-climate geological terrains are numerous, including physical limitations and prohibitive costs. Moreover, the current climate crisis has made some terrains inaccessible for extended periods of time. The use of VR technology can provide an inclusive, modern approach to geology education. We developed a VR experience using Lidar (light detection and ranging) point cloud data captured by a Whitman College-owned drone. The program offers an immersive learning experience, incorporating both a structured lesson plan and a free-style exploration option. The program allows students to explore the terrain, conduct measurements, do basic calculations, and learn about significant structures within the Mojave Desert. Results from a user-testing study with geology students at Whitman College demonstrate the viability and utility of VR
Project Year 2022
Project Name: Whitman College Technology Services' Shift Scheduling Application Revamp
Capstone Team: Vreni Todd, Ethan Berman, Jake Torrey
Project Description: Whitman College Technology Services employs students in a variety of positions on campus with flexible hours. The shift management process has revamped their system to streamline the process of scheduling student shifts. The updates to the system allows administrators to create weekly shifts within the application to avoid the tedious work of having to manually enter in students' availability. Students benefit from the new system as it now incorporates Google Calendar capabilities and automatically synchronizes to students' personal calendars. Utilizing MongoDB, React, NodeJS, and FullCalendar, this tool allows student workers to use their Google Calendars to indicate their availability. With improved CSS styling, the shift management tool makes it easy for students to view their shifts for the week and to pick up or drop any unclaimed shifts.
Project Year 2021
Project Name: Reengineering the Whitman College Technology Services' Shift Scheduling Application
Capstone Team: Ronan Byrne, Connor Young and Yussef Elbagory
Faculty Sponsor: William Bares
Description: Whitman College Technology Services employs students across a variety of jobs to assist the college with various technological tasks. The current shift management website, used to organize, schedule and rearrange shifts for WCTS student employees, has become outdated due to the rapid data migration from in-house computing to cloud-based storage and the use of legacy coding languages in this application. Utilizing the MongoDB, React, and NodeJS full-stack framework, we constructed an application that allows administrators to easily schedule shifts while maintaining the useful functionality of its predecessor. Using these modern frameworks, this web application allows for increased scalability and maintainability in the future. Additionally, this application adds to the existing features while aiming to increase usability and save time by centralizing many of the administrative tasks such as schedule creation.
Project Name: Can Academic Student-Advisor Matchmaking Be Automated?
Capstone Team: Eric Lim, Ryan Kierulf, Nick Mcclellan and Tony Zhao
Faculty Sponsor: John Stratton
Description: What features make a good match between an incoming student and their advisor? How do we determine to prioritize an individual good match versus equity within all automated matches? We as a capstone team explored these issues to see if they could be algorithmically solvable through the implementation of a weight-based matching algorithm. Through the help of our stakeholder analysis we were able to better understand the tensions between the values of each of our stakeholders and who gets to ultimately decide which of those values are prioritized over the others. With this information, we proposed a system that surveys academic advisors and students in order to perform automated weight-based matches. With the implementation of our weight-based algorithm and our student/advisor surveys, we produced a web application that compares the results from our surveys and constructs matches based on the preferences given.
Project Name: Designing a Web Interface for a Valuable Scientific Database
Capstone Team: Haley Yandt, Maxwell Brown, Nidhi Jaltare and Zoe Hill
Faculty Sponsor: John Stratton
Description: Chemists around the world use the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Standard Reference Database 46, which contains thousands of critically-selected stability constants for various metal complexes. Unfortunately, the user interface was unmaintained for many years and now only runs as a program on the outdated Windows XP operating system, which makes it very difficult to access and navigate. We set out to develop a web application with a better user interface that will afford scientists easier access to this resource. Our project focuses on implementing features that will make the data readable and easy to navigate in a way that fits with a chemist's workflow and their approach to finding and using information. In this presentation, we will detail how we implemented these design choices to create a web application that has the potential to impact the scientific community both at Whitman and beyond.
Project Name: Building a User Interface for Simulation Software
Capstone Team: Ian Stewart, Dylan Wu, Jeremy Davis and Edwin Retana
Faculty Sponsor: John Stratton
Description: The Differential Equation Network Simulation Engine (DENSE) allows systems biologists to simulate models of complex chemical reactions. The problem is that in DENSE, these models need to be written in C++, a programming language that may be difficult to use without a computer science background. On top of that, there is no convenient way to save and keep track of different models and simulation versions. To solve these problems, we built a desktop application with a user interface allowing users to load their models from a common systems biology model format, convert and compile these models, and then configure, run, and view the results of their various simulations. By making the DENSE software more accessible, we invite more biologists and chemists to add DENSE to their research arsenal.
Project Name: Front Seat: Bringing Back Theatre, Virtually
Capstone Team: Michelle Zhang, Laska Fitzhugh, Shubhra Tewari, Cameron Fraser, Dexter Aichele and Riley Chappell
Faculty Sponsor: William Bares
Description: Theater’s magic is captured through the immediacy and intimacy of articulation and passion, and through the connection between actors and audience in a shared space. COVID-19 has compromised this outlet for Whitman’s Department of Theater and Dance. To compensate, a Computer Science capstone team created a web application called Front Seat, by which actors, stage managers, and directors are able to rehearse and communicate about stage design without being in the same physical space. Through motion-tracking technology, Front Seat overlays diagrams of digital stage layouts in which each actor’s movements are captured. The result is stage movement otherwise lost because of social distancing and quarantining. This application may support efforts by other theater departments faced with similar restrictions.
Project Year 2019
Project Name: Automated Registration for Great Explorations
Capstone Team: Melissa Kohl, Kirk Lange and Jack Stewart
Faculty Sponsor: Janet Davis
Description: Great Explorations is a biennial workshop event hosted at Whitman College for local middle-school girls interested in STEM fields. In previous years, registration was carried out by means of paper and the mail. Included in this effort is the task of matching hundreds of girls with their preferred workshops. Our Computer Science capstone project had two main goals tied to Great Explorations: build an informative website with a registration form, and create an algorithm to automate the matching process for the workshops. In our presentation, we discuss the tools we used to accomplish these goals along with the process of working with a nonprofit organization.
Project Year 2018
Project Name: Adversarial Motion Planning
Capstone Team: Camille Anderson, Richie Farman and Riley Worthington
Faculty Sponsor: Andy Exley
Description: The group created a simulation for multiple agents to navigate a two-dimensional space. The agents were adversarial in that one agent type tried to escape while the other agent type tried to catch the first group. Readme.mdCapstone-Master.zip