Learner Community Projects
Do you want to “get IT dun”?
We are looking for industry projects for learners to undertake as part of their third and final year of study for a Bachelor of Information Technology.
The ideal project would:
- Benefit a wide audience.
The audience may be your staff, your customers, or members of the public who benefit from the services you provide. We’re open to working with community organisations and commercial businesses.
- Be exciting and interesting.
These learners are ready for a technical challenge, to work out how to solve a problem.
- Have no time limit.
Learners finish their capstone projects at the end of their final year – this is usually November but some finish in June. If necessary successive teams can continue to work on the same project to get it to a level you’re happy with.
The learners are developing not just their technical skills but also client relationship and project management skills. As well as agreeing the project brief with us and with the learners involved, you will need to provide the right specifications and integration, to ensure compatibility with your systems and enable the project to go live.
We are also interested in exploring options for possible internships and other industry involvement.
Please contact Adon Moskal to discuss working with our Dunedin-based IT learners.
Please contact Farhad Mehdipour to discuss working with our Auckland-based IT learners.
Examples of past learner projects
Job advertisements disclose what technical and professional skills employers are looking for.
It's not possible to teach learners everything in a Bachelor of Information Technology, but what programming languages, what frameworks and databases, which software tools, will be most useful for learners as they transition into work upon graduation? How do lecturers choose, and when should they change what they teach? Choices can be influenced by lecturers' personal preferences and opinions about what is best.
Professor David Rozado wondered whether there might be a way to find out what skills the job market is looking for in applicants for IT roles. Employers advertise for the particular skills they need their employees to have, so in theory it should be possible to scrape information from job advertisements on websites like TradeMe and Seek. This sort of data would help ensure that what is taught will help learners to gain employment. Learners Francisco Fernando Rosas Chavez and Yoseob Shim undertook this for their final year capstone project.
This pilot project focussed on job advertisements for roles in the IT and health sectors in New Zealand. Scraping the data from the website advertisements was only the first step. Under David's supervision and as a research assistant, Francisco went on to develop tools to analyse the data, to discover what technical and professional skills are required for the advertised jobs. The software looks for language models to parse the information and recognise the names of databases, deployment tools, professional skills etc. Machine learning improves analysis over time. A dashboard displays the search results, for example the top 10 companies advertising, the salary distribution, whether the roles are full time, part time or contracted, top locations for jobs, the names of software tools applicants should be familiar with, and of course what technical and professional skills are sought. This data should be useful for learners as well as lecturers. The prototype app they built provides proof of concept for David Rozado's idea.
- Contact David Rozado regarding this project
One of our Auckland-based IT learners has designed a device for plant care.
Information Technology learner Earnest Surya has designed an irrigation system for house plants as part of his programme. The device detects when a plant is dry and applies the right amount of water, Earnest says.
It has three sensors which measure soil moisture, sunlight, and temperature. When parameters reach a certain level, determined by a code, a pump is switched on and begins supplying water to the plant. An LED light signals that the pump is operating and it continues to do so until the plant has received enough water.
Earnest says this particular prototype has been designed for those who are worried about their houseplants dying while they’re away on holiday, but the same concept could be applied to bigger areas such as agricultural plantations.
Earnest completed the project for the Embedded Systems course in our Bachelor of Information Technology. Earnest is happy with how the project has turned out and has given the system to a lecturer who is a fan of houseplants.
The past is being reimagined in virtual reality for modern day "visitors".
In 1925-26 Dunedin hosted the New Zealand & South Seas International Exhibition. A series of pavilions were constructed including a domed festival hall. The site included an amusement park with a railway loop, restaurant, and tearooms, along with displays from New Zealand provinces and some overseas countries. A new tree-lined Anzac Avenue linked the exhibition grounds with the city centre. More than 3,000,000 visitors paid for admission to the exhibition, more than twice the population of New Zealand at the time.
As the exhibition's 100th anniversary approaches, Alison Breese, Digital Archivist at Dunedin City Council is collaborating with our Architectural Studies and Information Technology learners to recreate some of the experiences of the exhibition in Virtual Reality.
Bachelor of Information Technology learner Sam Sherlaw has begun the project, developing three activities in virtual reality. Users with VR goggles can ride the rollercoaster, throw balls at a target, or try and hook rings over pegs. This project is expected to continue with successive learners adding new features and refining the environment to create an immersive experience.
A new robot seeks to engage people with simple questions.
How do you survey a selection of people in a large space? It can be very labour intensive and time consuming to have a person approach strangers to ask a simple question, but being approached by a robot might be intriguing and efficient. A robot can be reprogrammed to ask a different question on another occasion.
A team of Information Technology learners, Jayden Caldwell, Joel Glasgow and Heather McDonald have built a robot, named Dot, to do just that. This project incorporated hardware and software development with human-computer interaction. Dot's movement can be controlled remotely or automated to stop and turn when she reaches an obstacle.
Dot is built on a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner engine and the learners 3D-printed additional parts they needed to construct the chassis. They also coded the controls and the inter-'face'. Dot can be programmed to move around the room and interact with people.
What if you could control gravity in your online world?
There are many 2-dimensional digital games available which involve running and jumping around a digital maze to gain points while cheating death. But in all these games gravity is a constant.
Information Technology learner Ethan Rowe had the idea of a game which explores the mechanic of gravity. In his game, players are able to control the strength of gravity affecting their character, as they clamber to the top of a treacherous level full of spikes and pits for example, or boosting their ability to jump. A multiplayer format also means two players on networked computers share the same gravity field - which they can both control, so they can choose to help or hinder each other.
The project incorporates concept ideation, level design, and character animation as well as the complex technical aspects of syncing the gravity between multiple players.
Three Information Technology learners have been mapping crime types, times and locations.
A group of Otago Polytechnic Auckland International Campus (OPAIC) learners are using their IT skills to predict crime risk in New Zealand and they hope the police will one day be able to make use of their research. Wisanu Boonrat, April Love Naviza (Love) and Vimitaben Mukeshchandra Vaidya (Vimita) recently completed their Graduate Diploma in Information Technology Mini Project about crime prediction.
They used historical crime data, algorithms, and machine learning to develop a model. Users can enter a location, date, and time into that model and see a map which shows risk level based on that data. It can even show the risk level by crime type. The team of learners has created a user interface which those without a data science background can use, as well as a Microsoft BI dashboard which more specialised people can operate and use to generate reports.
Now that they’ve finished their Graduate Diploma, they hope another group of learners might pick this project up and continue to improve the tool. They hope the technology will eventually be presented to police, who could use it to predict crime risk and allocate resources accordingly. The team says they’ve learned a lot from the project. Covid-19 restricted the way they could work together physically, so they had to get creative, meeting online at least once a week and organising their tasks using a project management tool called Jira. They each took turns acting in the roles of Project Manager, Developer and ‘Scrum Master’, so all gained a good understanding of various aspects of the project.
This project is a part of Head of IT Dr Farhad Mehdipour’s ongoing research, funded by OPAIC. Farhad says the learners did exemplary work and achieved 100 percent for both the technical and transferable skills aspects of the project. It is the first project to achieve such a high grade in Farhad's time at OPAIC.
A mobile app can help capture and share fitness activities.
A Year 12 student at Otago Girls High School, Claire Taylor, conceived the idea for a new mobile app that would not only monitor her own exercise but enable her to share with her friends too. Two of our Information Technology learners, Hua Wang and Carthur Pongpatimet, worked with Claire to turn this dream into reality.
The Fits Go! mobile app they developed shows a map of Dunedin and enables users to choose a route or set up their own route by putting pins on the map. A Google map API calculates the distance over the route. The user identifies whether they are walking, biking or running, and enters when they are starting and when they finish. The app will then calculate the calories burned.
A prototype has been made available on the Google Android store for testing. The intention is to continue development by adding features that will enable app users to share with each other when and where they are exercising, with the option of exercising together. Peer encouragement and accountability can help them reach their fitness goals.
Our Communication Design and Information Technology learners are hunting in a pack.
Game design is a growing industry in New Zealand and internationally. Many game developers release tools to encourage people to make content to add to their games, creating a community of contributors and extending the scope and life of the game.
Communication Design learner Adam Herd made his first dive into 3D character modelling and creating a game asset pack. Adam created two versions of the wolf model, one with outline effect and one without, and ten texture variants for each version. The aim was to create a wolf that would resemble its real-life counterpart whilst integrating a distinct stylistic look.
Adam is just one of many Communication Design and Information Technology learners working collaboratively on the game SKIN. The goal is that the learners will produce a game from start to finish and publish it collectively as Forth Street Studios. SKIN has many features common to any multiplayer first person open world survival game, but what sets it apart is that players can get under the skin of any of the animals in the game - taking on all the advantages and vulnerabilities of that animal.
A collaboration between Information Technology and Occupational Therapy has helped align a technological innovation with implementation to benefit people.
People who have suffered a stroke sometimes find their vision has suffered. Although the eyes themselves are not damaged, how they process what they see is affected. Our learners have been exploring whether eye-tracking technology can be used as a tool to help with assessment and recovery of vision. Several of our Information Technology students developed a series of games that require players to use their eyes. The games get progressively more demanding on the eyes.
Occupational Therapy student Eliza Booth then assessed the games' suitability to be an effective clinical tool for people recovering from vision problems after stroke. Eliza worked with two clients on their vision rehabilitation, teaching them to use the technology and getting their feedback on it. The two clients reported that the games improved their awareness of their vision and their progress in recovery, which gave them hope. They appreciated the opportunity to be active in their recovery with eye exercises that weren't tedious!
There was also a need to consider how the technology could be incorporated into occupational therapy practice. Eliza and Information Technology learner Trent Nicholson presented a seminar to about 15 occupational therapists in three departments at Dunedin Public Hospital, to show them how the technology might be used in vision recovery and get their feedback. The technology could be used in the hospital in combination with other therapies, and was seen as a constructive use of patients' time. The feedback from clients and occupational therapists will inform improvement of the games.
Two learners have been developing their IT skills through a real-world project.
Two of our Graduate Diploma in Information Technology learners have recently built a business intelligence dashboard for a retail company as part of their studies. Ravikumar Kalaria and Bhavik Bipinkumar Patel worked on their mini project with a client from digital marketing company Mochi Digital. Ravi says the pair created a dashboard of retails sales data, turning large volumes of data into more accessible formats in a confidential way.
They used Microsoft Power BI - a collection of software services that turn data into understandable and visually appealing insights. Ravi said the pair didn’t have any experience with the software when they began the project.
“But we were willing to learn this new and quite popular technology.”
They taught themselves using online learning platforms including LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, and edX. They sought all the knowledge they needed to meet client requirements and contribute their own ideas for new features and functions. The project took more than five months and the pair overcame many challenges to develop six reports for the company. Ravi says:
“During this process, we faced some problems such as duplicate data, the relationship between tables, and many more. But we continuously learned about how to solve the issues and fix them step by step.”
Ravi says they had excellent support from Auckland International Campus’ Head of IT, Dr Farhad Mehdipour, throughout the project and came away with a very positive reference letter from the client.
The Internet of Things is helping the Orokonui Ecosanctuary care for its kiwi.
Orokonui Ecosanctuary is an ecological island wildlife reserve surrounded by a predator proof fence, just 20 km north of the centre of the city of Dunedin. Within the sanctuary is an area for kiwi, New Zealand’s iconic native bird. Visitors open a gate to enter this area, and are asked to close the gate behind them. They don’t always do so, which makes it more difficult for the staff to find their kiwi.
Our Information Technology learners have been working with the Ecosanctuary on a multi-year project. The learners have visited the site on several occasions and talked with Orokonui Ecosanctuary staff to gain a full understanding of what was needed. They have designed, constructed, and tested prototypes at Otago Polytechnic and then on site.
The Internet of Things (IoT) device uses a magnetic sensor to detect when the gate is open, then transmits that information over long range low frequency wifi to notify Ecosanctuary staff. The casing for the device is 3D printed. The project has expanded so that the learners are now working on devices for all the different gates in the predator-proof perimeter fence as well. Each device will run for a year on 3 AA batteries, so is very sustainable operationally for this not-for-profit organisation.
The 2018 Audacious Business Plan competition was won by a team of four Otago Polytechnic learners.
APT Marketing identified a niche in the showcase / expo market for an app that streamlines communication between stallholders and visitors. Rob Burroughs, Mark Gowans, Olufemi Olusina and Grayson Orr are all third year Bachelor of Information Technology learners who have developed this project in their spare time.
Showcase visitors can download the app which will provide them a list of the stallholders at the event. Visitors can then scan a QR code at a stall in order to receive information about that stallholder's business and to enter a prize draw that the stallholder may be running. The visitor's contact details will then be passed on to the stallholder.
Under the business plan developed by the learners, stallholders can pay a premium for a higher level of service, eg for a higher ranking in the list of stallholders, or to include a photograph. Event organisers who pay to include their event on the app will be able to use it to award a spot prize to a visitor, to find out which stalls and how many stalls visitors stopped at, and eventually also for e-ticketing. The APT Marketing business plan and pitch won them the Audacious Business Plan competition last month.
The team of learners has already built a prototype for Android which is available for free download from the Play store. The app was trialled at the IT Student Showcase on Friday 15 June 2018 for displays of learner projects from the first half of 2018. Now the team is looking forward to developing their business ideas and building an iOS version during the second half of the year.
Blueskin Bay Library manager Louise Booth approached Otago Polytechnic asking if it would be possible to hold a free community helpdesk at the library.
A team of our Information Technology Certificate learners were able to help. Another team of learners were tasked with making a short film and a news article about the event. To prepare for the helpdesk, the learners met with Louise to find out what she had in mind, what resources were available, and what issues she anticipated members of the community might raise. On the day arranged, 1 June 2018, the team presented themselves professionally and were able to solve the majority of problems that were presented to them. They also followed up on issues that they couldn’t solve on the day.
The turnout from the community was fantastic and feedback from the clients on the day was of a very high standard. Louise was not only happy with how the team performed but also optimistic about collaborating with Otago Polytechnic again in the future, so a second community helpdesk was held on 2 November 2018.
David Rozado would like to help people access computers even if they can't use a mouse or keyboard.
Modern technologically driven societies rely on information technology for almost everything: social interaction, work, entertainment, education, and banking for example. This means that people who are unable to use a mouse or keyboard are severely limited in their ability to engage with society. This affects people with a range of conditions including motor neuron disease, a spinal cord injury, some congenital conditions, severed limbs, or stroke.
Because severe motor disability affects only a small minority of people, the high costs of developing solutions for them cannot be distributed amongst a large customer-base. Existing accessibility software solutions are therefore expensive, and many are also not user-friendly. David Rozado's vision is to provide low-cost user-friendly accessibility software for this small but high-needs group.
Under David's guidance, teams of third year Bachelor of Information Technology learners have been working on four separate solutions. One of these is Windows Gaze Control to give motor impaired computer users complete control of a Microsoft Windows desktop computer by using only their eye movements. The control system uses a Tobii eyeX eye tracker, costing only about $100, to track the position of the computer user's head and eyes to determine where the user is looking on the computer screen. Icons on a toolbar are activated by gazing at them.
Development on these projects is continuing, and the accessibility software is open source to allow other software developers to make improvements also.
- For more information about the projects and to access the software, please click here.