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The College Project


The College Project Logo by Eric Kaschyk

College Project was/is a database driven, user generated content, project repository. The goal in creating the site was to provide a means that college students could use in order to get involved with others working on similar ideas as themselves. Initially Eric, Bryan, and I were all frustrated with the groups and projects offered by our college because they were a good means for socially interacting with people, but didn't offer much beyond that. Dan joined us over the summer prior to the release with similar goals and provided very insightful help. We wanted to be involved in work that would enhance our skills, demonstrate our abilities, and hopefully provide others a place to get involved in truly worthwhile, not superficial activities.

Development

The first college project concept design by Eric Kaschyk
Development started around October of 2005. We all set a goal to finish the project by August 28 2006, the day of an event called "Main Stage" at Central Michigan University. Main Stage is an event that takes place the first weekend prior to the start of class. All of the student organizations participate in this event, and freshman are encouraged to attend as well.

We had weekly meetings while we were all physically at school. During the summer we would meet about every Sunday using Skype.

The first college project project design design by Charles Palen
A week prior to August 28, I moved back up to CMU in to a new apartment. I remember that our power had not been turned on yet so I ran an extension cord out into the hall so I could still use my laptop. Eric, Bryan and I plugged away big time in order to finalize the integration the new UI and test everything we could. I remember Eric and I staying up on IM until around 6am the morning of August 28 in order to make sure we had everything set.

Release Day

Dan handing out college project flyers at main stage
That morning I met with Dan, who had brought a gas generator that we planned to use to power two laptops to showcase the project at Main Stage. We also had made shirts with Eric's awesome logo on them. Dan also printed a ton of pieces of paper with just the logo and web address. The instructions for the event specifically said "no generators", but we ignored it as we were showcasing something quite abnormal. We used an extension cord and put our generator way out away from the booth. We also played booth roulette that morning because we had been placed on an inside table that our extension chord would not reach. I think Dan was able to persuade someone why it would get them more traffic if they were on an inside booth. We had no table cloth and ended up using an old green tarp. It was pretty hilarious. The generator was on uneven ground and wouldn't competently power the two laptops. At least we were able to hand out the flyer's.

Post Release

Dan, Charles, Bryan, and Eric at a development meeting
The biggest lesson that I learned from Main Stage was that of marketing. It was ridiculous to think that the hoards of students would have time to stop and actually use the website at our booth. So much attention was also put into development that we spent only a small time on a marketing strategy which really hurt us at our debut.

After the release we didn't meet as frequently and development slowed. The voting feature was added as well as work on fixing a few small bugs and internal features. There is also a recruitment module that is still half done but not implemented.

We were briefly in talks with the CMU library on a project that was aimed at archiving student work. We were set to receive an RFP if the grant for the project received funding. Unfortunately the grant was declined.

I stopped work on College Project my senior year of college because the field of robotics was calling my name. During this time Eric got married and finished school at home. Bryan was out in the real world and had a wonderful child. Dan was still at school working on his career in broadcasting.

Future

Preview of preliminary new layout for college project
We still meet about once every six months at a coffee shop, but major development has stopped. Eric and I are currently doing a little bit of cosmetic updating to the project, but on a very slow pace. In order to register on the site, it's still a requirement to have a "cmich.edu" email address. However, we have all considered the possibility of open sourcing the project as it is a wonderful php framework for any web 2.0 site.

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