My name is Michelle Enyeart. I am (as of summer 2002) a computer engineering major at Santa Clara University with a minor in Mathematics. I have been fortunate to receive a mentorship through the Computer Research Association (CRA). The purpose of the distributed mentor project is to encoursage women engineers to consider careers in computing research. While I am still not sure about a career in research, I am very grateful for the opportunity. The purpose of this page is to keep a journal of my progress thoughout the summer.
My mentor is Tara Madhyastha at UC Santa Cruz. The project I will be working on is called Collage. The Collage project is web based software that is intended for use as an educational tool. The goals of the project are to develop software that will be easy to use, that is flexible to enough to be tailored to individual students needs, and that utilizes common applications such as Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Excel. The particular aspect of the project that I am working on involves reporting the grades to the students.
You can see the working aspects of the Collage Project here. Hopefully my gradebook will be there soon! And you can see my project summary here.
If you have any questions about this site or its content, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Week 1 -
The first week of the project was pretty uneventful. I spent most of my time this week getting acquainted with the people and things that I will be working with this summer. The people in Tara's group are all very friendly and always willing to offer advice. I was surprised by the size of the UC Santa Cruz campus, I wonder how anyone can make it to their classes on time. Tara and I met on Tuesday and set some goals for the week. The first goal was to get all my computer accounts set up. Unfortunately, the special privileges requested took much longer than expected and the next few goals depended on the first. Additionally, I spent much of my time examining some of the examples of work already done by other members of the group and learning about the technologies that would be needed for the project (including apache servers, java servlets and xml).
Week 2 -
The second week was more productive. I continued to research and read. This time I completed a tutorial on mySQL database manipulation and a few tutorials on java servlets. When I met with Tara to set new goals, to learn about the possibilities for using Microsoft excel with Java and to learn more about servlets. Additionally, we had a meeting with the database professor as UCSC to discuss the possibilities and requirements for the project. Although the meeting wasn't as successful as we initially hoped, some of the other students (who have taken his course) volunteered to try to work things out as best they could and report back to the rest of the group. And finally, during the week, I was able to access the server with the proper permissions and can move on to more challenging work.
Week 3 -
The third week I spent working on my own experimenting with the different technologies I am going to use like html forms and very simple java servlets.Even these small and simple accomplishments make me very excited because I felt that I actually know what I am doing and where I am going with the project. I feel that I have overcome some major blocks this week and that I can really start progressing with the gradebook project.
Week 4 -
I spent the fourth week researching how I could use excel files in a Java servlet program. I found a library that appears very helpful. From this I wrote a sample program to extract the data from some cells of the program. It worked and was very simple so I believe that it will be fairly simple to include this aspect with the rest of the components of the project to get something that actually works as Tara and I have planned. The rest of the group continues to develop the database schema. I thought that I might help them, but they seem to know what they are doing.
Week 5 -
I have to come view the project as similar to a puzzle. There are several independent pieces that need to be worked out, and then they need to be fit together. Some of the components that I have identified include uploading and storing a file, extracting data from the file, putting the data in the MySQL database, displaying the data in html to the user, and changing the file by updates from the brower. One piece, extracting the data from the file, was accomplished in week 4. In week 5, I focused on uploading a file and I have made some real progress. Next I will focus on the database.
Week 6 -
I feel that I am making some progress. I have much of the underlying things worked out and will soon have to start working on the servlet stuff and user interface more. Time sure is flying. It is hard to believe that there are just a few weeks left. I really hope that I can finish the majority of this project on time, but right now I am still working on a very basic skeleton of the project. I am really learning a lot in the progress though and I am excited to see things come together.
Week 7 -
This week I spent mostly on the interface and servlet stuff. I made a major accomplishment by figuring out some parameter things with the servlets that were particularly tricky and causing some problems for me. Tara suggested I look at the xml stuff again and she provided me with a quick example. Also, during our meeting, Tara persuaded me to think about taking the GRE to prepare for the possibility of grad school, so I have been looking into it. Unfortunately, this week was not as productive as it might have been because I celebrated my 21st birthday! More hard work will continue next week.
Week 8 -
This week was spent mostly on debugging some problems that I discovered. I feel that I have a large chunk of the project working correctly (however, there is not yet much error checking). Unfortunately I ran into a new problem that is quite difficult. It will take some work, but once that is done, the major milestones of the project will be accomplished and then there is just a lot of touching up to do! Tara did an interesting this week. She sent us all copies of a recent thesis. We read through them and then used the software in developement by another one of her students to answer questions and critique the thesis. This way we not only got the oportunity to discuss a thesis and the developement of one, but we also got to test out a fellow student's work. I think that reviewing thesis' of varying quality and length is an excellent idea, especiialy while preparing one of your own. I also learned a great deal about graduate school in the process!
Week 9 -
Still working on a few things. Most of the basics seem to be working. There are a few advanced features that can be worked on, and maybe some more formatting. Also, it might be interesting to explore an XML version of this project. Both Tara and I have been really excited to see things working. I am particularly excited to be learning so much and seeing it all come together.
Week 10 -
I finally got one or two of the advanced features that we wanted working, such as the ability for a professor to include a text box that the student can enter comments or feedback or questions, and the ability to put links in the the tables displayed to the students. I am really excited now. I have really enjoyed working with Tara and will certainly keep in contact. I have offered to help with any papers coming out of the project. Also there are a few more things that could be done to really improve my project, such as a user's manual, a demo, and the xml stuff that has been so daunting. While there are still a few such loose ends to tie up, I am really very satisfied with my work this summer. One final meeting with Tara next week should really wrap everything up. Thanks for the opportunity!