Author: Carina Zamudio

An Innovative Field-trip

On Wednesday December 12th OPIM Innovate hosted some special guests from South Windsor High School. These guests were students enrolled in Ellen Festi’s class on Entrepreneurship. This course teaches students at the high school how different technologies disrupt businesses and Ms. Festi thought there would be no better way to introduce students to its emerging technologies than at the University of Connecticut’s very own OPIM Innovate.

The students began the day with an introduction to the initiative and some of its outstanding employees. Here MIS Director Jonathan Moore was able to teach the students the purpose of the program and show them around the Innovation Space. The students then rotated amongst three stations in order to gain hands on experience in Virtual Reality. In the first station students were able to use Google Cardboard, Innovate’s entry level Virtual Reality experience. Google Cardboard allows students to experience Virtual Reality directly from their phones, using an app and the Google Cardboard headset. The next rotation was the HTC Vive.  The HTC Vive is one of the department’s most advanced virtual reality opportunities complete with headset, backpack, and controllers, for students to achieve a completely immersive virtual reality experience. The third and final rotation allowed for students to use some of the educational games the department has to offer such as SnapCircuits and Bloxels.

After a quick lunch break the students were able to explore the Gladstein Research lab’s other offerings such as the Internet of Things, 3D printing, Microcontrollers and Analytics. The field-trip was a wonderful introduction to emerging technologies that they otherwise would not have had access to. Many of the students expressed great interest in the tools the OPIM Department has to offer and most have said they’re interested in attending the university.

OPIM Innovate Presents Augmented Reality

On Friday November 30th OPIM Innovate held their last workshop of the semester on Augmented Reality (AR) presented by adjunct professor Ryan O’Connor.  “Augmented Reality is a combination of a real and virtual scene, giving additional information to the real world,” began Professor O’Connor. Augmented Reality is often confused with Virtual Reality (VR), but this distinction of a combination of the real and virtual is what differentiates AR from VR, a program in which the user is completely immersed in a virtual scene. This combination of the real and virtual is very hard to achieve. Developers need to create precise models, analyze locations and optical properties of the viewer and the display, and all devices need to be accurately calibrated so that the AR can look as realistic as possible.

The advancement of cameras is one of the main reasons that AR has become so realistic. The cameras themselves are high quality which pushes the AR to be more accurate. The most popular, and potentially longest standing application of AR, relies on cameras to project a solid yellow line on to TV screens across the country. The NFL has been using AR since 1998 to help viewers at home distinguish the first down line on the field. Other popular uses of AR are Snapchat filters and Pokemon Go. Both of these tools project something animated into the real world in order for an interactive social experience. In addition, big companies like Ikea and Lego have seen the positive impacts AR has had on their businesses. Ikea released a tool that shows people how a piece of furniture would look in your home before you buy it, and in a similar way, Lego invested in a tool that projects a built life size model of the toy being sold so that people know exactly what they are buying.

Aside from all of these fun applications, AR can and has been used for some important tools in the fields of education, medicine, air traffic, and sustainability. In education, AR has been used for dissection, to avoid harming animals, and in geography producing 3D maps for students to analyze terrain. These 3D maps are also used by professionals to analyze sustainability, another field that benefits from AR. Sustainability has been greatly affected by the implications of AR. In 2015 Tesla released an electric car that had the first ever electroluminescent paint job, a carbon dioxide emissions camera, and a projector attached. The paint emits light to reflect an endangered fish, the CO2 camera shows how much pollution is being released into the air, and the projector projects images of animals on to buildings and objects in cities. Tesla is hoping that this car will remind and encourage people to be more environmentally conscious. This mobile projection is often done on a small scale in other vehicles to show things like the speedometer, fuel gauge, and temperature gauge. This technology is something that the Air Force, and even commercial aircrafts, have incorporated into their plans. This way pertinent information can be displayed directly on a window, so the pilot won’t have to take their eyes off of their paths. The implication of the safety feature has been one of the major focuses of the applications of AR. With AR a user can attempt something dangerous without suffering as dangerous repercussions. In the medical field doctors can project AR images as an overlay so that they can practice a procedure before acting on it.

Even with all of these applications and advancements, the technology is still not completely developed. Some tools, such as the measurement tool on the iPhone, are great ideas that still need some work in calibration and development. “The technology is getting there, but still not completely there,” said O’Connor as he demonstrated the app’s shortcomings. Although this app wasn’t as advanced as some of the other examples and demonstrations that O’Connor was able to show the class, he did highlight that Apple, and other products, offer a variety of free AR training tools for those who would be interested.

One attendant who held special interest in Augmented Reality is PJ Barnett, a graduate student working on his PhD with the School of Educational Psychology in the Cognition, Instruction, and Learning Technology (CILT) Program. Barnett’s initial interest in AR came when he was diagnosed dyslexic while completing his masters. “The potential for AR for students like me is huge, because then they’re not dependent on whether they can read or not read, it all becomes visual,” he said. Since then, Barnett has done some research on the technology to learn how he could implement it with his own students. “I think there’s a lot of potential to use AR to teach people and make them more comfortable around things like tools and maker space equipment. If you were watching a video of your tool because you just scanned it with your phone, it makes the process much more immersive.”

This workshop was the last workshop of the semester. Thank you to everyone who attended the workshops and we hope to see you next semester!

Student Spotlight – Hannah Bonitz

Hannah Bonitz, a senior from Cheshire, CT is wrapping up her final year of college with a busy schedule before she enters the workforce. As an MIS major since her freshman year, Bonitz has grown into one of the department’s outstanding students, receiving the Treibeck Family Electronic Commerce Initiative Fund Scholarship her junior year and participating in two case competitions, all while managing her honors student status. As a senior honors student Bonitz has to create a senior thesis. This thesis is a full year project that includes a research paper as well as developing a prototype or proof of concept. “My project is on using analytics and technology to globally combat modern slavery. I’m planning on developing a proof of concept by making a website that displays all of my research on human trafficking as a problem, and providing technology solutions around data management to combat it.” This project is a glowing testament to her character and intellect, but Bonitz was sure to take on more responsibilities for her last year at UConn.

Bonitz holds three on campus jobs at the School of Business, two in the Management Department and one in the OPIM Department. In the Management Department Bonitz acts as an Administrative Assistant and the Social Media Coordinator for the Group and Organization Management Journal. In these roles she has acted as the communications liaison on all of the social media platforms and performed important desk utilities such as managing the financial transaction records, collecting data on the Innovation Quest program, and using Microsoft Office. In the OPIM Department Bonitz works as a Lab aid in the OPIM Innovate Lab. Here she is working on developing the analytics technology track. In addition to working, Bonitz stays involved on campus through the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life as the Vice President of her sorority, Alpha Omicron Pi.

Even with all of these responsibilities, Bonitz has made sure that she dedicated time during the school year to apply for summer internships to further her professional career and explore possible career paths. For the past three summers Bonitz has interned at Travelers Insurance, each time working under a different manager in a different Line of Business. “I absolutely loved each of my experiences. They each provided a new perspective and expanded my knowledge base regarding IT in general, specific technologies, and different project management methodologies and approaches. I was given the autonomy to drive my own research efforts in conjunction with participating in a terrific intern experience program that offered broad learning opportunities and a culminating summer-long intern group project.” With all of this experience it is no surprise that Bonitz was given a full-time offer from Travelers, this time in the three year IT Leadership Development Program. “It definitely is my dream job! I am so excited to officially begin working full-time at the company I have interned with over the course of three summers. I look forward to expanding my depth of skill in different technologies, developing my skills as a leader, and understanding the business of property casualty insurance as a whole.”

With all of this success, Bonitz credits the OPIM Department for providing ample opportunities for knowledge and growth. “I am fascinated by the intersection of business and technology, as without either one, businesses and institutions simply cannot function. MIS provides the opportunity to explore this intersection.” With an MIS major Bonitz was able to explore the facets of IT that piqued her interest, learn general business codes of conduct, and access many academic and extra curricular resources. “One of the highlights of my college career would definitely be the independent study I had the opportunity to participate in titled Business Case Competitions. I learned how to develop effective presentations and carry myself confidently when presenting; I then leveraged these newfound skills at the CoMIS Case Competition at the University of Minnesota, and it was a surreal and worthwhile experience to see how far myself and my fellow teammates had come in our development!”

As Bonitz prepares for her final semester as an undergraduate here at UConn, she leaves with some parting words for her fellow MIS students. “Get involved as early as you can! The department provides incredible learning opportunities via workshops and written materials if you are just willing to explore when a topic piques your interest. I would also generally say that if you have a passion or even an interest in a technology topic, pursue it and stay curious. Curiosity and a passion to explore will not only keep you motivated and engaged but also serve you well in MIS – a field where trends are constantly changing and new technologies are consistently blossoming!”

Research Connections Expo 2018

As a top 25 public research and Research 1 university, the University of Connecticut makes both undergraduate and graduate research a priority. Throughout 2018 the university has invested millions of dollars into student enriching programs, they have contributed over $370 million dollars to the Connecticut economy, and they have received over 600 patents granted from UConn technologies. Perhaps what is most encouraging, is the support students receive from their peers, faculty, and the university across all disciplines. Although health behavior, energy, cybersecurity, and neuroscience are their most popular fields, students from psychology and communication have their own research facilities as well.

In its fourth year, the Research Connections event, held by the First Year Programs and Learning Communities and the Office of Undergraduate Research, was intended to showcase undergraduate research to faculty, staff, graduate students, peers and other key partners. This opportunity was campus-wide, allowing for all students to participate and showcase their work in research. The showcase held students like Pierre Fils and Riley Blumenfield who had ideas on topics like sustainability and health behavior. In his junior year, Fils worked at Climate Change Science Institute at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Knoxville, Tennessee studying climate-impacted buildings. “That opportunity completely flipped the switch for me when it came to research,” Fils says. “I was engaged in the idea of ‘let’s learn something new, let’s create some new knowledge and let’s figure out how it is that we can do these things that nobody knows about’.” Because of this experience, Fils is hoping to find a way to build homes in Haiti to be earthquake resistant, to prevent catastrophes like the earthquake in 2010. Riley Blumenfield, a Materials Science and Engineering student, Honors Program STEM scholar, and president of engineering sorority Phi Sigma Rho has been working in tissue and regenerative engineering. Last semester, she helped create polymers for mechanical testing, and this semester she’ll follow these polymers through in vitro conditions.

Although the event is meant to showcase the amazing things students are doing at UConn, the university also wants to develop freshmen and sophomores to get them thinking about research then, or in the future. Throughout the program there were student presentations and demos from IDEA Grant recipients and McNair Scholars, activities and presentations from the Learning Community Innovation Zone, and round table discussions with researchers willing to answer questions about their experiences. Thanks to all of the help from the Center for Career Development, First Year Programs and Learning Communities, and Office of Undergraduate Research for encouraging UConn to stay curious!


Open Virtual Reality Hours

This semester OPIM Innovate is hosting open hours for students who are interested in Virtual Reality. On Wednesdays from 9-12 students are welcomed in the Gladstein Lab in the School of Business room 391 to experience the three Virtual Reality options OPIM Innovate has to offer. For beginners, students can experience Google Cardboard, a set of glasses that can fully immerse you in a Virtual Reality experience. For students who may have some experience with VR, the HTC Vive is a more advanced Virtual Reality headset and platform. This headset can transport students into a whole new realm of 3D spaces using sensors and controllers to create hyper-realistic content. For students with advanced Virtual Reality experience, OPIM Innovate has Google Cardboard Camera. Google Cardboard Camera is an app with allows any device to capture and create 3D environments using a phone camera, and they are made visible through Google Cardboard. All three of these options are open to any student who is interested in attending. We hope to see you there!

MIS Case Competition Kickoff

The time has arrived! It is mid-September and the annual Management Information Systems (MIS) Case Competition is almost underway. The competition, sponsored by OPIM Innovate and coordinated by  Information Management Association (IMA), is based on business cases focused in MIS. The competition is comprised of teams of four students, two of which must be from the School of Business, who perform a twenty minute presentation focusing on creative thinking, public speaking skills, and forming business solutions.

If this opportunity sounds interesting, join the department at this year’s Case Competition Kickoff! The Case Competition Kickoff will give you the opportunity to speak with students on their experiences, pick professor’s brains on strategy, and learn about how the MIS Competition works. Awards will be given to the top three team. The kickoff will begin on Friday, September 21st at 1 pm in the Business Lounge, Rm 116.

In order to register to participate in the MIS Case Competition, click here.


Innovate Sponsors Splunk User Group Presentation

In conjunction with Connecticut’s Splunk User Group, OPIM Innovate’s own Tyler Lauretti was able to create a functioning Fitbit add on for Splunk. Working on this side project he was able to add data from Fitbits and import it into the Splunk platform to get more detailed information on a user’s health. Splunk is a big data platform that specializes in taking machine data from different types of computing systems. Once it retrieves that data it can process it, parse it out, and then people can run queries. Splunk has recently become more important due to the rise of big data. Because the Internet of Things is increasing in popularity, many devices are pulling data in a variety of different ways. Splunk is a tool that will help sort through the data and make sense of it to assist in educated business decision making. Because of Lauretti’s intensive background in IT through his experiences as an Advanced Technician at HuskyTech and at Travelers as both an IT intern and Technology Service Center employee, he was invited to speak in front of the Connecticut Splunk User Group on February 15th to elaborate on the Fitbit add on and its successes.

The idea behind a Fitbit add on began about a year ago. “Fitbit was uncharted territory. There had been one before us but it had a lot of bugs and was losing support, so we decided to create a better one,” Lauretti recounted. “Over break I started to write the scripts to pull the data from Fitbit in plain text format, then adjunct professor Ryan O’Connor helped get it into splunk, and from there we pair programmed what kind of queries we wanted to run and dashboards we wanted filled.” O’Connor’s role in the Fitbit project was to take all of the data Lauretti scripted and put it in to Splunk, and it was he who suggested Lauretti should be the Connecticut Splunk User Group’s guest speaker for this quarter. There was a lot of pressure for Lauretti to perform but his exposure to the Connecticut Splunk User Group in the fall of 2017 helped him become “very comfortable” and after immersing himself in the culture, he felt the audience was a “tight knit, good support group.”

During the presentation Lauretti elaborated on what the Fitbit add on actually does. “Basically the add on takes the Fitbit data and adds it to the splunk big data platform to analyze how many steps we’re taking, what our heart rates look like, how our sleep is, and other forms of heart data.” This add on helps to analyze health as a bigger picture, giving better visualizations on trends and the ability to see emerging patterns. Lauretti then explained why people choose Fitbit over competing products, how it can be used in Splunk, and privacy control concerns all while relating the discussion to the business and IT worlds.  Once their data was transmitted into Splunk they were able to watch the graphs change everyday, get alerts on the most active participants, and analyze who is exercising.

This presentation has helped Tyler Lauretti develop his skills on managing a server, how to write certain scripts, and how to work with APIs. “Giving this presentation was extremely helpful for my future. It’s really tough to be able to give complex talks on technology like this because there’s a lot of technical stuff that you have to break down.” Luckily, these skills will be transferrable to his new role in the leadership development program at Travelers.


Want to work at OPIM Innovate? Now you can!

The Operations and Information Management (OPIM) Department is looking for students interested in emerging technology to work as a lab specialist in the School of Business’s Gladstein Lab. These new lab monitors must maintain the lab schedule by processing requests and arranging meetings, assisting students with lab projects, and maintaining the appearance and functionality of lab equipment. An interest in teaching visitors about the technologies the department has to offer is beneficial to candidates as they will need to give presentations to students, faculty, staff, and the general public regarding the lab and the department’s other initiatives. Experience with programming, virtual reality, micro controllers, and data analytics is preferred but not required.

For more information and to apply visit the UConn Student employment website

MIS Executive Lecture – Ernest Huber

This Thursday March 1st, Ernest Huber, Vice President for Information Technology at Colt Manufacturing Company, is coming to the University of Connecticut to give an executive lecture to UConn students. This lecture will cover Huber’s choices in academia, including the pursuit of an MBA, and his careers working for companies such as SMS, KPMG, Bearing Point, Stanley, Slalom, and Colt. Huber is a leader in technology with a record of accomplishment achieved through strategy development, senior executive relationships, merger and acquisition integration and third party partnerships, with a proven capacity for motivating and directing large and small high performing teams. Throughout his years of experience in accounting, finance, consulting, project management, and IT, he has become an expert in P&L management, effective cost reduction/management through lean transformation, cloud computing, and complexity management. His industry experience in Manufacturing, Healthcare, Insurance, Financial Services, Retail, and Professional Services will provide helpful insight and guidance for students interested in pursuing business or IT in the future.

When: Thursday, March 1st, 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., students are advised to arrive by 6:15 and doors will close at 6:20

Where: Laurel Hall 102

Dress Code: Business Casual






Internship with Coca Cola

Coca Cola is looking for a student interested in Marketing, Event Planning, or Business Development to intern as an on-campus Brand Ambassador. Students will work with University Officials and Coca-Cola for about 5-10 hours a week to execute marketing programs throughout the academic school year. Applicants must be social, organized, detail oriented, and willing to take initiative  in new situations. Skills in marketing, public speaking, and social media would be preferable.

Dates of Employment: 7/1/2018 – 7/1/2019

Apply here