Nalas Engineering Is Hiring! Summer 2019 IT Internship

Nalas Engineering, a chemical engineering company, is currently searching for a team-oriented and hard working information technology (IT) intern for Summer 2019. The intern will be assisting Nalas with various IT needs, such as preparing and maintaining IT equipment (computers, printers, tablets, etc.), resolving networking issues, and providing one-on-one IT assistance and training to staff.

In order to qualify for this position, the applicant must be either a computer science, information technology, or management information systems major with a minimum GPA of 3.0 (junior or senior standing is preferred). In addition, experience with Windows operating systems, Windows Active Directory, Windows Group Policy, routers, firewalls, and networking protocols such as TCP/IP are required.

Interested in this position? Please contact for more information.



Girls For Tech Stops By The Innovate Lab

On Saturday, April 27th, Girls for Technology, an after-school program based in Hartford, CT that offers girls in minority and underprivileged communities access to emerging technologies, stopped by the Innovate Lab with students in their augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR) program. There, these young girls were able to utilize virtual reality headsets, drones, augmented reality tools, and wearable technologies to spur their interest in STEM fields. With the insights of Innovate lab specialists, students were even given advice and information on how VR/AR can be used in a commercial setting.

The Girls for Technology AR/VR program ended its most recent cycle with their trip to the Innovate Lab. After the three-hour program set up by Innovate director Jon Moore and participating student lab specialists, many student workers left with a feeling of fulfillment. “I had a very fun time walking students through how to use the technologies we provide at Innovate,” said Joanne Cheong (MIS ’20), “I also felt like a made a difference by giving these young girls career advice and encouraging them to explore how to use these technologies in positive and profitable ways.”  Alexander Zevin (Computer Science & Finance ’21) followed by saying, “I thought it was very important to show these young girls not to be intimidated by the learning curve associated with certain technologies.”

We thank Girls for Technology for visiting Innovate and hope we helped inspire your young students!


Innovate Lab Specialist Runs 3D Printing Workshop

On Friday, April 26th, OPIM Innovate hosted its 3D Printing Workshop. There, lab specialist Eli Udler walked students through the 3D printing process with Tinkercad, an open-source computer-aided design platform. After a brief walkthrough on how to use the online tool, students were then given free rein to pursue and build any of the step-by-step projects provided by the Tinkercad support team. For those students who were beginners or still intimidated by the software, Udler recommended the pennywhistle tutorial. As students worked independently, Udler remained attentive and answered any and all questions as they were asked.

After the workshop, many students left with a better understanding of 3D printing and computer-aided design. However, what made students feel the most fulfilled were the unlimited possibilities of 3D design and the Tinkercad platform. “With all of the tools and shapes we could use, I found it really enjoyable to just see what I could make,” said Neel Chakravarti (Environmental Engineering ’22). This was also the case for animal science major Rafael Samaniego (’20). “It was fun to turn each building block into something more complex,” he said.

We would like to thank everyone who attended the 3D Printing Workshop! Innovate would also like to thank Eli Udler for his participation as a workshop instructor in our workshop series!


Levo International Showcases Hydroponic Installation to Preschoolers

On Wednesday, April 28th, Levo International, in collaboration with OPIM Innovate, showcased one of its many hydroponic installations to preschoolers at the UConn Child Development Laboratory. Born from an Eagle Scout project completed by founder Christian Heiden, (Applied Economics major) Levo International creates hydroponic greenhouses and sells them in the United States to support the organization’s growth in Haiti. There, Levo hopes to assist the Haitian economy by creating manufacturing jobs for the natives and popularizing a more reliable mode of small-plant farming–hydroponics–where soil is not needed.

During the hydroponics showcase, Heiden explained hydroponics to the preschoolers, students-teachers, and Laboratory staff at the event. While the content had to be simplified for the younger members of the audience, the concepts were still well received with much enthusiasm from the children. In addition, as a gift to the Child Development Laboratory, Heiden donated the very greenhouse he showcased with hopes that the program would use it to grow vegetables and fruits for the children. The system can grow fruits like tomatoes, raspberries, and strawberries, perfect for snack time!

So, how does it work? Well, the hydroponic greenhouse is fueled by a nutrient reservoir filled mostly with nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. From there, the water is pumped up to the top of the greenhouse, where it then flows through all the pipes to the seated plants. After the water reaches each plant, it returns to the reservoir and is recycled on a solar-powered timer. All a user has to do is check the roots of the plants to prevent the system from clogging and replace the fertilizer every two-to-three weeks. “That was our goal: eliminate most of the hassle,” said Heiden in his explanation of the system. “Especially in the United States, people are always on a time crunch.”

Want to support Levo International? Please click here to be redirected to their shop where they sell their greenhouses, nutrient starter packs, and wearable merchandise.




A Reflection: OPIM Innovate Drones in Action Workshop

On Friday, April 19th, OPIM Innovate invited Jason Otrin, entrepreneur and founder of On Course Drones, to host its Drones in Action Workshop. The purpose of the workshop was to teach students about the multipurpose benefits of drone technology and the Remote Pilot Certification process. In addition to this, Otrin spoke about why he decided to start his On Course Drones initiative and the entrepreneurial challenges he faced to get there. Overall, the workshop was an insightful look into how a recreational pastime and personal interest can become a successful commercial endeavor.

After enlisting in the Connecticut Army National Guard in 1990 and serving in aviation maintenance, Otrin enrolled in the UConn Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program. In 1995, he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and was commissioned as an intelligence officer in the US Army. He was always very interested in aviation and, based on his service with helicopters in the National Guard and exposure to military aviation, earned his private pilot license while serving on active duty. After departing from the army in 2000, he worked for 17 years in information technology (IT) services until he realized, from helping his wife with her own start-up ventures, that he wanted to open his own business. That was when he found UConn’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans, which helped him apply his acquired entrepreneurial acumen to his first business plan.

“My intention was to start an IT training company,” said Otrin while reminiscing about his business prototyping days. “But, deep down, it wasn’t really what I wanted. One of my mentors helped me realize that. After working on a 45-page business plan for 4 months, she said to me, ‘You know what, I can tell that this isn’t what lights you up.'” She asked Otrin to think about his childhood interests, his hobbies, what he reads, and his pastimes to steer him in the right direction in terms of creating a business he would enjoy running. It didn’t take long for him to pinpoint that he wanted to do something with aviation. “I went to airshows, read aviation magazines, was obsessed with flying–so I came back a week later and told her that I needed to do something aviation related.” Based on how quickly he wrote his second business plan, he realized that following his passions would lead to his success.

Fast forward to today and Otrin now runs a drone training firm that helps clients prepare for the FAA 107 exam, a certification that allows you to fly a remote aircraft (a.k.a a drone) for commercial purposes below 400 feet, along with other requirements. In addition, he takes on private projects related to drones, such as birds-eye-view real estate displays showcasing neighborhood environments, and will be teaching a course at UConn in the fall, OPIM 4895-001, which will give UConn students the opportunity to prepare for the FAA 107 exam for credit. “As part of the course, I want to help students develop an idea of where they want to go with drones. This will be their project,” he explained, “applying drones to their career fields.”

Outside of recreational use, drones have many practical applications that can be beneficial to various industries. They allow human beings to get to places they may not otherwise be able to go, see things from an overhead perspective, and make informed decisions. For instance:

  • Insurance companies use drones before and after natural disasters to assess damage compensation and inform customers about the status of their homes.
  • Search and rescue teams use drones to assist injured persons by pinpointing their location and through the transportation of resources.
  • Military officers use drones to gain intel on the enemy and assist commanders to assess and decide on next steps.

Alongside these real-world examples, drone technology is becoming far more advanced, meaning that drones are becoming more automated, obstacle-aware and flight time is improving. DJI Mavic 2 Pro can be flown and monitored by its remote, or transmitter, up to 4.9 miles away and stay in the air for 31 minutes. Note that these specifications are under ideal conditions and FAA regulations require drones to stay within visual line of sight of the operator unless they possess a waiver. DJI also manufactures headsets that give drone users a first-person perspective of what the drone is capturing. These headsets typically monitor head movements to adjust camera direction using the drone’s gimbal, a stand that levels the drone’s built-in camera as it flies.

After the workshop, students left with a better understanding of drones and how they can utilize drone technology in their own pursuits. “I’ve had this idea for a while now to use drones as a way to help commuters find available parking spaces,” said computer science major Andi Duro (’21) when asked about his experience at the workshop. “This workshop gave me a better understanding of the regulations and rules of commercial air flight to help me better solidify that idea.” Natalie Chmielewska (’21), a computer science and engineering double major, also gained useful insight to help her with the UConn SPARK program. “Jason put in a lot of effort to show us every aspect of drone flying and how it can be used for our own pursuits and for those younger than us,” she said. UConn SPARK gives middle school and high school students access to week-long workshops centered around engineering and STEM to encourage their involvement in those areas.

OPIM Innovate would like to thank Jason Otrin for his service, both in the military and for the OPIM Department. We look forward to seeing what you do in the fall! A huge thank you to everyone who attended, as well!





Innovate is Hiring! Student Lab Specialist Positions Available

OPIM Innovate is currently seeking to fill three new student lab specialist positions for the fall of 2019. While two of these lab specialist positions will commence in the fall, one student worker will be needed over the summer.

As a student lab specialist, student workers must test and give presentations on the emerging technologies OPIM Innovate has to offer. In addition, lab specialists must assist students with various lab projects.  As such, great communication and customer service skills are a must. Experience with virtual/augmented reality, 3D printing/modeling, IoT/data analytics, drones/wearable tech, A.I./Blockchain is also preferred, but not required.

The student lab specialist position is a Class III job and offers great internship experience for students interested in learning about up-and-coming technologies. For more information on the student lab specialist position, please click here to be directed to the job listing on UConn JobX. For any additional questions contact MIS Program Director Jonathan Moore at

Pearson is Hiring! UConn Campus Ambassador

Pearson is currently searching for a diligent and enthusiastic individual to become its UConn campus ambassador. As a Pearson campus ambassador, students partner with their local Pearson sales team to promote Pearson’s MyLab and other educational products through presentations, technology registration events, and blog and social media posts.

Pearson campus ambassadors get to test new products; gain access to travel, internship, leadership, and future employment opportunities; and are provided with Pearson course material for free! This 5-10 hour a week position is a great resume builder and helps ambassadors with their public speaking and overall communication skills.

In order to apply to this position, please click here to be redirected to the official job posting.


A Reflection: CoMIS Case Competition 2019

On Wednesday, April 10th, the University of Connecticut’s Operations and Information Management (OPIM) Department sent a team of talented students to participate in the University of Minnesota’s (UMN’s) CoMIS case competition. In order to qualify for the trip, each student had to take the Business Case Competitions independent study (OPIM 4899-004) and show substantial improvement in each of their weekly presentations for the class. Although difficult for Jonathan Moore, the Business Case Competitions instructor and Management Information Systems (MIS) director, he decided to invite students Mariela Kridzelis (MIS & English ’19), Joseph Gauthier (MIS ’20), and Victoria Trautman (MIS ’20) to compete. Joining the three students were himself and MIS senior Hannah Bonitz as assistant coach, who had competed in the CoMIS case competition the year before.

The morning of April 10th, all students met Professor Moore to fly out to Minneapolis. During the kickoff dinner they were introduced to their rooms, other teams, and their competitors for the preliminary round. After a good night’s sleep, they were ready to visit the sponsor sites and prepare for the competition.

On day two, students and faculty were invited to partake in one of two tours: a tour of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minnesota or a tour of the U.S. Bank Stadium. Both were interesting snapshots of what Minneapolis had to offer and allowed competing schools to mingle with each other while experiencing something new. “The U.S. Bank Stadium definitely lived up to the hype,” said Gauthier. “Every aspect of the modern fan experience was covered and integrated with top class engineering and [information technology] solutions.” For the Federal Reserve Bank tour, both Moore and Kridzelis enjoyed learning about the Federal Reserve System and how artificial intelligence (A.I.) is helping workers count, transport, and sort money.

On CoMIS day three, all teams were confined to their respective hotel rooms to assemble their business solution in twenty-four hours. The prompt asked participating teams to try to help U.S. Bank increase IT security through the use of biometric technology. For UConn’s team, self-named “CoMMIT,” their ideas were the following: iris technology to get access to bank information, fingerprint activated payment cards, and A.I. chatbots that improve with machine learning to detect call-center fraud.

After the case was completed, which took approximately twenty hours of consecutive and/or simultaneous work from all team members, Trautman, Gauthier, and Kridzelis took advantage of the time they had left to rest and practice before their presentation. As they were selected to present at 9:00 AM, that meant that they had to deliver their case by 8:20 AM. The anxiety and tensions were high, signaled by a few pauses and self-doubt when mistakes were made during practice runs. When 8:00 AM hit, they realized they had to get ready to leave. “We just had to trust ourselves and each other,” said Kridzelis. “We knew our nerves were getting to us, but we reminded ourselves of each others’ potential and that, in the moment, we would be okay.”

When CoMMIT finally presented in front of their panel of judges, the professionalism that emanated from each team member masked any unease they were experiencing during the fifteen minutes they were given. Due to the creativity of CoMMIT’s solutions, they were able to get second place out of all teams in their randomized bracket for the preliminary round (which included three winning schools from the year before). This meant that they had a chance to go to finals through a question-and-answer lightning round. Unfortunately, they did not advance beyond this point, but ended up achieving seventh place overall “Our team stayed for a short time, but managed a good showing against steep competition,” said Moore. “Although there were times where I felt I would nearly fall down, I always had a teammate ready to pick me back up,” followed Trautman.

Although CoMMIT did not make it to finals, they grew in those few days in Minnesota, became closer with each other, and gained feedback that would help them in the future. “In any competition, there are bound to be winners,” said Bonitz in retrospection,” but being a winner doesn’t always mean getting the gold. We celebrated the experience and what we learned from it–that was our real reward.”

We would like to thank the University of Minnesota for inviting us back to the CoMIS case competition, and for Noel Vierra for being such a wonderful team host. We hope to continue bringing our best talent to the playing field in the years to come.

Student Spotlight: Andrew Taylor

Raised in Wallingford, Connecticut, sophomore management information systems (MIS) major Andrew Taylor learned of his love for technology when he was introduced to the Sega Genesis by his father. In experiencing classic video games titles like the original Sonic the Hedgehog game, he developed an appreciation for the underlying complexities behind a fully functioning piece of software. This followed him to his high school years, where he partook in coding classes to improve upon his growing computer literacy. He learned coding languages such as Java and Visual Basic to satisfy his technical curiosity, but found that the fundamentals only spurred his desire to learn more.

Andrew sits across from me in the OPIM Innovate Lab, patiently waiting for me to begin the interview. He has lent me his laptop computer to take notes, a kind gesture on his part after I informed him that the battery on my own machine had died. If there is one thing I can say about Andrew’s character from the brief time that I have known him, it is that he is a selfless and thoughtful individual. Acts of kindness are never few and far in between with him, and they are easily reciprocated by his friends. Only a few minutes after commencing Andrew’s interview, for example, a mutual friend of ours tells me to make sure I write him “the article he deserves.” Andrew laughs it off as a joke, reaffirming my belief that he is a genuinely humble person. To him, praise is not the reward–making an impact is.

When deciding his college major, Andrew already knew that he wanted to declare MIS. “I knew that MIS would give me a lot of analytical thinking skills related to general business strategy. I also knew that it would give me a technical perspective on business problems.” In discussing this further, Andrew professes to me that he did not want to become an individual too engrossed in functional expertise to be flexible. “In MIS, you learn to communicate beyond your technical foundation. Especially for those who don’t have strong soft skills, that’s important. While I identify as someone who is more attracted to the technical side of MIS, the major has challenged me to become better at public speaking and presenting to a general audience, something that’s really broadened my perspective.”

Outside of the MIS major, Andrew is the Alumni Relations Manager for the Information Management Association (IMA). As the Alumni Relations Manager, he is responsible for keeping in close contact with alumni, encouraging alumni to get involved with the MIS curriculum, and organizing alumni-student events. “Right now, I am planning an alumni panel on April 16th where five UConn alums will come in and talk about their experiences as students. It will mainly focus on how they got internships and how they made the MIS major work for them, but it’s open to all UConn students.”

In terms of his personal interests, Andrew informs me that he and his roommate want to become entrepreneurs. They are currently working on attaining an LLC license, and are working on a prototype compression program to make files smaller than they already are. “It’s based on a certain algorithm that we constructed; we’re implementing it now to see if it actually works. It’s for all types of large files, and our goal is to have the algorithm compress more than what’s currently offered.” When I ask him if he has a name for his LLC, a sudden jolt of energy bursts from him. “We don’t!” He says. “The hardest part is always coming up with the name! We’ve been trying to for the past year-and-a-half, and we still can’t come up with one.”

Andrew and his roommate hope to one day turn their LLC into a video game company that specializes in cloud gaming. Until then, they hope to penetrate the general technology industry with their algorithm and provide a more effective solution for compressing big data. They continuously share their technical knowledge with each other in preparation for the future, and let their mutual ambition inspire each other. “We were friends in high school and used to make video games together. Now, we just want to make those experiences something more than good memories.”








A Reflection: UConn Maker Fair

On Saturday, April 6th from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM, UConn hosted its first official Maker Fair at Werth Residence Towers. There, all “makers”–artists, innovators, inventors, businesses, and more–were able to showcase their work while interacting with onlookers. In addition to the little expo, the second annual Modified Pinewood Derby also took place. There, competitors put their pinewood cars to the test by having them race against each other, each miniature vehicle engineered to perform and carrying its own unique design.

Due to the Maker Fair and the Modified Pinewood Derby partnering together for a single event, the Maker Fair had a huge turnout. Both those primarily interested in the makers and Derby fans were able to walk from maker station to maker station while Derby contestants waited to race their cars. Even a few contestants themselves came up to appreciate the various creations presented by the makers before the big race. Stations varied from a NASA project to a tailor’s clothing collection. There was variety abound.

Alongside the various makers, OPIM Innovate also attended the Maker Fair with its own table. There, Innovate lab specialist Robert McClardy demonstrated the capabilities of various technologies such as virtual reality headsets, biosensors, augmented reality equipment, and drones. “Overall, it was a neat event,” McClardy said.

We thank everyone who attended the Maker Fair and stopped by our booth!