OPIM Innovate

Register Now: Splunk Day

On Friday, March 8th, OPIM Innovate will be hosting Splunk Day in collaboration with Splunk Inc., an industry leader in operations analytics software. An American public multinational corporation based in San Francisco, California, Splunk, Inc.’s mission is to make machine-generated big data accessible. They do this by producing software clients can use to identify data patterns and visualize findings, all via a web-style interface.

Interested in a career with Splunk, or just want to see what products Splunk has to offer? Then come celebrate Splunk Day with us in the Student Union, Room 304 from 12:00-5:00 PM. Students should come prepared with their resumes and dress in business casual attire. Staying for the entire event is encouraged, but is not required.

During the Splunk Day event, a number of presentations will be held covering topics such as:

  • Mobile App Development
  • Machine Learning
  • Blockchain
  • IT Security
  • Women in Tech
  • Recruitment

If you are interested in this event, please register here. We hope to see you all there!


A Reflection: Splunk Analytics Workshop

On Friday, February 22nd, OPIM Innovate hosted its Splunk Analytics Workshop. There, Professor Ryan O’Connor, UConn adjunct and Splunk Senior Advisory Engineer, explained to students the origin of Splunk and its uses. Other than Splunk’s three premium solutions: Splunk Information Technology Service Intelligence, Splunk Enterprise Security, and Splunk User Behavior Analytics, attendees also learned of the knowledgeable and supportive community behind the service. From dedicated end-users to passionate Splunk professionals, this community develops intuitive applications utilizing Splunk while also answering each other’s questions. Splunk, therefore, is a user-oriented platform which does everything in its power to help companies and individuals succeed with its data monitoring and visualization software.

During the workshop, O’Connor introduced students to time series data, which is how Splunk got its initial patent. In short, time series data is data that has been indexed on a time scale, either to organize the data or to derive conclusions from certain time intervals. For example, credit card companies use time series data in order to deduce whether or not purchases are being made by the authentic cardholder. In Splunk, machine data is categorized and searchable by date and uses time to sort out feasible and non-feasible data. If a purchase is made in one store in Connecticut, and then another store in Vermont 30 minutes later, chances are the card in question has been compromised.

Splunk is a very flexible service that allows users to integrate data from other software such as SQL Developer, a database client. “Databases are everywhere and important,” O’Connor explained to students, “but, some database clients don’t visualize data well. They just store it, keep its structure, and that’s it.” That is why O’Connor developed an application, called DB Connect, that can grab database information, make a copy of the data inside of Splunk, and then visualize it. “It can make pie charts, line charts, or whatever the case may be,” said O’Connor. “Splunk isn’t designed to replace any one of these [database clients], but instead to aggregate data from them.” Splunk can also capture real-time web data, such as the number of times a server is pinged by a computer or the number of times it is successfully infiltrated.

For those interested in Splunk, Splunk Fundamentals I and II are free for UConn students. The ability to use Splunk Analytics is a very marketable skill, especially for those interested in entering the world of information technology. Also, on March 8th, OPIM Innovate will also be hosting Splunk Day, where students can network with Splunk professionals. Don’t let these important networking opportunities pass you by! Get started with Splunk, today!





A Reflection: OPIM Innovate at Totally Teched Out Late Night Event

On Friday, February 22nd, OPIM Innovate co-hosted the Totally Teched Out Late Night Event in collaboration with UConn Late Night. In the Student Union, Room 104, a number of students from different academic backgrounds interacted with emerging technologies such as virtual reality headsets and leading software like Splunk Enterprise and HP Reveal. While many students walked in without prior knowledge of OPIM Innovate, they left with a piqued interest regarding what the initiative has to offer.

During the event, the Innovate Room was set up so that students could get a mini demo of all the technologies up for use. After signing in, students were first introduced to HP Reveal, an augmented reality application that superimposes digital images and video onto the real world. Then, they were introduced to Splunk Shake!, a Splunk Enterprise demo developed by Innovate’s Nathan Hom (’19 Management and Engineering for Manufacturing) which captures real-time data generated from shaking your phone. From there, students branched off into virtual reality demos or drone flying, either utilizing virtual reality headsets like Google Cardboard, the HTC Vive, and the Lenovo Mirage Solo, or flying drones of different shapes and sizes. The room was filled with rotor blade buzzing, laughter, and sounds of awe triggered by virtual reality immersion.

For some students, the Innovate Room at the Totally Teched Out Late Night Event was the first time they had ever encountered some emerging technologies or software. Xiaofeng Gong (’20 Mathematics and Economics), for example, had never heard of Splunk Enterprise before being introduced to the software by Nathan Hom. “After the Shake! demo, Nathan enthusiastically gave me a brief introduction to Splunk Enterprise since he saw that I was so interested. His enthusiasm and the software’s ability to monitor machine learning and capture real-time data really got me interested in data science. Now that I know that Splunk Fundamentals is free for UConn students, I will definitely check it out. Here was the right place for me, tonight!” Other students, such as Syed Hussain (’19 Communications), had a similar first-time experience with virtual reality, specifically with Google Cardboard. “Overall, I found the [Google Cardboard] experience super interesting coming from a gaming perspective,” Hussain said. “I always had an idea of how I would experience it, but I wasn’t expecting the images to be as crisp as they were.”

For the students running the Innovate Room, the hustle and bustle was worth every minute of getting to see interest emerge in another student’s face. Hannah Bonitz (’19 Management Information Systems), for example, felt accomplished knowing that she was helping bridge the gap between Innovate and the rest of the UConn student body. “I’m happy about the turnout,” Bonitz said, “and its very exciting to see that people are willing to come out on a Friday night to learn more about technology.”


Thank you to everyone who visited the Innovate Room on Friday! We hope to attend more events like the Totally Teched Out Late Night Event in the future!

Mark Your Calendars: Innovate at Totally Teched Out Late Night Event

This Friday, February 22nd, OPIM Innovate will be co-sponsoring the Totally Teched Out Late Night Event from 9:00 PM to 12:00 AM in the Student Union. During the event, Innovate lab specialists will be available to walk students through various emerging technologies, such as augmented reality, virtual reality, brainwave sensors, and drones. 3D printing samples will also be up for display, and Innovate staff members will be on the floor to answer any questions regarding the OPIM Innovate initiative and what it has to offer.

Interested? Come see us at Student Union Rm 104.

We hope to see you there!

A Reflection: OPIM Innovate Introduction to A.I. Workshop

On Friday, February 15th, OPIM Innovate held its Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) Workshop from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM in the Gladstein Lab, BUSN 309. Led by Stephen Fitzgerald, an adjunct professor in the Operations and Information Management (OPIM) Department, the workshop covered various aspects of artificial intelligence, including neural networks and evolutionary computing. As Professor Fitzgerald explained during the workshop, “A lot of intelligence as far as artificial intelligence goes is modeled after human intelligence–the way that humans make decisions, and the way that they think about things.” However, throughout the workshop, students learned that these models are more mathematical than contextual. In other words, machines do not have the capacity to understand complex ideas, but this does not always mean that they cannot perform tasks better.

After a brief overview of the different areas and categories of artificial intelligence, students were paired up for an introductory activity. During this activity, one student from each group was told to keep their head down while the other student was shown a picture on the projector screen. Once the picture was covered back up, the students who had seen the image were told to explain to their partners how to draw it without context (for example, you could not say “cat” or “falling”). Instead, they could only explain things mathematically in angles, degrees, and shapes, mimicking the understanding of a computer. Both partners had an opportunity to draw and give directions, and many students were scratching their heads in the process. The photo on the left is of the drawings I and junior finance major Christopher Narkon were able to conjure up. Given the two tails I drew on what is obviously a cat, thinking like a machine can make understanding the world very difficult.

As the workshop continued, one student brought up a good point that resonated with Professor Fitzgerald: due to a machine’s immense computing power and inability to comprehend distracting stimuli, it oftentimes has the upper hand regarding task accuracy. Machines can learn from mistakes, become as precise as possible with the steps they choose for task completion, and create preemptive and accurate decision maps. As such, projects like Deep Blue, Alpha Go, and AlphaStar have been able to beat the world’s best strategy-game players in games like chess, Go, and Starcraft.

After the workshop, students were left baffled with how immense the world of artificial intelligence has become. One student, junior MIS major James Mercaldo, stated, “I didn’t know there were a lot of hidden stages in machine learning. I always thought it was a fixed, input/output thing.” Yunqian Zuo (’22), a management and engineering for manufacturing major, added, “I didn’t know there were so many different branches [in artificial intelligence].”

For students who want to learn more about artificial intelligence, OPIM Innovate has tech kits that can be individually completed at your own pace.

Thank you to everyone who came to the Introduction to A.I. workshop. We hope you had a wonderful time!


Upcoming Workshops: OPIM Innovate

OPIM Innovate is proud to announce that it will be continuing its workshop series starting this Friday, February 15th. Topics that will be covered in this semester’s workshops include artificial intelligence (A.I.), wearable technology, drones, Splunk analytics, natural language processing, and 3D printing. All workshops will be held on Fridays at the Gladstein Lab, BUSN 391 from 1:00-3:00 PM and are open to all UConn students, staff, and faculty. For more details on these workshops, including where to sign up, please keep reading!

Friday, February 15th – Introduction to A.I. Workshop: This informative workshop will be exploring the concepts of machine learning and neural networks. Discussions will also be had concerning the real-world implications of A.I. progression for the future. Interested? Sign up here

Friday, February 22nd – Splunk Analytics Workshop: During this workshop, attendees will be briefed on the Splunk Enterprise software and how Splunk, Inc. is revolutionizing the analysis of machine data. Data security, Internet of Things, and machine learning concepts will also be discussed and further explored through Splunk. While a prior understanding of the fundamentals to the aforementioned concepts can be helpful, it is not required for participation in the workshop. Additional resources will be provided to those who want to learn more about Splunk after the workshop. Interested? Sign up here.

Friday, March 1st – Wearable Tech in Action Workshop: In this workshop, attendees will learn how microcontrollers are being used to help solve real-world business problems. Then, after being introduced to microcontrollers like FLORA and GEMMA, they will be invited to build their own wearable projects for hands-on experience. Different projects will be available to choose from. We will be providing additional resources for those who would like to learn more about microcontrollers after the workshop. Interested? Sign up here.

Friday, March 29th – Alexa Skill Building Workshop: Smart voice and natural language processing technologies are becoming the new norm due to smart speaker products like the Amazon Alexa line. In this workshop, attendees will be given an overview of these smart speakers and their application in different business sectors. Then, each participant will develop their own Alexa Skill for Alexa to learn. Interested? Sign up here

Friday, April 19th – Drones in Action Workshop:  This workshop, in collaboration with On Course Drones, a drone pilot training company, teaches students about drone technology and how drones fly. During the workshop, attendees will learn about how drones have impacted a number of industries, including the insurance, logistics, medicine, and entertainment industries. This will then lead to a demonstration of different types of drones and hands-on, drone-flying experience. Interested? Sign up here.

Friday, April 26th – 3D Modeling Workshop: The last workshop of the semester, the 3D Modeling workshop will give attendees an overview of 3D Modeling technologies and how they are used in different industries. Real world demonstrations of 3D Printing will also be shown, and additional resources will be provided for those who would like to learn more. Interested? Sign up here

We hope that one or more of our workshops interest you, and that you come visit us, soon!






A Reflection: MIS Meet and Greet

On Friday, February 8th, the OPIM Department hosted a Management Information Systems (MIS) Meet and Greet. The event was for students studying MIS or interested in the major, and was a perfect opportunity to learn more about the OPIM Department, OPIM Innovate, and the Information Management Association (IMA).

At the event, which was hosted in the Gladstein Research Lab, many emerging technologies were out for display and available to use. However, the biggest hit was the virtual reality (VR) demo, utilizing the HTC Vive’s virtual reality headset and wireless controllers. Strapped up to a portable backpack computer, students used the HTC Vive and Valve’s The Lab application to immerse themselves in several virtual reality environments. For Nicole Roehrig, a graduate exchange student from Germany studying mechanical engineering, the MIS Meet and Greet was the first place she had ever used a VR system. Reflecting on her experience after the demo, she said, “I heard a lot about [VR] in some of my lectures, but actually doing it was really cool.”

Other than testing out the tech and grabbing some goodies, the MIS Meet and Greet also became a place for casual conversation among MIS majors, the IMA, and other students. As Victoria Trautman (MIS ’20), president of the IMA, eloquently stated, “The MIS Meet and Greet definitely helped create a sense of community for students and IMA.”

This message also rang true for Amber Rehman (’21), who just recently switched her major from finance to MIS. She said she attended the Meet and Greet to speak with other MIS majors and to make sure she “made a good choice,” to which she enthusiastically affirmed she did. “[The MIS Meet and Greet] was overall a great time,” Rehman added, “and I enjoyed creating a greater bond among my peers of similar interests.”

In total, the MIS Meet and Greet had about 35 students in attendance, most of which were MIS majors. For those interested in a similar networking environment focused on MIS and information technology (IT), consider joining the IMA! It holds weekly meetings centered around career readiness, invites industry professionals to talk about the IT field and recruit students for their companies, and is a great place to meet and talk to other people interested in MIS.




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

Upward Hartford Sponsors Hackathon

This year the University of Connecticut was invited to participate in Hackathon, an event hosted by Upward Hartford. Upward Hartford is a new innovation / co-working space located in downtown Hartford open to entrepreneurs looking for a place to create new ideas and other innovative projects. The Hackathon was open to everyone in the community and local colleges were encouraged to send members to participate. This year OPIM Innovate sponsored a team of freshman engineering students who are also pursing the analytics minor.  These four exceptional students were eager to sign up and represent the university at the three day event.

Each day of the Hackathon was dedicated to solving challenges in the health industry utilizing digital technology. On the first day, participants frwere told they need to come up with a technological solution to a challenge in the health industry. Participants were given a variety of different topics to help them guide their project, but the UConn students decided to take an independent route and tackle an issue related to chronic illnesses.

From their full day of brainstorming, the UConn team decided to create Motivate Me, an app to promote healthy lifestyles. “The app is a health app that generates health information from variables and other health apps to make specialized packages for the users.” The goal is to get points by going to gyms or healthy places, and when a user achieves enough points, he or she will receive a package. The intention of this was to prevent chronic diseases, like diabetes, because some of them are preventable. “My inspiration was actually from Pocket Points, an app where users get points to redeem at food areas for leaving their phones off in class,” said Robert McClardy, a member of the UConn team.

The team used a program called Wireframe to create a preliminary version of the app. This program allowed them to design exactly how Motivate Me would work, with user friendly interactive components such as a health and location tracker. Once the team was able to “develop” the app, they rehearsed a presentation for day three. The third day was dedicated to a presentation to a panel of judges from different companies. Here the participants discussed their inspiration and purpose of the app, a market analysis, the target audience, their finances, and a timeline for how they could get the product up and running. Although the team did not place, they took the initiative to approach the judges to see how they could improve.

“This is something great to get involved in as an underclassmen and I would strongly encourage other students to go,” McClardy said when recounting his experiences in the Hackathon. The weekend is a great way to get exposure to the field, work on communication skills, problem solving, and make connections along the way. OPIM Innovate is looking to sponsor future teams to send to Hackthons or case competitions hosted at Upward Hartford in the future.