For many members of the WIMTACH research team developing a new project can often pose a fun challenge and a learning breakthrough. That’s why members of the WIMTACH development team jumped at the chance to contribute to an innovative project with Naborino Inc. This collaboration focused on the development of an analytics-based web application to support a custom marketplace for group buying which connects local communities with neighbors to enhance their purchasing power. The team was excited about the unique selling point of the website and its ability to close the bridge between vendors and buyers. The success of this collaboration was due in part to the great contributions of a team of student developers consisting of Student Researchers Chaitanya Ambarukhana, Asylhan Ukenov, Ruchit Hasmukhbhai Patel, Devansh Shah, Keval Sanjaybhai Patel, and due to the leadership of Professor Viji Angamuthu. The project was also successful as a result of the diligent contributions of the WIMTACH management team.
Professor Viji was especially interested in this project when she initially learned about the collaboration. She was excited to transfer the knowledge from this project to her students. “The experience that we gain from these projects, that reflects on the class room,” she said. “We can actually take the knowledge that we have acquired from one project back to application for other projects.” She was enthusiastic about the practical impacts of the collaboration and sighted growth in her own learning and in particular, growth in her leadership skills. This project provided an opportunity for her to try different styles of leadership to entrust the Student Researchers in the project with the confidence to stretch their problem-solving skills when working independently. She noted that the team’s passion and interest in the project encouraged them to be restless in producing great work. “You need to put your full effort in a project so that it comes out very well,” she said. “I see students in this group has contributed their best.”
Asylhan Ukenov initially joined WIMTACH as a Back-end developer but through his contributions with the Naborino project, he was able to exercise his Front-end development skills, effectively edging closer towards becoming a skilled Full-stack developer. Still, through his work on this applied research project, he increased his Back-end development skills and learned about how to read the work of other developers and about how to use Pi-test, program in Python and Django among other skills. “It’s exactly what I was looking for,” he said. “I enjoy what I am doing.” Devansh Shah, a student developer for the project highlighted, “we have learned so much from this project that we haven’t even realized yet,” he said.
This project permitted the students to gain greater insights into the development cycle to learn key learning objectives such as documentation, requirements gathering, sprint planning, and implementing User Interface (UI) overhauls. The teamwork created a comradery amongst the Student Researchers as they troubleshooted difficult challenges together and worked to meet development deadlines. This enabled the students to support each other in independent study while building friendships along the way. “So far, it’s the greatest experience of my life,” said Devansh.
The team developed unique features for the Naborino web application to separate its features from other applications on the market. This included a design concept with a social media focus to encourage community connections and engagement in the group buying arena, an idea, that is quite unique for other web applications in this industry. As a result, the task to develop this web application was completely new to the Student Researchers. However, the strong working culture in the team was especially helpful when they faced learning curves and unforeseen issues throughout the development process. This enabled the students to learn about how to overcome challenges and develop strategies in case of unpredictable difficulties. “There was a good gel between these groups,” said Professor Viji. This connection was particularly helpful for Keval Patel as he became accustomed to the unique frameworks and tools required in this project. “When we started the project we were not familiar with the Django framework or Amazon Web Services (AWS) services also so we had to do the site research,” he said. “Now we have a good knowledge and good skills to develop any project from scratch.”
Ruchit Patel was also able to gain invaluable skills at every stage of the development cycle. Responsible for some of the Front-end development of the website, he explained that before joining this project, he had a superficial understanding of the Angular Framework, but now he is very confident in developing using the framework to complete tasks such as filtering items, working with routes, and in authenticating user requests. “In every part of the development I have been learning something new,” he said. “We knew how to work with Angular but we didn’t know in advance.” Devansh Shah highlighted that having students engaged in every process increased their understanding into the critical methods of software development such as the ability to map out requirements on screen to determine how everything should look. It’s forced the team to develop with a full picture and with the user experience in mind. “We are thinking more in terms of what is good for user experience and what will look good,” he said.
Professor Viji created a supportive environment and instilled confidence in them to thrive while learning significant techniques such as how to deploy code, work with cloud technologies. “Working in a team gave me a better opportunity at making decisions which were efficient and easy to develop,” said Chaitanya Ambarukhana. “Working in a team really emphasized my technical skills.” Keval Patel also noted that the collaborative environment helped him to push himself. “Overall, the teamwork is very good and we are working anytime there is a requirement,” he said. For Asylhan the smooth communication between the team members and their accessibility during challenging moments was a significant feature of his experience. “I like that everything is documented and if I urgently need something I can just write a message and then the guys are going to help,” he said. In fact, the team worked so well with each other, Devansh noted that they often lost track of time. As such when it came time to transfer some of the team’s work to the client’s repository, he was surprised to observe how much work they had completed over the course of several months. For Ruchit, this moment and the moment when their work was finally deployed was quite affirming. “At that time I feel that I am adding some value to the business which is quite motivating to me,” he said.
The great contributions of the Student Researchers have been recognized by Dan Flatt, CEO and Founder of Naborino. It has also been one of the leading factors for his commitment to pursue another partnership with WIMTACH. “Once we started the program and started working with the team, it was really amazing to just see the level of enthusiasm, the creative problem solving, the attitude and the output, the actual quality of the development work that the team was delivering on a week to week basis,” he said. “I was really impressed.” Professor Viji noted that this new collaboration is a result of the student’s creativity, their inventive ideas as well as their professionalism. She noted that the Student Researchers have exceeded her expectations and impressed her with their reliability and commitment to produce great work. “Nothing comes for free, it’s because of the team effort and only because of that, that this has become a successful landing.”
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