College of Information Studies Holds 2019 iSchool Symposium


Shaune Young stands with her poster on data visualization in library assessment in the Grand Ballroom of the Stamp Student Union on May 8, 2019. Young’s project focused on the excuses people make for returning library items late. (Photo by Casey Gannon)

By Casey Gannon

The College of Information Studies held its 2019 iSchool Symposium in the Grand Ballroom of the Stamp Student Union on Wednesday.

This year’s symposium was centered around six themes: Cybersecurity and Privacy; Data Analytics; Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility; Year of Immigration; Education and Youth Learning; and Smart and Connected Communities. Students either presented their projects through a poster or a presentation.

The students participating in the iSchool Symposium were primarily students pursuing a master’s degree. Shruit Karwande and Aakanksha Singh are both working on a master’s degree in information management. Karwande explained that she was interested in information sciences because of its relevance in today’s world.

“It’s so relevant to the problems that the IT world is facing right now,” Karwande said.

Singh became interested in information sciences for a different reason and actually began in a different field.

“So I was actually working with a project in a civil engineering field,” Singh said. “That’s when I realized data was so big and it was the next big thing. Everyone wants to study problems with data, and I looked into that field and it really interested me.”

The two teamed up for their project and worked with the National Institute of Health [NIH] in Rockville.

“They gave us a lot of workforce data to help understand what their employee demographics are, what their salary, hiring, retirement trends are across the various divisions at the NIH,” Karwande said.

This data allows the NIH to predict when someone may retire, what departments need more employees and other factors of the company. They used tactics like focus groups to help them complete their research and project.

Shaune Young is working on a master’s in library and information sciences. She received her bachelor’s degree at Cedarville University in Ohio before coming to the University of Maryland. Young plans to work in an academic library or university after graduating. She completed two separate projects.

“One is the late fees for libraries, and people submit their excuses as to why their item is late,” Young said. “I went through and put in codes for each reason and put it in a software to visualize what that would look like.”

Her other project was for Loyola University in Baltimore. She created an assessment of how their space has changed overtime.They have done many renovations from 2015 to 2018, so she worked with the data to see how much the usage has changed.

Young was one of the many students who were unaware of the cash prize. She said if she were to win she would use the money to pay off her student loans.  

Alisha Gonsalves is a master’s student studying information management. She was interested in information sciences for many reasons but primarily for the multitude of outlets data can be used for.

“The thing that stood out to me was that information can be taken any way, it’s not just analytics, or it’s not just strategy, it can be turned into user experience,” Gonsalves said.

Her project was focused on four fields: machine learning, informative strategy, data visualization and data analytics. She was able to strengthen her soft skills used in the field of information sciences by working on this project.

“When I get into the field, I need to have an X-factor,” Gonsalves said. “I feel like having and showcasing these soft skills will put me apart and set me to a higher position faster.”

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