Carnegie Mellon University
December 03, 2013

Media Advisory: Carnegie Mellon Students Build Software Solutions for Nonprofits

Contact: Shilo Rea / 412-268-6094 /

Event: Software systems are typically very expensive, putting them out of reach for many nonprofit organizations. But seniors majoring in information systems (IS) at Carnegie Mellon University annually come to the rescue, creating software systems for a select group of nonprofits. The work not only benefits the nonprofits, it gives the students the opportunity to build real-world applications while learning teamwork, project management and other valuable skills.

This year, 11 student teams will showcase their final projects to their clients, professors and the community. The projects include:

Smart Paths: Smart Futures is a nonprofit organization that provides online career education resources and training to schools and community-based organizations in Pennsylvania. Working with its executive director David Mosey, the CMU team built an application that will give Smart Futures' students information on post-secondary education options. "Smart Paths" will allow users who have attended universities or other programs to review their options and experiences in a number of categories.

In the Pocket 2013: Best of the Batch Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded by former Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch in 1999. Based in the Pittsburgh area, the foundation works with financially challenged youth to help them participate and thrive in sports, academics and community involvement.  The annual "In the Pocket" event serves as the primary fundraising arm of the foundation. The CMU students built a fast, secure and reliable registration and game management system for the event.

Six Degrees of Francis Bacon: Six Degrees of Francis Bacon is a digital reconstruction of the early modern social network directed by Carnegie Mellon English Professor Christopher Warren. Scholars and students will use the project to study the way that early modern people associated and communicated with each other. More than 6,000 individuals and 300,000 relationships are currently represented in the database.  The goal for the CMU IS team was to add a crowdsourcing component to the visualization to facilitate the quick gathering of information from multiple sources. They also worked to add functionality, including allowing users to explore relationships in new ways and improving the user experience.

Pittsburgh Comedy Festival: In 2014, Pittsburgh will host a sizable comedy festival.  Working for the event organizers, the IS team developed a system to help attendees navigate all of the different aspects and events of the festival.

Windformation: The students created a Web application to present demographic, ecological, probability of opposition and other data about past and proposed wind farm facilities in the United States.  The application, developed for CMU Social and Decision Sciences Professor Paul Fischbeck, parses and presents the data in a user-friendly map, configurable table and graphic visualization.

GreenLight: Artificial lights are typically designed to light a room completely on their own, without any assistance from ambient light sources, such as sunlight.  When sunlight or other sources are present, artificial light is often emitted in excess of what is needed.  This project addressed this problem by providing an automated system to dim artificial light based on the amount of ambient light present.  The students developed two separate hardware components and a Web application to manage the lighting.

Carnegie Mellon's IS Program in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences is an internationally recognized undergraduate major for students who want to design and implement effective solutions to meet organizational and management needs for information and decision support. For more information, visit

When:  3:30 - 5 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6

Where: Porter Hall 222, Carnegie Mellon University

Cost: Free and open to the public.