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Client opportunities

Employers are invited to take advantage of the skills and knowledge of current UMSI students by serving as clients for various courses. Opportunities include libraries and archives, website user experience and design, data analytics, health informatics, community engagement and more.

How do I become a client?

Complete this brief form with your contact information and a short summary of your project idea. Our client engagement team will review your submission and reach out to you within three business days with next steps. 

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Lansing

SI 547: Engaging with Communities

Master’s-level graduate students conduct interviews with community leaders and collect data from local, state, federal and international data, building community profiles with relevant demographic information to help better identify community needs and inform community initiatives and outreach.

What clients receive: 

  • A community profile 

Potential clients should meet these criteria: 

  • Be housed within a community of less than 25,000 people
  • Be a community center, city government, library or other community-based organization
  • Be able to introduce students to at least five relevant people willing to be interviewed (e.g., government employees, K-12 educators, librarians, non-profit leaders, local business owners, realtors) 

Successful past projects: 

  • An adult services librarian new to their community would like to better understand the community to help target collection development, programming and other services that would fit local interests.
  • A library serving small, rural villages and a lower-income population would like to evaluate the needs of the community in order to find new ways to engage people who don’t currently take advantage of its outreach services.

Timeline: Fall semester (September-December)

CMS

SI 631: Agile Software Development for Content Management Systems

Master's-level graduate students work with clients to develop new, complex websites built on the Drupal open-source content management system that support content management and related interactions either within the client organization or between the client and outside users and groups.

What clients receive: 

  • A working site
  • Design documents
  • Documentation and user manuals (100-130 pages) 

Potential clients should meet these criteria: 

  • Be in need of a website to manage existing content and/or communities that require interaction
  • Have users who interact with the site somehow
  • Have an interest in deploying the site at the end of the term
  • Be able to help students by explaining your group’s work and giving continuous feedback
  • Be able to designate a point of contact who is willing to spend at least one hour per week with the student team by phone/Skype/etc. or in person

Past clients include: 

Timeline: Winter semester (January-April) 

Data

SI 485: Information Analysis Final Project 

Advanced undergraduate students deliver data-oriented solutions through the development and analysis of data sets, building tools to extract useful information for clients through manipulation, analysis and visualization. 

What clients receive: 

  • A written report 

  • Additional deliverable(s) determined collaboratively between the students and the client, which may include any of the following: 

    • New data sets

    • Additions to existing data sets

    • Code repositories

    • System-level documentation to instruct clients on using scripts generated for the project

    • Other negotiated deliverables

Potential clients should meet these criteria: 

  • Be able to meet with students in the fall to define project requirements

  • Be able to meet with students throughout the winter semester while the project is in process 

  • Be able to provide feedback and evaluation at a few designated milestones that forms part of the students’ final course assessment 

Successful past projects: 

  • Developing an algorithm to create visualizations for the pro bono division of the Chicago Bar Foundation to produce meaningful visualizations that can help the Justice Entrepreneurs Project allocate funds toward proper channels 

  • Working with leadership from Fort Myers Fire Department to gather, analyze and build upon key data sources to develop a tool that can identify, define and prioritize at-risk buildings

  • Working with the Public Library Association to build a tool for decision makers involved with Project Outcome that makes sense of survey data gathered over three years from public libraries in the U.S. and Canada

Timeline: Winter semester (January-April), with a preparatory course in the fall semester (September-December)

Data

SI 667:  Foundations of Digital Curation and SI 699: Digital Curation

Master’s-level graduate students develop plans, procedures and documentation, and build model sets for the management, archiving, digitization and curation of large data sets and collections—especially for new types of content and technologies.

What clients may receive: 

  • Metadata curation
  • Recommendations on data curation best practices
  • Presentation of findings

Potential clients should meet these criteria: 

  • Possess large sets of data that require complex strategy and/or management
  • Be able to provide students with offsite access to their data before the start of the course
  • Be able to designate a primary contact who knows and understands the data or collection (preferably someone specialized in digital curation) 
  • Be able to designate a primary contact who can work with students to identify a deliverable and answer during U.S. business hours questions that arise over the course of the semester 
  • The most appealing applicants work with large sets of scientific data or are embedded within large research universities. 

Appropriate projects: 

  • Require students to do some hands-on work

Successful past projects: 

  • Assessing the state of a collection that has migrated across several different content management systems and lost contextual information, then formulating a strategy for its organization and metadata scheme and an implementation plan 
  • Assessing a data portal through which users can search for public records, creating a plan for metadata capture and standardization, and piloting tests of the plan
  • Assessing a government agency’s collection of hundreds of 3x5 floppy disks containing unique research data, creating and executing a plan to recover and migrate the data to modern media, extract/capture/create metadata, organize the collection, and create workflow documentation

Timeline: SI 667 and SI 699 occur in the winter semester (January-April) 

Clinical MHI

SI 672: Applied Clinical Informatics

Master’s-level graduate students shadow clinicians that work with information, learning and evaluating workflow and information processes and developing recommendations for improvement.

What clients receive:

  • Workflow map
  • Report with evaluation of and/or recommendations for an existing process

Potential clients should meet these criteria: 

  • Clinician inside Michigan Medicine
  • Able to provide support for a team of 3-4 students
  • Able to host between 9-12 student visits

Appropriate projects: 

  • Billing processes
  • Intake procedures
  • Blood draw procedures

Timeline: Winter semester (January-April)

Archives

SI 699: Special Projects in Librarianship and Archival Practice

Master’s-level graduate students take part in or lead special projects and participate in regular duties assigned to librarians or archivists for 100–200 hours over the course of four months, supplementing their in-person experience and preparing them for careers in librarianship or archival professions.

What clients may receive: 

  • Development of a workshop or a revision of an existing workshop
  • A new or updated resource guide
  • A significant number of records processed

Potential clients should meet these criteria: 

  • Be able to provide 100 hours of work per student (students may work individually or in teams of two) 
  • Be able to provide a range of work that is diverse and requires significant non-clerical duties

Eligible libraries and institutions include but are not limited to the following: 

  • Special libraries
  • Academic libraries
  • Public libraries
  • Historical societies
  • Museums
  • Archives

Successful past projects: 

  • Conducting a survey for the Saline District Library to discover where the library meets the needs of its community and where it has room to improve
  • Developing a post-occupancy assessment toolkit and other ancillary items to assess the impact of spatial changes to library environments at the University of Michigan following installations, renovations and improvement projects recommended by community stakeholders
  • Helping the City of Saline inventory, process and digitize a collection of papers, props and marionettes, including over 200 set pieces and several puppets, from the beloved collection of Meredith Bixby, who donated the collection to the city in 1999. 

Timeline: Winter semester (January-April)

Contextual inquiry

SI 501: Contextual Inquiry and Consulting Foundations

Through meetings and interviews with stakeholders, observations of work practices and information system usage, and examination of artifacts, master’s-level graduate students identify, analyze and recommend solutions for challenges related to products, services and information processes. 

What clients receive: 

  • Written report with recommendations
  • Clients may invite students to present formally their findings and recommendations

Potential clients should meet these criteria: 

  • Within 50 miles of Ann Arbor (preference given to local projects) 
  • Have a product, service, information process or communication process already in place that needs repair or improvement
  • Be able to provide at least 5 relevant people who would be willing to be interviewed and observed in person for 60-90 minutes by the student team in September-November
  • Be able to accommodate the course

Appropriate projects: 

  • Improving or repairing an existing information or communication process
  • Improving or repairing an existing product or service
  • Evaluating service design, such as processes for walk-in customers at service desks

Successful past projects: 

  • Reviewing a health clinic’s telephone queue and voicemail system, with attention to why call abandonment rates are so high 
  • Investigating how an online job-matching company could improve retention and engagement of its resume-posting users
  • Exploring how a public library’s process to acquire and weed materials among its three branches could be integrated and streamlined

Timeline: Fall semester (September-December)

SI 529: Online Communities

Master’s-level graduate students analyze an existing online interaction environment and provide recommendations to help fulfill unmet needs or provide guidance on the creation of a new online community. 

What clients receive: 

  • A report with objective, thorough and detailed feedback on their existing online community, or guidance toward the development of one 

Potential clients should meet these criteria: 

  • Have an existing online community or want to develop one
  • Be able to provide student access to members of the organization for interviews
  • Be able to provide student access to engage with any existing online community
  • Be able to provide student access to community members

Successful past projects: 

  • Creating an easy-to-manage online platform that allows a community organization to engage with its many different stakeholder groups, building a sense of community among them and maintaining effective channels of communication 
  • Analyzing a web portal to determine if there are more effective ways to reach and engage a sensitive user population that needs access to resources spread around the internet
  • Analyzing a website through which two distinct user groups interact to determine the best ways to facilitate conversations and purchases between the groups

Timeline: Winter semester (January-April)

user research

Evaluate the usability of your existing website, application or digital experience; create initial designs and mockups for a new one; create a new website using a content management system; learn more about how users engage with your interactive website or product; or solve a challenge around technology and accessibility. 

Research

SI 682: Advanced User Research in the Field

What clients receive: 

  • Written report with recommendations supported by user research
  • Presentation (at UMSI’s ExpoSItion) 

Potential clients should meet these criteria: 

  • Have offices, clients, customers or users within a 75-mile radius of Ann Arbor
  • Be able to facilitate direct interaction between students and clients/users

Appropriate projects: 

  • Related to a product in the early stages of its life cycle 

Successful past projects: 

  • Conducting research to determine what processes are already in place for family history collection and interviewing medical providers to determine what additional features could improve these processes
  • Conducting research to determine what sort of rating and data presentation system would be effective for conveying the findings of accessibility evaluation reports
  • Conducting research to support the development of a voice-activated application to support physicians as they save and access patient information

Timeline: Winter semester (January-April) 

Design

SI 487: User Experience Final Project

Advanced undergraduate students deliver design solutions to problems that involve user requirements analysis, user research, prototyping and user experience evaluation. 

What clients receive: 

  • Visual prototype
  • Specification documentation 
  • Written report

Potential clients should meet these criteria: 

  • Be able to designate a point of contact who can provide students with necessary requirements and provide feedback on designs during the winter semester
  • Be able to provide system access to students as needed
  • Be able to facilitate meetings with stakeholders

Ideal clients and projects come from the greater Ann Arbor and Detroit region, including all of southeast and central Michigan. 

Successful past projects: 

  • Designing an integrated onboarding experience for a video editing software application
  • Redesigning the user experience on a library website for searching archives and other materials
  • Designing a mobile-first companion website for a web application

Timeline: Winter semester (January-April), with a preparatory course in the fall semester (September-December) 

Development

SI 699: User-Centered Agile Development 

Master’s-level graduate students work with clients to identify potential project areas, then employ user-centered Agile methodologies to conduct research and develop products, applications or services. 

What clients receive: 

  • An MVP (minimum viable prototype — a scaled down or rough version) of an application, product or service
  • A written report
  • A video presentation

Potential clients should meet these criteria: 

  • Have a project idea that can be scoped down together with a student team to something accomplishable in one semester
  • Happy to have an MVP as the project deliverable
  • Willing to make a significant commitment to working with students (setting weekly goals for the project, being present for receives, being accessible to address students’ questions and concerns as they arise, etc.) 
  • Have some exposure to Agile methodologies (expertise is not required, but some familiarity is helpful) 
  • Responsive to user research insights and flexible with potential changes to the project

Appropriate projects: 

  • Not mission critical 
  • In the early stages of development, ideally still an idea or concept
  • Large in scope but can be scaled down (e.g., you have an idea for an application that runs on multiple platforms but for this project are willing to accept a version that runs on a single platform) 

Successful past projects: 

  • Assisting Dell with a redesign of their order status portal, helping customers more easily locate their order details
  • Helping ORB Toys, a rapidly growing toy company, with designs for a new asset management portal to alleviate the massive workload accumulated under their previous system 
  • Helping Court Innovations improve the accessibility and usability of one of its software products, Matterhorn, which allows people to fight misdemeanors online rather than going to court to argue for lesser charges

Timeline: Winter semester (January-April) 

Evaluation

SI 622: Needs Assessment and Usability Evaluation

Master’s-level graduate students work with clients to evaluate how well the user experience of their product or service meets the needs of its users, using a variety of methods to identify areas where the product or system succeeds and where it can be better at helping users achieve their goals. 

What clients receive: 

  • Interaction map 
  • Interview report, including personas and scenarios
  • Comparative analysis
  • Survey report
  • Heuristic evaluation
  • Usability test report
  • Final presentation

Potential clients should meet these criteria: 

  • Be able to provide students access to a software system (e.g., a website, desktop software, mobile application, voice-activated peripheral, etc.) to evaluate
  • Be able to help provide students with or help them obtain contact information for current or potential users of the system for user interviews, surveys and usability testing

Successful past projects: 

  • Exploring what new features could be used to differentiate a voice-activated app from other first-party experiences on the Alexa app 
  • Discovering more innovative ways to offer learning content digitally, at scale, using new technologies
  • Gaining a deeper understanding of a website’s audience and stakeholder needs while updating navigation and search, and identifying solutions to challenges with site maintenance and editing

Timeline: Winter semester (January-April) 

Technology and accessibility

SI 552: Technology and Accessibility

Clients present case studies in four areas of accessibility in technology (mobility, hearing, sight and cognitive) to master’s-level graduate students, who spend four weeks per study brainstorming unique, workable solutions to challenges around technology and accessibility. 

What clients receive: 

  • Voice interface
  • Visual assistance
  • A website or tool
  • Tangible prototype for haptics

Appropriate projects: 

  • Accessibility and technology focused, but go beyond web design/development
  • Focus on one of the disability topics covered in the class (mobility, hearing, sight, cognitive) 
  • Short-term (scoped to be completed within four weeks) 

Timeline: Fall semester (September-December) 

UMSI has several opportunities for organizations to collaborate with students on information challenges outside of our client-based courses. 

Alternative breaks

Students from the Master of Science in Information, Master of Health Informatics and Bachelor of Science in Information programs work on a variety of information challenges proposed by organizations in Washington, D.C., Chicago and Detroit. 

What clients receive: 

  • The final deliverables for Alternative Spring and Fall Break are determined mutually between participating organizations and students 

Potential clients should meet these criteria: 

  • Be a public organization (nonprofit, government, education or cultural) 
  • Located in the metro areas of Detroit, Chicago or Washington, D.C. 
  • Willing to spend time with students, providing them with a well-rounded experience, educating them on the purpose of the organization and introducing them to relevant colleagues

Appropriate projects: 

  • At the professional (rather than, e.g., intern) level 

Successful past projects: 

  • Reviewing and analyzing data sets for an educational institution to help program managers improve programming and influence outcomes
  • Migrating a small online retailer’s online shop from a custom solution to Shopify, which includes cleaning, reformatting and importing inventory data and theming the new store
  • Assessing a library’s collection of Children’s Book Award winners and generating a list of missing books, organized by award

Timeline: Alternative Spring Break occurs in the winter semester, during spring recess (one week in mid-March); Alternative Fall Break occurs in the fall semester, during fall study break (two days in mid-October) 

Citizen Interaction Design

CID connects Michigan communities with information students who develop new information tools that foster civic engagement on a broad range of topics.

What clients receive: 

  • An information product, tool or service
  • A sustainability report that describes the requirements to implement and sustain the product

Potential clients should meet these criteria: 

  • Projects are developed with existing CID partner communities, which are Michigan cities that have a population of 20,000 to 200,000. Please contact umsi.citizeninteraction@umich.edu to learn more about becoming a CID partner community. 

Successful past projects: 

  • Working with disAbility Connections to build a tool that helps people with disabilities choose and plan visits to restaurants and retailers based on the accessibility of their buildings
  • Creating a way for Ferndale citizens to contribute their solutions to vermin control — students’ solution, Rat Chat, offered a simple, text-based way to report rat information in a format that improved response efficiency of city staff 
  • Working with the Ferndale Police Department and community members to implement an open data initiative in the city and increase trust and transparency between the community and the police 

Timeline: Fall semester (September-December) 

Design Clinic

Interdisciplinary teams of four to six bachelor’s and master’s students, mentored by professionals, collaborate and innovate on fast-paced, self-driven, semester-long projects, acting as consultants by managing projects, scoping deliverables, executing on mutually-agreed upon outcomes and creating a plan for sustainable implementation. 

What clients may receive: 

  • User research reports
  • User experience testing
  • Personas
  • Information architecture updates
  • Workflow strategy and documentation for archival work
  • Digitization of files
  • Data cleaning, analysis and visualization 
  • Prototypes for a new or redesigned website, application, database, dashboard or other digital tool

Potential clients should meet these criteria: 

  • Be able to meet with the student team at least once a week throughout a period of 13 weeks
  • Be able to work with students to scope the project, define deliverables and provide clear feedback on progress
  • Be able to provide relevant information and context to student teams about their company, organization and/or project

Appropriate projects: 

  • Able to be completed in 13 weeks
  • Include a set of projected deliverables 
  • Provide evidence of access to the target user group and/or data set prior to the start of the semester 
  • Include opportunities for creative and innovative exploration of the challenge

Successful past projects: 

  • Analyzing Comerica Bank’s current methods of internal communications, looking for ways to improve those methods or introduce new methods to help increase internal engagement
  • Helping a local nonprofit develop an online assessment tool for caregivers to increase awareness and utilization of the resources available to help them avoid and respond to potential crises
  • Assisting a company developing a Facebook Messenger bot designed to interact with students traveling internationally 

Timeline: Fall projects (September-December); winter projects (January-April)