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University of Michigan School of Information


Project Examples

Reviewing examples of past projects can help guide project proposals. Below is a sampling of projects students have completed in the past across different courses and programs.

User Experience

SI 487: User Experience Final Project

  • BackPac. BackPac is a mobile application that aims to activate a network of volunteers. Students worked on BackPac’s Partner App (an interface aimed specifically at Volunteer Coordinators to create and post their events) to provide the interface with a new design and experience. View the project Portfolium.

  • Backyard Brains. Students were tasked with helping Backyard Brains, a company that develops neuroscience tools for teachers, design an online community for teachers using their products. View the project Portfolium.

SI 622: Needs Assessment and Usability Evaluation

  • Voice Activation. Students explored what new features could be used to differentiate a voice-activated app from other first-party experiences on the Alexa app.
  • Website Improvements. Students updated a website’s navigation and search options and identified solutions to site maintenance and editing challenges. They developed a deeper understanding of the website's audience and stakeholder needs.

SI 682: Advanced User Research in the Field

  • Improving Distance Learning. Students helped a tech company specializing in educational tools uncover the shortcomings posed by distance learning and explored how the company might improve its tools to help educators and students overcome those issues.
  • Small Business Budgeting. Students helped a bank conduct research about small business owners and their interest in budgeting and financial management tools.

SI 699: User-Centered Agile Development

  • Pairing Users and Mechanics. Students worked with Mechanicus to build a mobile app that pairs users with mechanics to complete repairs based on users location. View the project final poster.
  • Connecting Community Users. Students worked with Collaboratory Online to build a web-based app to connect organizations and individuals in Southwest Florida based on common needs and interests. View the project final poster.

Design Clinic

Cultural Heritage Institutions

SI 633: Assessment in Cultural Institutions

  • Student Archival Engagement. Students developed a tool to collect qualitative and quantitative data to measure undergraduate student learning and engagement in regard to primary source and archival literacy.
  • Responding to User Needs. Students designed and implemented a study to assess how well the National Museum of Women in the Arts Library and Research Center responds to library users’ needs.

SI 699: Special Projects in Librarianship and Archival Practice

  • Archival Recommendations. The Electronic Privacy Information Center lacked an online database for digital records. Students identified, analyzed, and recommended solutions for archival infrastructure to make it easier for users and staff to search for and access records with consistency.
  • Developing a Museum Digital Preservation Policy. Students collaborated with the Swedish American Museum to create a tailored policy and a set of implementable processes for preserving digital content.

SI 699: Digital Curation Mastery

  • Digital Preservation Assessment. Students worked with Sage Bionetworks to develop a digital preservation strategy for the organization to enhance the long-term reuse potential of its least replaceable research data.
  • File Donation. Students worked with University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point to create a manual submission web page to allow locally held files to be donated.

Process Analysis

SI 501: Contextual Inquiry and Consulting Foundations

  • Assessing Call Abandonment. Students reviewed a health clinic's telephone queue and voicemail system to assess why call abandonment rates are so high and provided recommendations.
  • Public Library Integration. Students explored how a public library's process to acquire and sort materials among its three branches could be integrated and streamlined and provided recommendations.

Data Analysis

SI 485: Information Analytics Project

  • Community Health in the Dominican Republic. UMSI students worked with the non-profit Puente, which creates mobile data software to assess, map, and prioritize community needs in the Dominican Republic. Students used machine learning models to cluster communities by indicators of community wellness in order to identify areas with the most need.
  • BankBlackUSA. Students worked to create a full interactive dashboard and comparison tool that could be easily integrated to the Bank Black site through link embedding. The dashboard provided users with easily digestible information about Minority Depository Institutions, Community Development Financial Institutions, and why using them can benefit individuals and communities.

Civic Engagement

SI 350: UX Field Research in the Public Sector

  • Addressing Community Needs in COVID-19. Students worked with the City of Ann Arbor during COVID-19 to answer the following questions: How can city staff best align their information-sharing with the needs of Ann Arbor residents? How can residents contribute their ideas, concerns, and questions to community projects and decisions? What does public participation and engagement look like with physical distancing requirements in place?

SI 538: Citizen Interaction Design

  • Rat Chat. Students were tasked with creating a way for Ferndale citizens to contribute to solutions for vermin control. Their solution, Rat Chat, offered a simple, text-based way to report rat information in a format that improved response efficiency of city staff.
  • Access for All. Students worked 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. The website now operates in three counties with plans to expand to more.

Civic User Testing (CUT) Group

  • Helping Cities Better Serve Their Citizens. Students partnered with the City of Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation Department to address the website for kayaking and canoeing trips which was confusing for many users.
  • Testing the Detroit Assistant Tool. Students worked with Data Driven Detroit and the City of Detroit to design, execute, and report on a usability test of the Detroit Assistant, a voice interface tool that runs on Google Home and Google Assistant.

Community Engagement

Alternative Fall Break

  • Reimagining the Library Using Shipping Containers. Students partnered with the Detroit Public Library Foundation to reimagine how city residents could engage with their neighborhood library branch by using upcycled shipping containers to create library branch extensions.

Alternative Spring Break

  • Converting Volunteers to Donors. Students interviewed relevant stakeholders, watched data collection and analysis processes on the front- and back-end, and refined an existing survey to provide recommendations on how the organization could convert its donors to volunteers.
  • Big Book Data.  Students built a web app where librarians can visually compare the quality of their book collection with other libraries using non-invasive methods.

SI 688: Global Information Engagement Program

  • Mapping Memories of Cape Town’s District Six. Students researched and published an online map capturing life in the District Six community where, during apartheid, residents were removed and buildings were demolished.
  • GIEP in India. Students spent time in parts of India working on various projects, including developing their own tech solutions for mobile maternal-child health care issues, creating a web-based mapping system prototype to increase transparency in property transactions, and more.

Design Jams

UMSI Community Corps

  • Connecting Data Sources. Students aimed to understand how the Chicago Council on Science and Technology connected their data sources and provided recommendations for efficient use in the future, considering aspects such as optimized storage, purposeful collection, and improved analysis.
  • Fostering virtual volunteering Across the US. Students tackled eleven different projects ranging from nonprofit workflow to voting rights analysis. In one project, students worked with the Institute of American Indian Arts to assist in the migration of collections databases to a new database system in order to create research guides and make the work of Native artists more accessible.

Student Run Programs


  • Data Analysis. Students used a combination of analytical tools to gather, organize, and analyze data to help develop recommendations to take organizations in the necessary direction for growth.
  • User Experience. Students helped organizations develop the most user-efficient product to give customers the best experience. Students specialize in understanding current markets and customers, and how to apply that knowledge to making products as user-friendly as possible.


  • African Storybook. Students assisted African Storybook, an organization dedicated to providing children’s stories in African languages, in examining data on storybook downloads and usage across Africa and beyond and creating visualizations. 
  • Ballot Scout. Students were tasked with analyzing a dataset of voting ballot scan points to report information on how long it took ballots to be sent through the mail.

Service Week

  • Cataloging LGBTQ Literature. At the Jim Toy Community Center, volunteers were able to successfully catalogue a total of 1,215 books on LGBTQ literature in 3 days.
  • Preparing the Arb’s Peony Gardens. At the Nichols Arboretum, ten staff and students helped prepare the peony gardens for winter, using wheelbarrows to move stockpiles of mulch to spread in the beds.

Contact Us

Engaged Learning Office | [email protected] | (734) 763-1251

Please complete this form to submit a project proposal for one of our client-based courses or other programs, or to receive information about these opportunities throughout the year.