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Senior Project - COWAbunga


Web-Based Support System for the Conference on World Affairs

Senior Project: 2007-2008
Paul Johnson, Corey Sherman and William Tong

The Conference on World Affairs is a conference on "everything conceivable" including music, literature, environment, science, journalism, visual arts, diplomacy, technology, spirituality, the film industry, politics, business, medicine, human rights and more. It is held every year in the month of April and is completely free to the general public. The conference consists of approximately 100 participants who speak in various panels discussing cross-disciplinary subjects.

Conference organizers have been using a paper-based system to schedule the week-long program. This system consisted of using "Betty Sheets", which were simply time sheets that held information regarding panel name, participants, venue, and other information. This paper-based system made finding various conflicts, such as a panelist being in two panels at the same time, a very long and arduous task. Also, the schedule evolves and undergoes nearly continuous change until it is finalized. Keeping the paper-based system updated is an extremely tedious and error-prone task.

The solution was to create a web based scheduling system that allows organizers to enter information on panelists, producers, moderators and venues, along with availability and other constraints that each may have. Panels can then be created; panelists, moderators and producers can then be assigned to the panels; and finally panels can be placed in the various venues at appropriate times. The system detects conflicts immediately as they arise, alerting the organizers and assisting in the resolution of any conflicts that are found. This allows conference organizers to focus more on content and less on potential conflicts they may be creating.

The aim was not to go completely paperless, but rather to provide a framework from which

  1. clean, current copies of all master documents can be printed in a variety of formats,

  2. a large variety of views of the current schedule are available via web browser, and

  3. constraint violations (conflicts) are noted as they arise.

This web based solution combined with the paper based system allows conference organizers to use a system they are familiar with in conjunction with a system that makes management and update considerably less difficult. The system was implemented in Perl and designed to have a very lightweight footprint by not relying on any software beyond "standard" UNIX tools.

Participant Editor
Participant Editor
Availability Editor
Availability Editor
Panel Editor
Panel Editor
Schedule View
Schedule View
Log Viewer
Log Viewer
See also:
Department of Computer Science
College of Engineering and Applied Science
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309-0430 USA
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May 5, 2012 (14:07)