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Businesses go online with help from U

November 28, 2000

Several area businesses are entering the e-commerce arena thanks to some MSU students.

As part of their senior design projects, students in this semester’s Computer Science and Engineering 498 course have developed Web sites as prototypes for what those businesses might want to create as their permanent home pages.

“They do this on their own and we don’t tell them how,” said Bill Punch, a computer science professor who teaches the collaborative design course.

“A customer who isn’t knowledgeable in the practical areas wouldn’t do this themselves.”

Punch said the class is part of the department’s plan to have students do realistic software development work in a group setting with real customers on topical problems.

Some of the businesses participating in the project are Evergreen Grill, 327 Abbott Road, Melting Moments Homemade Ice Creams, 313 E. Grand River Ave., and Norm Kesel Florist Inc., 109 E. Grand River Ave.

This is the first time students in the class have worked with East Lansing businesses, and Punch said many of the businesses are looking for ways to keep the Web sites running in the future.

“We’re programming it for someone who doesn’t know how to use any of this stuff,” said Paul Jablonski, a computer science senior enrolled in the course. “The next step is to get him to use it somehow and keep it going.”

Jablonski worked with a group of three other computer science seniors to create a Web site for Hankins Gallery, 280 M.A.C. Ave.

During a span of 14 weeks, students met with the customer, designed and implemented the sites, and are now improving their designs and providing documentation.

Jason Hawrysz, another computer science senior, said his group spent much of its time meeting with its client to find out what he wanted from his Web site. From there, most of the work consisted of layout and design.

“It took a little while to know the tools we’d be using,” said Hawrysz, who’s also working for Hankins Gallery. “We weren’t sure about using the ‘virtual framing’ features.”

He said his group had to construct a way to allow users to create a frame for the art.

Among other things, he had to work with his client to show him how to use a digital camera.

“What I’ll take away is client interaction,” Hawrysz said. “Customer interaction is what’s important here for me.”

Given what he already knew about Web site design, computer science senior Neilam Amin - who also worked for the gallery - said the project wasn’t too hard.

But there was a lot of time spent to create a good product.

“We essentially put together a package,” Amin said. “Now they need to find someone to host it.”

The Web sites can be viewed at

Ray Walsh, owner of Curious Book Shop, 307 E. Grand River Ave., had a different experience than other business owners. Students helped him touch up his already-existing Web site,

“We appreciated their input,” he said of the students. “We’re glad we participated in it.”


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