Archive for the ‘Information Systems’ Category

AU Information Systems Class Creates System to be used by Facilities Department

The Ashland University Dauch College of Business and Economics often provides opportunities for students to gain real-world experience through upper level classes, internships, and projects. Information System students enrolled in a course titled Database Management taught by Dr. Nitin Walia were involved in developing and implementing a database application for AU’s facilities department.  As a final project for this semester’s class, Dr. Walia wanted to expose the students to a real-world database system implementation.  He discovered that the AU Facilities and Management Planning department was struggling with their current system.  Chris Hassmann, Director of Facilities and Management Planning at Ashland, expressed an interest in having the students create a new system for tracking employee environmental health and safety training.  He explained that the system would be essential in accurately tracking and reporting regulatory trainings required by (a) Safety – OSHA regulations, (b) Fire & Life Safety – NFPA Fire Codes, and (c) Environmental – EPA Regulations. The documentation (reports) generated by the system may be relied upon if inspected by a regulatory agency, or if in the event of an injury, an employee’s training is questioned.

For the development of project, the class was divided into two teams.  The objective of the project included designing a database so that it could actually be used by Chris and his department. In early November, the students met with Chris to establish the requirements for the system. They discussed the process of health and safety training as well as what Chris would like out of the system. Students documented everything that he desired about his ideal way to track and report on employee training. During the course of development students communicated with Chris for any clarification on the project requirements. With less than a month until the project delivery date, students distributed time among each stage of database development.  Database management class includes learning ER-Diagrams, third normal form (3NF), and SQL -the international standard language for database use. It can be agreed upon by all students that every concept learned from day one of database class was required to complete this project.  The students were given the freedom of creativity in designing menu screens, data entry forms, and reports. Besides creating the data entry forms, the system Development also included functionality for creating certificates to be generated for each employee after they finish the training session, ability to store training materials for each course, and store and track sign-in sheet of employees for each training session. Group members delegated tasks across the board to bring together one complete database by using SQL and Microsoft Access-2010 to design forms and reports. Each group created a different version of the Environmental Health and Safety Training database and presented it to Chris at the end of the semester. Dr. Walia presented the idea that they could possibly combine the two team designs to deliver maximum functionality in the end.

On December 6th-2011, the groups presented their finished products to Chris Hassmann and Rick Ewing, Vice President of Facilities Management and Planning. Each group explained the process of development and provided the audience with a demo of each system, followed by a Q&A session.  In addition, an extensive system documentation booklet on how to use each system was also provided. Rick Ewing and Chris Hassmann expressed great thanks to the students and stated that this system will be a great asset to their department. They also offered students an opportunity for internship at the facilities department. At the end of the presentation each student received a ‘Certificate of Achievement’ for completion of the project and an eagle’s gift card.

The Dauch College of Business and Economics continues to prepare students for real-world experiences such as this.  This semester’s information systems database management class surely used skills learned in this upper-level course to leave a personal mark on Ashland University.

Prepared by Holly James (Junior, IS Major)

Students Quotes

Holly James, Junior (IS Major)

Contributing a system to the university was a fantastic experience.  Under the guidance of Dr. Walia, we were able to experience both the challenges and rewards of project management.  We not only drew from our database skills, but each of us also received a certificate validating the completion of a system implemented at Ashland University signed by both Chris and Rick. It was the perfect ending to our database course. I think the other students would agree that this experience will definitely help us for the future! 

 Brent Lemaster, Senior (IS Major)

I felt that the project was a great way to gain real world experience.

Justin Nolan, Junior (IS, CS Major)

I would like to say that it was great to use what we learned in class on a real-world project. It’s an experience that cannot be taught.

Eric Hillier, Senior (IS Major)

Creating the database was one of the most applicable uses of what we learned in class. While it was a great learning experience, it was a terrific business experience.

Comments of Project Sponsors

Patrick Ewing

VP, Facilities Management & Planning

Ashland University

I want to thank you as well, for your willingness to work with Chris in what I view as a mutually beneficial exercise. We were really impressed by the work of your students in listening to our needs and producing simple, yet effective solutions to our database needs. The quality and professionalism of both the products and the presentations reflect the high level of learning that is taking place in your class and your exceptional students. We are very pleased to have been able to provide this real-world project scenario and we are even more pleased to have a usable product that will improve the operational efficiency of our department.

Christopher Hassmann

Director, Environmental Health & Safety

Ashland University

            It was a pleasure working with your class this semester. The database created by your students will be used to ensure that Ashland University maintains compliance with regulatory training requirements. An important aspect of ensuring compliance is providing the proper documentation. The product produced by your students will provide a simple and effective means to do this. Thank you for working with us on this project.


Dr. Nitin Walia

Asst. Professor, Accounting/IS Department, COBE

I believe this was a mutually beneficial exercise for all the parties involved. Students got an opportunity to develop a real-world application which would be implemented and used by Ashland University. Facilities dept. was able to get a fully functional application developed at a marginal cost, and most significantly this exercise enriched the course content of the Database class. I will definitely repeat this exercise in my future classes. 


From Left : Yu Gu, Jason Sacash ,Brent Lemaster, Eric Hillier, Alan Saunders, Justin Nolan,Holly James, Dr. Nitin Walia, Chris Hassmann,  Patrick Ewing


From Left : Yu Gu, Jason Sacash ,Brent Lemaster, Eric Hillier, Dr. Nitin Walia, Chris Hassmann,  Patrick Ewing



 From Left : Holly James, Justin Nolan, Alan Saunders, Dr. Nitin Walia, Chris Hassmann,  Patrick Ewing

Team A – Entity-Relationship Diagram

This Entity-Relationship Diagram provides the basis for efficient creation of this database.  This is the guideline that the development team used as a basis to begin developing the actual system in Microsoft Access.  Each box represents an entity (table) built into the database design.


Team B – Start-Up Form

Team A – Start-Up Form

Session Information Form



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