Capstone Class Fall 2022 Final Blogs

Innovation Capstone Class Final Blogs

sketch of prototype for roadtrips

Road Trips

The Road To A Texas Highways Newsletter

Our design challenge was to help the Texas Highways team plan for a road trips newsletter. To get started, we met with the social media team as well as the publisher for Texas Highways, who provided insight into the goals and usual set-up for newsletter campaigns. From there, we identified two main goals: 1) to get more people to become frequent readers or subscribers through the newsletter content, and 2) to have people who just moved to Texas interested in the publication.

With these goals in mind, we also created a survey to determine what readers would like to see in the newsletter. To find respondents, we shared it widely within our personal circles and also reached out to Facebook groups for people who were new to Texas. Some of these respondents also agreed to be part of our focus group and gave us feedback on the prototypes we produced. The main takeaways from this initial response were that people were mostly interested in getting activities, itineraries, and restaurant suggestions. They also liked the idea of having multimedia content such as videos, and wanted the newsletter to be helpful in planning a trip. This meant including tools for budgeting, as well as tips and stops for the road. 

Based on this feedback, we created two prototypes that both received positive feedback. Our decision to include activity, restaurant, and lodging suggestions for different types of travelers–including solo road trippers, families, and adventurers, for example–was especially well-received. Because most people in our initial survey said they would be most likely to take a road trip over a long weekend, we provided detailed itineraries for all traveler types for two days and a list of additional suggestions. 

Besides our two prototypes, we also created a social media plan to facilitate the promotion of the newsletter in Texas Highways social media platform. The plan included a content calendar, as well as a list of potential influencer partners and example  promotion posts for Instagram, TikTok and Facebook.

Learn more about the project.

Road Trips Team

  • Riley Foster
  • Bella Rose Mortel
  • Daniela Roscero Cervantes
  • Nicole Swiggard
robot picture with text


 < Signing off - for now...>

After months of research, outreach, design and prototyping, we have something truly special for you all. We’d like to be the first to introduce you to SpotifAI - an AI-integrated slack bot that curates a personalized Spotify playlist down to the most minute detail. Are you feeling a bit down and need a playlist to lift your spirits? SpotifAI can do that. Are you going on a road trip and need a playlist that’s exactly one hour and twenty minutes long? SpotifAI got you covered. Tired of listening to Justin Bieber but still want songs that give the same vibe? Done and done. A new, interactive and novel and way of engaging with music is now at your fingertips, and we hope you find SpotfAI as fascinating and unique as we do. 

This process taught us a lot. We started with a simple design challenge: “how can we find a different way to curate Spotify playlists that allows for more customization?” Along the way, we learned more about Spotipy, API keys, reverse proxies, virtual environments, etc than we could ever want to. We spent countless hours testing inputs on Open-AI, seeing how specific each request could be. We went through multiple iterations of code to finally build a bot in Slack that we could interact with, then another handful of iterations to get that bot to provide an output of Spotify playlists. Beyond that, it taught us more about ourselves; for some of us, this was our first time ever touching Python, and yet, as daunting as it was, the opportunity to push ourselves out of our comfort zones and into the vast world of programming and artificial intelligence was invaluable. None of us had even heard of GPT-3 before embarking on this journey, and now it’s the heart of SpotifAI and something we will all revisit in the future. And although we may still be a far cry from replacing Spotify’s music recommendation engine, we’re proud to say that a rag-tag group of student journalists with little to no programming experience conceived SpotifAI, a small program that could have huge implications on playlist curation as we know it. 

That being said, not being able to create a fully-functional program from input to output was, for lack of better words, disappointing for us. We got each individual component to work, but just lacked the glue to piece it all together. Nonetheless, the fact that we were able to turn a Slack channel into virtually a GPT-3 playground, or that we were able to request a track, album, or artist’s Spotify metadata just within Slack was, in our opinions, impressive, and we believe that had we just a few more weeks and a little bit more experience and familiarity with the programs, that we could have built something truly remarkable. 

As the end of the semester winds down, we are unfortunately going on hiatus for the time being. That being said, we have a few closing remarks. First, thank you to Brandon Burris for his expertise in artificial intelligence and recommendation algorithms. We’d also like to shout out Ryan Serpico on guiding us through how to construct a working Slack Bot, and how to connect GPT-3 to Spotify. Our product would be nowhere near where it is know without their guidance and expertise. We’d also like to give thanks to professor Christian McDonald - thank you for believing in and encouraging us to pursue this program, and thank you for challenging us to dig deeper and more critically into what our final product would be. SpotifAI wears the mark of your guidance proudly, and grateful is an understatement. Lastly, we’d like to thank all of you, for following our journey from start to finish, providing feedback and shaping SpotifAI into what it is today. 

We have big plans for SpotifAI, and we hope to share them with you in the near future. Trust us when we say our work is far from done. We recognize that we have something truly special in our hands, and the possibilities of where we can take this are endless. Until then, this is the SpotifAI team signing off. 

Learn more about the project.

Demonstration of SpotifAI in action. Here, we specify the genre and artist

The SpotifAI team

  • Carolina Cruz
  • Cecilia Garzella
  • Trenton Henk
  • Yucheng Zhang
ut students at game with text on top

Game Day

Longhorn Game Day Team Reconstructs Student Experience

During the past few months, the Longhorn Game Day Team has reached out to students and staff in hopes of creating a more fluid and less stressful gameday experience for football games. The project began with a relatively simple issue: game days, while a highlight of the Texas student experience, could also be a taxing one due to long lines, lack of water and little cell service.

While the issues seemed straightforward, solutions to these problems became quite complex. Our team developed a variety of proposals to ease some of these game day issues as well as an informational site for students to gain further knowledge.

In the investigative stage of this project, a few factors became increasingly clear. First, there was a large amount of misinformation surrounding the stadium. Many students did not realize they could bring in sealed water bottles. On the flip side, we found anecdotal evidence that even police were confused about stadium policies, with one saying firearms were allowed. Second, there were many resources provided by the athletics department that would be useful to students, but were unfortunately difficult to locate.

Through these revelations, our team decided to develop the “Hook ‘Em Handbook”, a prototype website for specifically students where they were able to access information easily and succinctly in one location. It is hard to distribute information to students, but we hope that this easily googleable website will create a place that students naturally go to for information and updates.

While the “Hook ‘Em Handbook” will hopefully disseminate some of the confusion surrounding game days, there were also issues beyond student confusion we found were important to address. We narrowed these challenges down to five solutions including receiving a water bottle upon entrance to the game, creating a guest ticketing system, boosting cell phone service throughout games, creating a line tracker system, and making an established ticketing system for high volume games to avoid a stampede.

With these five solutions, we created a proposal that was presented to Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs Drew Martin. While we are not sure yet where this proposal will lead, we hope that it will have at least in some capacity a positive impact on game days to come.

Learn more about the project.

The Game Day Team

  • Bo Crawford
  • Graci Goldstein
  • Wyatt Smith
  • Hannah Williford
two text bubbles on pink background

Meet the Herd

Uncovering the Lost Art of the Human Condition

Meet the Herd aims to build a community within UT from staff, students, and alumni. Throughout the semester, our mission was clear: how can we connect people? We started by catering to transfer students because many of us are transfer students, but something felt off. COVID-19 created different realities for transfer students because, depending on when you became a Longhorn, you either experienced complete isolation having all your classes online or a hybrid school year where tensions of masks or no masks ran rampant. Reality hit the group when we realized having the transfer students would be impossible because we were bound to miss experiences and stories due to the chaotic time of the pandemic.

Like all the most influential innovations, our version of the cookie came when we switched to a podcast centered on a factor that was common ground for everyone: attending UT.

Everything should've come easy after this pivot, but the opposite was true. For weeks, we had no idea how to connect with a large population, but sometimes the answer is simply talking to another human being. After talking with our guests, an epiphany came to us. Sure, we can try to focus on an issue or demographic, but the common experience we all go through is the human condition.

At first glance, we have three random episodes that focus on different topics, but in actuality, we have three episodes dealing with issues we all experience, from feeling like an outsider to what life looks like after walking the stage. Through Meet the Herd, we were able to do something that is lost art in wanting to solve a problem. We were able to connect with UT by talking to the people who make up UT. While that sounds like a no-brainer, talking to people makes us so much more alike than not alike because we bleed the same color, burnt orange. 

Learn more about the project.

Meet the Herd Team

  • Ronald Hernandez
  • Tommie Hernandez
  • McKenna Lucas
  • Vicente Montalvo
  • Ilyanna Santos