The University of California, Davis is a world-class research institution, with over 50% of students working on personal or research projects each year! Out of these students, nearly 38% of undergraduate students collaborate directly with faculty or staff through a research lab or project on campus at some point during their college career. With such outstanding numbers of students interested in pursuing educational research projects and an ever-growing number of undergraduates each year, students need an efficient way to sort through labs and to determine which faculty members conduct research that most closely aligns with their interests.
What it does
LabMatch is a web app that allows students to register and provide some basic details about their academic interests, including major, graduation year, relevant coursework, and research department of interest. Then, LabMatch compares a student's profile with registered UC Davis researchers or faculty members to determine which labs best fit the student's academic background. Finally, upon login, the student is presented with the research labs that their profile matched with in absolutely seamless fashion.
LabMatch provides a simple, yet elegant solution for students to connect with faculty members on campus that conduct research that is relevant to the student's interest, but also allow the researchers to receive targeted inquiries from students who would actually be a good fit for their lab, rather than the mass email attack that research faculty typically handle.
How we built it
The tech stack we used for this web app was Mongo, Express, React and Nodejs. MongoDB was used to store all of our user and user session data. Express was used for routing server request and react was used to render the UI for the web app. We used HTTP requests (POST and GET) to create and retrieve user information.
On the matches page, we compared the students credentials to each of the professors’ requirements and assigned each pairing a score out of 40. If the pairing had a score that was higher than the 75% threshold (30 points), we considered it a successful match and displayed the professor’s contact information and lab description to the student.
Challenges we ran into
We had some trouble integrating each component of the stack together, especially react with bootstrap. We also had some issues trying to deploy our app to google cloud platform.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are extremely proud of our finished product, LabMatch, and all of the effort that we have put in the past 24 hours. We have successfully been able to do the following:
-Build a well functioning login system where access tokens are stored locally, so a user does not have to keep logging in if they did not log out on the same machine -Create and retrieve user information to the cloud database -Build a well functioning matching algorithm that takes into account multiple factors while matching students and professors -Build a visually pleasing UI that makes our web app more appealing
What we learned
Through this project, we learned how to do the following:
-Build a well functioning full stack application -Create and retrieve information from databases -Query databases and parse responses from databases -Build a multiple page react application
What's next for LabMatch
Although we are very proud of our final product for this event, we definitely have some ideas regarding future improvements for LabMatch. For the next iteration, we would like to implement a file submission section to the Student Profile to allow students to submit samples of their past research projects, presentation posters, a resumes, statements of research interests, and/or academic transcripts. These file submissions would allow research faculty to better assess the quality of candidates and allow LabMatch to filter students by courses from their transcript rather than the text inputs from the register page.
Also, since research is a field that connects individuals all over the world through the spread of knowledge, LabMatch will allow students and research faculty to register from other schools and research institutions all over the world.