Role: Junior Web Developer
Timeline: Summer 2017
Location: Hamilton, ON ⛰
This job I found interesting as it involved working more with newer web technologies and provided more experimentation work than my previous position. The SSC (Student Success Centre) focused on building projects meant to help McMaster students with their academic and professional success. This was a nice way to give back to the community and work on more proof-of-concept experimental work.
What I did
My responsibilities mainly involved working on a proof-of-concept risk assessment app for student-led events. The idea was for automating risk assessment forms in order to reduce wait times that could last for as long as 2 weeks. By automating this, we could potentially reduce the wait times to at least the same day the form was submitted. Using Vue.js and Laravel, I coded a decision tree for risk assessment and implemented it on a web app. The risk assessment decision was based on factors such as event location, number of participants, event length, and expected activities.
- Proof-of-concept app could potentially reduce wait times from 2 weeks to 1 day
- Successfully automated most tasks to reduce the amount of manual human work needed for risk assessments
What I learned
Vue.js and Laravel
More web development!
While the risk assessment app was able to work as intended, it ultimately was not put into full-scale use. This is mainly due to the difficulty of automating risk assessment for events. Events often vary in scope and in potential risk. Some events for example might require students to sleep over for a 24h period (such as for a hackathon) and requires knowledge of building fire codes for approval. As a result, it was tough to automate risk assessment for events that featured complex activities. While most events were mainly talks or large gatherings, some events may include heavy equipment and security personnel.
At this point, a human would need to come in to better determine the risk for more complex events. However, a problem that emerged was for validating the event with what was written on the event risk form. It was essentially an honour system that trusted the form submitter was not lying or omitting important information to avoid revealing the event posed too high of a risk. This ultimately is what kept the app from moving on past a proof-of-concept stage. Careful auditing of event risk still needed human intervention. Regardless, working on this project taught me how to use more modern web development tools and in requirements gathering.