Gemstone Honors Program

Class of 2000 Teams

Agile Manufacturing

The Agile Manufacturing Research Group spend four years exploring different types of manufacturing methods that help companies easily respond to rapidly changing consumer demands. We began exploring general concepts and principles, and decided to apply these principles in a case study. We presented our proposal for research at the Artificial Intelligence and Manufacturing Research Planning Workshop in Albuquerque, New Mexico. During the remaining two years, we continued to develop our ideas and applied them to a case study on the Human Powered Vehicle. This case study proved to be quite educational because of the intimate knowledge that several group members have about the vehicle. While further works needs to be completed, the project resulted in a framework for a production system to produce the Human Powered Vehicle that incorporates the principles of agility.

Extra-Terrestrial Technologies, Inc. (An Enterprise of the University of Maryland Gemstone Space Team)

The Space Team concluded its four years of research by defending a proposal to provide propellants in space. ETTech, the company envisioned by the group, would develop an automated fuel manufacturing and supply system that would service the Moon, Mars, Earth, and orbits in between. The team’s research shows that providing fuel in this manner would reduce launch costs for others while providing ETTech profit. To meet the fuel needs of NASA and other deep space exploration customers, ETTech would coordinate a consortium with international government and corporate membership. In addition to the Gemstone Program’s Team Thesis Conference, the members of the group also had the opportunity to present its findings to NASA officials. As a participant in the NASA Means Business competition, the team traveled to Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. There, they were able to present to and exchange ideas with other schools and representatives of the industry in addition to the distinguished NASA officials. Since the team is comprised of students with majors ranging from engineering and computer science to business and social sciences, the well roundedness of this research was assured from day one.

The Future of Emergency Telemedicine: Telepresence at an Accident Site

The future of Emergency Telemedicine team explored the application of telemedicine—the delivery of medical services at a distance—to improve medical outcomes by providing physicians with telepresence at an accident site. The proposed system, “DigiDoc,” is a device worn by an emergency medical technician or paramedic that can allow remote physicians to achieve telepresence, transmitting medical information such as vital statistics and a visual scene from a head-mounted camera. Two-way audio communication is provided to support collaboration between physicians and on-site personnel for triage, diagnoses, and treatment decisions. A survey of Maryland emergency medical technicians was conducted to explore prospective individual responses to the proposed DigiDoc device. Additionally, financial viability was addressed through a business plan, indicating that profitability can be achieved within five years by outsourcing production. Finally, present legal and regulatory issues, such as licensure, the protection of patient information, and common carrier liability, were identified. The team was the only student group invited by the American Medical Informatics Association to present a poster at their 1999 Annual Symposium.

Genetic Testing: Balancing the Conflicting Interests from a Stakeholder Perspective

The Genetic Testing Team did not begin its research in public policy. The team started its term with Gemstone with the idea of developing an at-home genetic testing kit. In order to satisfy the varied interests of the team members, an additional project was initiated to examine the societal implications of genetic testing. When we determined that the at-home test technology was out of the scope of the group’s abilities, the focus became the societal examination of genetic testing. Once the existing literature and laws were examined, we noticed a deficient regulation of genetic testing and its applications and decided to create a set of public policy recommendations to rectify this. To determine the policy, we interviewed experts from many countries on several topics relevant to a genetic policy. We compiled our research into a stakeholder analysis to determine the primary groups affected by genetic testing and their interests. We then highlighted the conflicts between groups and used our data to determine the best compromises. These “compromises” are the basis of our final product: a set of genetic testing policy recommendations.

Nutrient Management in the Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay is a valuable social, economic, and ecological resource. In recent years, excess nutrients have decreased the productivity of this water body. Best Management Practices (BMPs) are the key to decreasing the amount of nutrients running off agricultural pastures and croplands, but are not yet widely implemented. Through our research, we have developed a proposal to provide incentive for farmers to employ BMPs via a tradable discharge permitting program and an environmental labeling plan for the poultry industry. In the first year of our research, we produced a general overview of the problems facing the Chesapeake Bay. From this broad foundation, we were able to focus our research on the greatest threat to the Bay, nutrient pollution. With this focus, we continued our research into the potential for technological remediation through the analysis of BMPs. An assessment of the political history and potential policy options for the watershed led us into our final semester of work: the formulation of our recommendations. To deepen our understanding of the problem, we took skipjack cruise on St. Mary’s River, a tour of the Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Facility, and set up presentations by important researchers in the field. Team members presented our findings at the 2000 Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Antonio, TX. On June 1, 2000, the team will present our policy proposals for the state to representatives of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce.

e-Commerce Security and Privacy

The e-Commerce Security and Privacy team’s final product was a reflection of our ability to synthesize our talents and diligence. Our report is intended for small business owners interested in going online. To best address their security and privacy concerns, we decided to establish our own virtual business presence. We divided into three disparate sub-groups to examine the management, security, and legal issues associated with our thriving business. The electronic commerce industry displays rapid growth and innovation, and to maintain the relevancy of our project we had to meet constantly to appraise any notable changes while eating healthy doses of pizza. We gave an initial presentation in Denton Hall in front of a few interested college students, and from there we refined our material and research, harboring dreams of grandeur and prosperity that a book publication could potentially deliver. We disavowed the use of outlines and minimized the procrastination that had plagued our productivity. Finally in April we surfaced at the Gemstone Panel and delivered our report to an awestruck audience comprised of entrepreneurs, computer security experts, and a couple other random people. Our group hopes to be honored as the consummate Gemstone team, but a check for twenty bucks will also suffice.

Mass Transportation and Integrated Information Technology

Following broad-based research of transportation systems across the Northeast Corridor, the Gemstone Transportation Group (GTG) identified several common problems to all mass transportation systems, and then focused on the problem of low bus ridership. To address the problem, GTG examined the benefits of using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) combined with Internet-based information dissemination. We designed a system to track the bus fleet, and display this to an information savvy public via the Internet. Our hypothesis is that real-time knowledge of bus location and destination prediction will increase public confidence and therefore bus ridership. Using a campus-wide survey to support the hypothesis, GTG implemented a case study of this system. After installing GPS units on the top four commuter routes of the University’s bus system, GTG implemented a real-time bus tracking web page, and succeeded in setting up the bus tracking system much less expensively than comparable projects. The full system will be operated for the campus community soon. GTG believes that this research and case study show how Information Technology can be used to improve Mass Transportation.