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Computer From Students Advising Co-op part3of6



Friday, March 10, 1995

ere’s a riddle: bankers re fer to me as an ATM, auto makers use me to control anti-lock braking systems, and at the University of Waterloo, I have recently entered the hallowed halls of the co-op department. The pcopie there call mc ACCESS. What am I? ‘The answer is, the new Co-op on-line ACCESS system. The idea for an on-line access system originated back in 1988. At that time, the co-op department considered the on-line access system to be part of a much larger project. At the end of 1989, a design document for the larger project was produced. This document outlined the computing needs of the co-op department for the upcoming years. It included a full rcplaccmcnt of the department’s hardware and software systems. On the hardware side, the TBM mainframe running VMICMS would be abandoned in f&our of a UNIX platform. On the software side, a new information system would be crc-

ACCESS comes to Chop

ated. This system would be a combination of both new and existing software. It would provide details on such things as students’ academic and work term histories, the jobs to which they’ve applied, record employer information such as contact names, current and previous job requirements, job posting and interview dates. This information system would serve as the data engine for other software systems, such as the intcrvicw scheduling systern, the offer system, an on-line access system for students, and other systcms for coordinators and other Co-op employees. In 1989 and 1990 the information system and most of the other systems were developcd. At the beginning of 199 1, this initial version was rclcascd intcmally and tested within the co-op department. At this point, a thorough evaluation of the system took place. Bugs were found and enhancements suggested. Unfortunately, version one of the svstcm had some unexpected pro bLms, including data &m-up-

tion and a number of logical errors. As a result of these shortcomings, a second version was produced. As the second version approachcd completion late in 1992, the co-op department considered changing the placement process. Some members of the co-op de-

At the end of 1993, co-op made a final decision not to proceed with continuous placement. As a result, some of the software developments designed for continous placement were no longer needed. Others were incorporated into the current noncontinuous system. The end rcsuit of continuous placement was a one year delay in the systems development process. By the beginning of 1994, the information system was complete. Other

The on-line system allows students to view job postings, cheek

job offers, and to perform custom queries. partment wanted to do away with ranking forms and to rely on a continuous placement process to match students withemployers. The co-op department spent a full year investigating continuous placemerit. Throughout 1993, students and employers were told to expect continuous pIacement and the newly develoDed information system was I mod&d accordingly.

were also complete. this out of the way,

With co-op

began working ontheon-

line access system for students. System requirements were drawn up by the co-op department and given to an internal data processing group in the MC building. Dave Thomas of the co-op department served as co-op’s link to this data processing group. He was responsible for overseeing personnel and evaluating the project at various stages of its development. In total, the project involved the efforts of about a dozen employees including programmers, network technicians and the input of a few co-op students. It was originally expected that the student on-line system would take four to five months to complete. Unfortunately, it ended up taking a full ten months to get the job done. The main reasons for the delay included security considerations, the creation ofapproximately 6000 student accounts, and the need

to learn a new programming language. The on-line system allows students to view job postings, check interview schedules and job offers and to perf;Drm custom queries. As with all large software packages, there are still a few bugs in the system. However it is anticipated that these errors will be eliminated in theupcomingmonths. Additional features amd program enhancements will also be added in the future. Eventually, co-opwould like to reach the point where students can apply to jobs directly on-line without having to fill drop boxes withprinted copies oftheirresumes. If you’ve already given the system a whirl, then Dave Thomas wants to hear from you! The current system is only a work in progress. It will continue to expand and improve over the upcoming years. If you have any ideas for improving the system, let Dave Thomas or Students Advising Coop know what you think. Let us know what you like and what you don’t like, what features should be added and what features should be changed. For more information on how to use the on-line system, there is a pamphlet available in the Career Kesource Centre, as well as a posting on UWInfo and on the co-op department’s home page in Mosaic. Dave Thomas can be reached through e-mail at dthomas@nh 1adm. You can contact SAC by e-mail at sac@undergrad.mathor leave comments in the Dear Co-op box on the wail beside the pit in Needles Hall.

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