Pictured above, From l to r – Alex Grimaldo, Jessica Michael and Larenzle Coleman work on their project with The Exceptional Bean.

The two-semester project began in August of 2022

Cookeville – As graduation approaches at Tennessee Tech, the seniors in the management information systems analysis and design class in the College of Business have completed their capstone project with the Cookeville nonprofit coffee shop, The Exceptional Bean, which provides employment for people in the community with disabilities.

The two-semester project began in August 2022, after Seth Williams, lecturer in decision sciences and management, and Doc Wells, professor of decision sciences and management, decided to give their students one large class project.

It was a change from what was traditionally taught, which involved breaking the class up into smaller groups and giving each group their own small project.

“The whole premise of the project for the students was solving problems with technology,” said Williams.

After getting the blessing of the coffee shop owners, Michael and Cigi England, the class tackled the technological struggles of the new business. The class broke into three different teams – Systems, Networking and Development.

Over the course of the class, the students installed TVs to display menus, set up security cameras both inside and outside the building and set up the location where that video footage would be stored. They also digitized the order-taking process to simplify things for employees, as well as increasing the safety and speed of the shop’s internet connection. They also upgraded the website and added the ability to place online orders.

The students began the process in Aug. by collecting information on the problems, creating a plan and raising more than $4,000 to use on the planned improvements. The rest of the first semester was dedicated to ordering materials and installing the new systems. The spring semester kept the students hard at work testing their improvements, fixing any problems that popped up, and documenting everything so the owners of The Exceptional Bean had the technical information needed to continue upkeep of the new systems on their own once the class project was complete.

“I just wanted to say thank you to Michael and Cigi for letting us do this project,” said Bailey Hooper, who served as the student project manager for the venture. “And thank you to the whole class. We’re like a little family now. It’s been good to meet different people that you might not have formed a connection with if we did four separate projects.”

Michael England, who attended the final class presentation at Tech, expressed his gratefulness for their help.

“You guys are all definitely overachievers. I can’t identify with that when I was your age. I was not doing these sorts of things,” he laughed. “I’m so impressed by all of you. It’s been a pleasure to work with you all and it’s definitely improved the quality and the experience at our shop. You all knocked this out of the park.”

Photo courtesy of Tennessee Tech.

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