A Dauphin County family received an early holiday gift December 3 when four Penn State Harrisburg students unveiled a web site they created to help in the battle to cure a rare genetic neurological illness.
Brandon Albert, son of Londonderry Township residents Scott and Pam Albert, is afflicted with the same illness – MECP2 – which resulted in the death of his brother in 2006. Pam and friends had created a web site to share information on the disease with families around the world, but it was in need of an ambitious upgrading.
The prices quoted from web site designers were prohibitive, so Pam contacted Penn State Harrisburg hoping to find a lower-cost option. What she ended up with was the student-created site which was created at no cost.
Pam was referred to Assistant Professor of Information Systems Roderick Lee who located students in his IST 331 (Organization and Design of Information Systems) class who agreed to tackle the task of expanding the site. “The course does not mandate a formal web project; it only requires the development of prototype site,” Lee adds. “But students have the desire to do a more permanent project. They use it on their resumes. And many of the student assignments are based on working with community partners, developing a sense of civic responsibility.”
The team of Elliot McConnell, James Nolte, Kereem Nicholas, and Joseph Benoit introduced the new site during a special presentation. Following the unveiling, a grateful and tearful Pam termed the student team “heroes in the fight to find a cure for my son.”
Working with Pam, the students modified and improved the existing MECP2 pages enhanced with more visuals and ease of navigation. They adopted a top-down menu style featuring fewer links cluttering the main page and even installed a translator so persons not fluent in English can obtain a seamless conversion of the text to their own language.
Other student web projects profiled at the presentations in the Olmsted Auditorium Dec. 3 were: