Thursday, October 30, 2014

Global International Engagement Program 2014

This summer, I worked alongside two other UMSI students on a website to connect human rights lawyers in India as part of the Global Information Engagement Program. GIEP connects graduate student teams with different partner organizations in India to develop a solution to an existing information related problem. The GIEP program counts as your PEP credit/summer internship. Other student projects included: creating an accessible website for the disabled and their community, creating data-drive performance metrics and tools to improve the quality of care in the "Be Well" hospitals, among several others.

The student teams learned about our project partners in November and started communicating with them via Skype and Google Hangout to better understand the nature of the problem. Since I am interested in UX Design and research, I was able to apply many of the skills and techniques I have been learning in class to this project: including interviewing, wireframing, prototyping, and user testing to gain user feedback and inform the design of the project.

Throughout the winter semester, we scoped the project, researched, and created wireframes and prototypes to prepare for our arrival in India. Once in India, we worked alongside our project partners to see first-hand how they work on a day to day basis.

Because our clients are human rights lawyers, we continuously saw them rush to the aid of others. We watched as they assisted slum dwellers as the city attempted to evict the residents as well as protected sex workers, victims of rape, and other marginalized citizens. Although these human rights lawyers do so much for others, they don't always have access to the resources they need. By creating this website to network human rights lawyers, they can now share resources, knowledge, and connect with human rights lawyers across the country. And by working side by side with our client, we were able to better understand the problem, get feedback, and conduct user testing with several human rights lawyers and the future administrators of the site to make the site more intuitive and user friendly.

When I first moved to Ann Arbor more than a year ago, I never imagined that I would live in India for two months, let alone work with an amazing project partner. If you are interested participating in the program, applications for the GIEP program are open until November 1st.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Funding and Scholarship Resources

While the start of the school year may feel like a long way off, you may already be thinking about how to fund your graduate school education -- and you should be!  All students who apply are considered for UMSI merit based scholarships, and those who apply by January 15 receive first consideration for these scholarships.  

There are also several external scholarships that you can apply for before admission.  Many of these scholarships have deadlines in November and December, so please check out our external scholarship spreadsheet for specific deadlines and requirements.  In addition, UMSI is often able to match funding awards from external scholarships.  Graduate school can be affordable, so please take a look at all of the funding resources detailed below.  

UMSI Scholarships
UMSI merit scholarships range from partial to full tuition coverage, with possible additional benefits, (regardless of residency status) for four semester of full-time MSI coursework.
UMSI also offers UMSI Achievement Fellowships.  We go through 3-4 rounds of UMSI Scholarship offers throughout the term. We hope to complete the first round in late February/early March. The second round will be in mid to late April, with a possible third round later in May.

The first round of UMSI Scholarships are entirely merit-based. Subsequent rounds will always have merit as the primary factor for consideration, but we will also look at your motivation to attend UMSI. These factors can be demonstrated by professional, consistent communication with us. You are welcome to submit an additional letter/email for the admissions committee's consideration. I've seen previous admissions committees look at your excitement about UMSI, your efforts in applying for external fellowships, anything particular about the nature of your need, the connections you make at MSI Visiting Days, the professionalism of your interactions, and other things for the subsequent rounds of UMSI Scholarship.

Merit is still the primary factor, and by merit we mean the strength of your statement of purpose and personal statement, your letters of recommendation, your internship/research/work experience, your academic record including your GRE, demonstration of leadership, service, comfort with ambiguity, etc. It is NOT just your GRE/GPA.

UMSI matching funds for external tuition awards
UMSI master's students who receive scholarships administered by external sources, such as associations, foundations, and corporations, are eligible to request matching funds from the School of Information.

UMSI students who receive an external scholarship prior to their first term of enrollment or through their first year (12 months) of enrollment are eligible for up to $10,000 in matching funds, depending on the award amount, the level of funding already awarded by UMSI, the remaining unmet need for cost of attendance, and the availability of funds remaining in the annual matching funds budget. Admitted students who receive an external award should submit the original award statement (keeping a copy for personal records) with a request for matching funds to

Funding Links

Scholarship Announcements
This spreadsheet of external scholarships will be continually updated throughout the winter and early spring.  Please check back for more opportunities, and we will continue to alert prospective students of these as we learn of them.  

Please note the University Library Associate scholarships (for students interested in working in academic libraries) and Bonk Assistantships (for students interested in special collections, digital preservation or archivesrequire a separate application, due January 15, 2015.

Videos from Connect with UMSI

Last week we held Connect with UMSI events for prospective students.  Check out videos of the presentations here.  You can view the Opening Session with Dean Jeff MacKie-Mason, videos about career development and service engagement, admissions and funding, and about our academic programs.  This can be a great way to get a taste of the content from the sessions.  Keep in touch with us if you'd like more information or to connect with a current student!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Busy Fall Break for UMSI Students

Photo from Joyce Sakata
Fall break means getting ready for midterms for most UMSI students, but it also gave some an opportunity to travel outside of Michigan to experience some great events. A few of our students made their way to the Grace Hopper Celebration in Phoenix, and 35 more made their way to the east coast for the annuual NY Innovation Trek.

Joyce and Michelle made their way to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women In Computing - it is known as the world's largest gathering of women technologists.

If you want a taste of the action at this year's conference you can check out the archived streaming sessions here

Photo from Natalie Yee
Our students also went on the NY Innovation Trek and pitched to famed innovative organizations like Twitter, TechStars and StartUp Health, Next Big Sound, New York Public Library, and JSTOR.

If you're interested in catching up on all the sights of the trip check out the UMSI twitter and Facebook and the hash tags ‪#‎umsinytrek‬ and ‪#‎umsiinnovate‬! If you have any questions about this trip or the entrepreneurship program at UMSI please ask!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Why I chose an iSchool

Hello! My name is Jola Bolaji and I am a first-year MSI student here at UMSI. I came here from sunny California for one reason – to attend an iSchool – specifically UMSI.

I started my undergraduate career as a hopeful computer science major. But I did not find that completely fulfilling. I was being taught a lot of coding—but that was about it. I wanted to add more to that. I took an elective course about social issues in computing and realized that was more to computers (and technology in general!) than coding. There are design issues. There are social issues. Technology is not just new software and smartphone apps. It can also be technology in third-world countries and Maker movements for children in schools.

So when I began looking at graduate programs, I was looking for diverse programs with a wide range of opportunities. UMSI’s mission – to “create and share knowledge so that people will use information – with technology – to build a better world” resonated with me. As I found out more about UMSI, I learned that there are so many opportunities to do just that here. The interdisciplinary curriculum at UMSI encompasses many classes taught by faculty from various backgrounds – user experience; web development; psychology; and information economics – just to name a few. UMSI goes beyond schooling in the classroom and encourages community outreach, entrepreneurship, extracurricular activities, and real-world experience.

An iSchool like UMSI is more than just computer science. An iSchool like UMSI is more than just library science. An iSchool is both of those things and much more. Here at UMSI we are truly the intersection of “people, information and technology.”

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Facebook group for prospective MSI students!

The Facebook group for prospective MSI students for fall 2015 is now live! To join visit:

The group is a great place to ask questions about admissions, the school, our programs, the city of Ann Arbor, and to share information with one another. You can engage with staff, current students, and other prospective MSI students to learn about the culture of the school and whether UMSI might be a good fit for you! We'll be sharing events and updates from campus to give you a look into the community here at UMSI. We hope you'll join the conversation!