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Students Create Online Registration System for America’s Oldest Fair

Students creating online registration system
Terry Lehr of the York Fair, standing far left, and Penn State York student Tony Bathgate, also standing, check out the registrations being entered into the new online system for the York Fair.
9/16/2009 —

Thanks to students at Penn State York, the York Fair now has an online system for registering entries for its many contests. The 245-year old fair has stepped into the 21st century by using the new system to register contest entries including everything from sheep, steers, and rabbits to zucchini bread, cherry pies, and muffins. The work was done as a project in the information sciences and technology integration and problem solving class (IST 440W) taught by Bill Cantor, instructor in information sciences and technology at Penn State York. Cantor likes to involve his students in projects with community organizations.

“The community projects have been a great success over the years,” said Cantor. “The students benefit by working with organizations that truly need help. The community organizations benefit by receiving high quality solutions at no cost and the students get exposed to the important work that occurs at these organizations. They get to meet and appreciate the people on the front lines. These projects help the community while showcasing the students’ abilities for potential employers.” he said.

In the spring, Cantor’s class took on the project with the goal of completing a new online management system for handling all fair contests, from the registration of participants to the printing of checks once the winners are selected. Sixteen students took part in the project and they worked closely with Terry Lehr, a member of the board of directors of the York Fair. Lehr met with the students throughout the semester, provided feedback, and answered questions. The class had to study the old process in order to develop the new one and worked closely with Lehr and others from the fair to be sure all the intricacies of the contests could be handled in the new system. Students had to create access points for different levels - administrators, assistants, etc., and also had to create all the forms including those for livestock, 4H, and others. Lehr couldn’t be happier with the new system and the work of the students.

“Whatever we asked of them they did,” said Lehr. “This has been a wonderful experience. The new system is streamlined, easy to access, and easy to use. Now people can enter the contests directly online. In the past, we had to enter everything. This system will save us time and money,” he said. Right now according to Lehr, about half the people are registering directly online and the others are completing paper forms and then people at the fair grounds are entering the information. He believes as people become more comfortable with the system the number of direct online registrations will grow. There have been more than 10,000 entries on the system.

Tony Bathgate, a senior at Penn State York who worked on the project throughout the semester, also had the task of fine tuning the system during an extended summer internship which continues until after the fair which runs Sept. 11 - . Bathgate had to be sure all the aspects of the system are in order and that the 9,846 contest categories are working. Bathgate along with other students in the group examined many categories and even learned some new vocabulary in the process, cavies are guinea pigs.

“Working at the internship has given me direct access to live feedback and has helped me learn to solve problems and deal with things as they happen,” said Bathgate. “It is a real experience in finding out what can go wrong and how to fix it. You don’t get that from a textbook.” Bathgate will continue gathering information and troubleshooting the system throughout fair week and share his findings for improvements with Cantor for next year.

Natalie Anthony, another Penn State York student. found the project interesting and was happy to see the work she did being used. “It is so easy to enter things and now that it is up and running it has really worked out better than we thought. It is nice to see it working and to be a part of the York Fair. It is really cool.” she said.

Cantor believes his students exceeded expectations on this project and Lehr and others at the York Fair agree. Cantor plans to continue to involve his students in community projects.

In addition to Anthony and Bathgate, the following Penn State York students took part in the project: Noah Althoff, Elodia Barajas, Adam Brinker, Joshua Graff, Nathan Hake, Carl Hoover, Frances Hopple, Nicole Lindt, Stewart McLean, Ryan Quinlivan, Brian Skeen, Kristine Stremmel, Brad Willcox, and Jeffrey Yost.

Penn State York offers a variety of programs to meet the needs of students of all ages and has earned the distinction of being named one of the University’s international campuses.  York offers the first two years of more than 160 Penn State majors, eight baccalaureate degrees, seven associate degrees, six minors, a master of education degree program in teaching and curriculum , and a variety of continuing education programs both credit and noncredit. The campus also offers programs for youth including summer camps and Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) preparation courses. In addition, the Pullo Family Performing Arts Center (The Pullo Center) at Penn State York, a state-of-the-art theatre facility, offers a variety of free and ticketed programs for the campus and community. Learn more about The Pullo Center at www.pullocenter.yk.psu.edu or call (717) 505-8900.

For more information about Penn State York please visit the Web site at www.yk.psu.edu or call the Penn State York Admissions Office at (717) 771-4040.

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