CSC News

October 28, 2003

Computer Science Students Aim to Alleviate Marketing Headaches

Computer science students at North Carolina State University and RedPelican, a Triangle-area provider of marketing communications process management applications, are tackling voids in the marketing automation industry.

A group of 50 computer science graduate students is developing software intended to help revolutionize the event-planning portion of the industry, while RedPelican is helping to ease the pain that marketing teams face in working with a broader range of project management issues.

Working within the framework of a virtual company, the eight teams of students are identifying problems faced by trade show planners, including the difficulty of matching unique exhibitor needs to existing exhibit hall space. Applying new algorithms, engineering practices and other skills, they are creating software that will streamline and simplify the processes used by exhibitors and show hosts in creating major events.

Dr. Thomas L. Honeycutt, associate professor of computer science, is looking to partner with companies interested in bringing real-world issues to this academic exercise.

“The economy, Internet and rapidly changing business practices are impacting the industry in new and sometimes unforeseen ways,” Honeycutt said. “Heightened competition on many fronts — from physical appearance of the exhibit space to all the logistical issues — make this a prime time to explore the problems in depth and develop workable solutions.”

The student teams — half located in Raleigh in the Department of Computer Science at NC State and the other half participating as graduate students in the Engineering Online master degree program — will pitch their software solutions to virtual venture capital representatives at the conclusion of the course. Honeycutt has a greater goal in mind, however. He hopes viable solutions will get into the hands of real venture capital firms and then to the industry pipeline.

“That’s the kind of real-world impact that we aim for when developing such learning experiences,” Honeycutt said. Chuck Grad, former adjunct instructor of computer science, is collaborating with Honeycutt in the development of the course.

"We know there is a strong need for the InFlight solution among marketing managers, and we fully support North Carolina State University's efforts in this area," Donald Fluken, CEO, RedPelican, said. "Marketers are seeking new solutions, like InFlight, that will help them better manage programs, and, as such, the concepts and ideas that the students are applying are highly relevant and will prove beneficial to these marketers."

— rzewnicki —

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