This post was written by Newsha Amirihormozaki, a graduate student supporting development and enhancement of web applications at the Center for GIS. She is currently pursuing an M.S. in Applied Information Technology at Towson University.

As an AIT (Applied Information Technology) graduate student working at the Towson University Center for GIS (CGIS), I had the opportunity to help with the development of an engineering document search tool for the Maryland Port Administration (MPA). MPA has an archive of drawing sets associated with completed construction projects at their various Baltimore-area terminals. These hard copy and digital (.pdf) drawings contain information that is critical to ongoing MPA maintenance and planning activities, but to date there has not been an automated way to search the archive based on the information in the drawings. The tool that I developed is an easy-to-use interface that enables MPA staff to quickly perform searches on a drawing archive database using specific criteria and keywords. Search results are presented in a tabular format that includes paths to the drawing sets that match the search criteria. An insert feature enables certain users to add new data into the database.

Several technologies are incorporated into this tool. The database is Oracle 11. The API combines .NET framework 4.5, combined with an internally developed database framework to configure endpoints. Bootstrap allows the front-end to remain lightweight and to perform without additional libraries or code.

The whole process was a great learning experience for me and helped to link my classroom experience to professional practice. With oversight and feedback from my CGIS colleagues, I performed nearly all aspects of the development process, from database and front-end design, coding, testing and debugging, and this was very exciting. I gained valuable real-world development experience, learning amongst a talented team of smart, creative, and fun developers.

School is not the only place where you learn new things.

Some of the technologies used in this project such as C# and .NET were very new to me and I had no previous experience working with them. This was challenging at times, but I learned that working is learning and school is not the only place where you learn new things.