Software Design Studio

Pilot Project (2015-2017)

Projects and Activities

The SDS drew project ideas from Reed faculty and staff to benefit campus life, the student academic experience, and the larger community.  Projects were pursued primarily during summer break by teams of two to five SDS students.

While not every project results in a finished product, all were successful in helping SDS students explore software design from the user experience to the core processing engine with the tools and techniques of modern code development.  Data security, version control, external system integration, and other design topics were incorporated in the projects whenever possible.


  • Blop
    Blop -- the "Blotter Map" -- was built for the Reed Community Safety Office to increase transparency around Clery Act reporting. Originally conceived by Justine Wang '16, the project went on to become a first-class SDS endeavor supported by Wang, along with Chase Doretto, Revant Bagaria, and Laura Israel. Blop tied together a searchable incident report with a filterable map, allowing both Community Safety and members of the community to understand where incidents have happened around campus.
  • Lemur
    Each year, students in introductory biology labs taught by Departmental Associate Carey Booth used a web application to collect data for their experiments. Though the app went into production, it had shortcomings.  SDS students Ziyuan Zhong, Akrish Adhikari and Erin Howell built an enhanced version of the app with a variety of new features, including better error reporting and support for automating previously manual processes.
  • Strabo
    Started in 2015 by SDS students Haley Tilt ‘16 and Hank Gerba ‘16, development of the Strabo project was later upgraded by Rachel Kennelly, Ava Kamb, and Ben Black. Named for the ancient Greek geographer, Strabo was an explorable map that tied together points of interest with images and text metadata. This team made an online, self-guided tour of the Reed College canyon, complete with GPS locations.
  • Vrfy
    A contraction of "verify,” Vrfy is the grading package (still) used in introductory Computer Science courses. The software enables more than a hundred students taking the introduction to computer science to submit homework assignment programs to be tested automatically for validity.  Initially developed in 2015 by SDS students Isabella Jorissen ‘16 and Alex Grant ‘17, the project later focused on software maintenance and incremental improvements.  Alex Grant and many of the 2016 SDS students added to the project.
  • Kronos
    Kronos aimed to support Faculty Administrative Coordinators in the complex task of scheduling senior thesis oral exams.  Given the hundreds of orals that need to take place within one week and the risk of schedule conflicts for faculty thesis advisers (as well as second, third, and fourth readers), orals scheduling is often extremely challenging.  The Kronos package, co-developed by SDS students Alex Grant, Jiahui Wei and Helen Zhang, was intended to help address that challenge.
  • ReeDistribute
    ReeDistribute was conceived as a philanthropic, donation-based web app targeted at bridging the gap between Reed students in need (primarily low-SES students), and Reed students of means, making it simple for those who can to donate to those without. It aimed to promote a stronger culture of giving back by making a simple, highly accessible application that puts primary power in the hands of the receiving community.
  • NightBus
    The NightBus app aimed to improve access to the student-run, late night transportation group of the same name. It was intended to allow students to see the general status of the Night Bus, making ride planning a little easier. It also aimed to streamline the organization of the Night Bus group by allowing administrators to assign drivers to shifts and to see who is working on any given night.
  • Paneity
    Paneity was a website designed to enable students to get help with homework online. It was meant for people who didn’t have time to schedule individual tutoring or couldn’t attend drop in hours.


SDS students met with the SDS Coordinator on a twice-weekly basis (Tuesdays and Sundays) to learn about and discuss a wide range of  topics including software version control, object-oriented programming, the Linux terminal, relational databases, PostgreSQL, HTTP servers, (such as Flask), software testing, documentation development, and others.  In addition, SDS students participated in special events such as:

  • a  lecture by William Henderson (‘08) on Knock software and product design
  • a master Class from Jeremy Lawrence (‘12) on iOS Development
  • a round-table conversation with Luc Perkins about technical writing and documentation
  • a TechFayre of Portland technology companies sponsored by the Center for Life Beyond Reed
  • an end-of-summer Drone Day with SDS Advisory Council member Lennon Day-Reynolds ('03)