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OpenTAP in Education - U.C. Santa Cruz


This blog is the first in a series documenting the use of OpenTAP in educational settings. The two projects described here proceeded under the auspices of the University of California Santa Cruz School of Engineering, both sponsored by the OpenTAP team.

Baskin School of Engineering Projects

The U.C. Santa Cruz Baskin School of Engineering offers seniors (fourth year students) the opportunity to develop software and hardware projects, sponsored by tech companies in the Silicon Valley and beyond. Corporate Sponsors collaborate with faculty to define high-value senior design projects where students are engaged in meaningful interdisciplinary team-based learning.

Teams of 3-5 students work on a project for two quarters to fulfill their graduation requirements. Sponsor and faculty together plan projects to ensure that schedules and milestones are realistic and that the deliverables are useful and meaningful. Teams interact with sponsor to review project status and progress. Corporate sponsors can receive intellectual property rights to results developed by undergraduate students.

PSLab Integration with OpenTAP

PSLab is an open source hardware board created by OpnTec and FOSSASIA that offers users a cheap, portable way to perform electronics testing. U.C.S.C. students Ivan Diep and Alexander Kostinin built their own OpenTAP plugin for accessing the onboard instruments available in the PSLab API, and created a test plan with 23 test steps to interact with the instruments. The plugin also enabled teaching students electrical engineering test and measurement concepts and building other plugins for OpenTAP.

The students also built a course around this PSLab integration to engage new users and share their experience with future generations of engineering students.

Student project poster
Alexander Kostinin and Ivan Diep

After graduation, both students found ways to build on their experience with this project. Today, Alex works as a software developer at Epic Systems and Ivan was recruited by project sponsor Keysight Technologies, where he is an R&D software engineer.

Project Wonderwall

The purpose of Project Wonderwall was to highlight the health and vibrance of the OpenTAP project to the OpenTAP community and third parties, through interactive visualization and machine learning analytics. Using the data gathered across the OpenTAP lifecycle, Wonderwall tells the story of the OpenTAP community using data science. Oasys Okubo, project lead, believed that "data means nothing if there is no narrative to help influence future decisions".

Project Wonderwall proceeded in three phases:

  1. Data Collection and Dashboard Development

    Data collection involved collecting raw data sets from different sources, including Mailchimp, YouTube, Google Analytics, Discourse, GitLab, and the OpenTAP package repository, all key sources used by the OpenTAP community. It was the the most time-consuming and the most important component of the project. The goal of this phase was to make the data pipeline and visualization as easy as possible. For dashboard development, it was also important to arrive at useful visualizations and to determine which visualizations would best describe the progress of the OpenTAP project and community.

  2. Narrative Development

    This portion of the project focused on explaining the data to ease understanding of OpenTAP project activity. Up to 70% of data science is cleansing the data, with the rest spent on making it presentable, mostly with visualizations. Explaining each visualization offers the OpenTAP community a narrative, and telling a story creates a bond between the data and the community members.

  3. Analytics

    Capturing and analyzing collected data supports making better decisions, faster and more efficiently, helps identify opportunities, and allows project staff to adopt best practices and focus on issues that matter, to expand the benefits of OpenTAP and benefit the software industry as a whole.

Wonderwall Dashboards

Oasys graduated in 2021 and today works as a software engineer at JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Learn more about Project Wonderwall.

Looking forward

In future blogs, we'll feature other projects from other academic institutions. If you have a story to tell about OpenTAP in education, reach out to our team via email at