Brendan Michaelsen April 14, 2016

How Instajudge Has Changed the Game for Undergraduate Research @ Purdue University

Brendan Michaelsen

Each year, the Purdue Office of the Provost hosts the Purdue Undergraduate Research Symposium, a gathering of student researchers from Purdue’s academic colleges. Student teams create a poster showcasing their work and any innovations and breakthroughs made throughout the semester. Faculty volunteers walk the symposium floor, evaluating the teams on a variety of criteria – from content and research decisions to poster design. Up until last year, judges would use paper and pencil to fill out their evaluations, and the forms would be indexed and scores tallied by hand by event staff. This process was unfortunately tedious and prone to errors in student scores.

In the fall of 2015, Purdue brought PearCircuit on to completely reimagine the evaluation process for the Symposium. We dove in immediately to learn the process and specific judge pain points, and began development work on the Instajudge platform soon after. At its heart, Instajudge is an iPad app with a clean, easy-to-use interface for judges and a powerful admin dashboard for event staff. The platform allows the evaluation of hundreds of posters by dozens of judges concurrently on the same network through a parallel cloud architecture, while also providing real-time updates to event staff keeping track of scores.


Instajudge was tested for the first time as a complete platform on Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at the 2016 Purdue Undergraduate Research Symposium, which boasted more than 200 student teams and more than 100 faculty judges. The results of the event were a stunning success. Judging assignments were auto-populated, giving judges more time to listen to student presentations instead of wrestling with clipboards. Event staff had unprecedented control over the event, able to quickly spot issues with missing students and absent judges. When all the judges had completed their evaluations and the staff were usually preparing to shuffle through hundreds of sheets of paper to tally the scores – they simply sorted the results right from the Instajudge dashboard – taking only a fraction of the time and energy.

We’re very proud of the work that went into Instajudge and excited for Purdue’s plans to expand the platform for use at events all across their West Lafayette campus.

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