Senior's Thesis Blends Art, Technology

By Ellen Glover

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Katie Flegenheimer, CEWiT's graphic design intern who is pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, had her senior thesis displayed in the Grunwald Gallery last month. 

For her project, she prepared a mock-up for a website she created called “PreParis,” an interactive site that allows its users to customize a trip to Paris with the help of the site’s suggestions. Users can choose a few things they care most about for their vacation, such as food, nightlife, sights, the site suggests the places in Paris that fit the users’ preferences and provides reviews. 

“It sort of functions like online shopping,” says Flegenheimer. “You can click on the different options and save them for later. You can filter through the options and for the places that may be a little more expensive, it shows you the cost-effectiveness of each place.”

Once the user has chosen all of the restaurants and tourist locations they would like to visit, the site creates an itinerary according to the location of each destination, grouping places that are closer together to be done on the same day for convenience. This itinerary can be rearranged and customized as well.

Click below to view a video of Katie at her Senior Thesis Exhibition.
(Video created by CEWiT intern Hayden Duncan.)

Flegenheimer’s love for travel, coupled with her having studied abroad in Paris, inspired her to create the concept or “PreParis.”

“I’ve always been interested in travel and expanding it to more people,” said Flegenheimer. “I feel like a lot of people don’t travel because they think it’s too expensive or not possible. I wanted to make travel more accessible to people and help plan a trip that works for them.”

Although she hopes to one day actually develop her “PreParis” mockup into a functioning website, Flegenheimer says she doesn’t have enough technical web development skills like coding right now. She also thinks the project would be big enough that she would need a team of people working on research and development. However, Flegenheimer says working on this project allowed her to flex her web design and user experience muscles to create a mock-up that looked good and portrayed a functionality viewers would like.

Flegenheimer’s talents in graphic design stem from her childhood love of creating art. From the time she was a child and into high school, she loved to paint and draw and create art.

"I’m not your typical creative type, though,” says Flegenheimer. "I’m not as free spirited as some artists. I like academics and structure."

So, when she began her college search, Flegenheimer went to her art teacher for advice, who suggested she go into graphic design and pointed to the program here at IU.

"I looked at IU and I loved it, said Flegenheimer. What I like most about graphic design is that I can try an fail a lot and, because its digital, I can experiment with colors and types. I don’t have to worry about having to start over by making one wrong brushstroke."

Now, Flegenheimer will be graduating with a B.F.A and a minor in marketing in May. After graduation, she is set to become an Orr Fellow, a fellowship program that focuses on entrepreneurship and professional development. Although she is excited to begin her new career, she says she will never forget the things she learned here at IU and in CEWiT, where she gained a lot of experience in branding and content and promotions using graphic design and social media.

"I liked designing for a cause," says Flegenheimer. "I knew the gap between men and women in tech existed but I didn’t understand the scope of it until I worked here. In many ways, I am a woman in tech, so I loved supporting a cause I was interested in."