Database Contains More than a Million Records
Project Orion to Organize Sprawling List of Names for Centralized Use
May 5, 2008
Current students, past students, library patrons, existing faculty or former staffer, living or deceased, it makes no difference: If you’ve touched UT Dallas in some way, chances are you’ll be included in Project Orion’s Campus Community, or biographic/demographic, database.
In fact, if you think of Project Orion as a wheel, the bio/demo module is the axle, and the spokes are things like enrollment services, financial aid and student records.
The bio/demo component will eventually encompass more than 1 million records of any and every individual who has ever used campus services. Things like names, physical and e-mail addresses, phone numbers, citizenship status, emergency contacts, identification numbers, marital status, gender, name variations and an individual’s birth information are just a few of the identifying details that will be included in the database.
Biographical information is currently housed in the University’s Student Information System (SIS), but that database is aging and eventually will be phased out.
“Transferring these details is one of the most important things we’ll do in the entire conversion to Orion,” said Alison Rackler, an enrollment services processor at the University and Orion team member. “That’s because this data is UT Dallas, literally — our students, faculty and staff, past and present. It’s even more important that we make sure all the records fall into the right slots within our new system.”
Biographic work doesn’t end with the transfer from SIS to Orion, either. After the conversion takes place, all the data has to be verified and validated, and developers must ensure that all the details were mapped accurately and were properly migrated into the correct tables and fields. That’s where a team made up of representatives from departments like the registrar’s office, financial aid, the bursar’s office and admissions comes in: They physically check sample groups of information for accuracy.
So far, teams have checked and rechecked the records of about 300 individuals. Each error the teams find must be programmatically corrected and re-reviewed. Though they can’t evaluate every single piece of data in each of the thousands of records currently in UT Dallas’ system, they are confident the sample group is a comprehensive representation of the entire University community and that they can remove the majority of kinks before all the records are transferred into Orion.
“The sample system of 300 works because we’ve identified similar groups of people,” Rackler explained. “For instance, we’ve checked a cross-section of undergraduate students, international students, graduate students, faculty and staff records and so on. Checks in each of those areas help us identify things that may not have properly relocated into the new system.”
The bio/demo transfer and validation process will continue for about the next 18 months, until the transition to Orion is complete.
About Project Orion
Orion is a Web-based information portal that will one day manage virtually every aspect of a student’s academic career, from registering for classes to paying parking fines, to applying for graduation. Orion operates on the PeopleSoft Campus Solutions platform, a comprehensive suite of software that gives users real-time information. When completed, Orion will serve nearly every consumer of University data, including students, faculty and staff. For more information about Orion, please visit the project Web site at www.utdallas.edu/orion.
More information about Project Orion is available at www.utdallas.edu/orion.