Chandler honors student overcomes ASU closure - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler honors student overcomes ASU closure

April 27th, 2020 development
Chandler honors student overcomes ASU closure

By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

The COVID-19 crisis hasn’t stopped one Chandler college student from wrapping up his final research projects for the semester.

Pratik Nyaupane, a senior studying informatics at Arizona State University, was among 72 students of the university’s Baerrett, The Honors College who had to recently present their final projects virtually.

Hundreds of people traditionally come out to attend the college’s annual senior symposium – but the campus’ closure made the popular event impossible to host this year.

But instead of outright canceling the celebration, ASU put together another format for students to showcase projects they need to complete in order to earn their diplomas with honors.

Rather than have students collectively display their work in-person with poster boards and dioramas, the Honors College allowed projects to be submitted digitally and students conducted video interviews with evaluators over Zoom. Summaries of all the projects were compiled into a video and posted on the college’s YouTube account.

Nyaupane, a graduate of BASIS Chandler, presented his findings on research related to how young people feel about data privacy.

The 21-year-old was curious to discover how much information young internet users were willing to sacrifice in order to keep utilizing free websites like YouTube or Facebook.

Nyaupane and fellow student Stephanie Gerhart spent this last year conducting focus groups and collected enough testimonial data to suggest many consumers behave apathetically about their digital privacy.   

“Although people say they care about data privacy, they don’t necessarily act on it,” Nyaupane said.

The project further concluded there may be a knowledge gap regarding how much young people understand the way their information can be exploited online. 

Many subjects were surprised to learn how their data was being collected and used by various institutions, Nyaupane added, and expressed concern over their ignorance.

Much more research needs to be done on this subject, he added, since the digital landscape keeps evolving and not everybody seems to know how to safely navigate it.

The Honors College’s senior symposium is considered the most important academic event of the year, according to Nicola Foote, the college’s vice dean.

So, it was vital for ASU to find an alternative platform that allowed students like Nyaupane to still present their work, she said.

“Having this showcase and academic celebration is always important, but I think even more so this year, when we are all facing so much disruption and so many challenges,” Foote said. “Moving the Celebrating Honors Symposium online allows us to continue and reinvent a cherished Barrett tradition.”

While the public health crisis has been obstructing academic institutions, Nyaupane said he managed to get most of his research work done before Arizona started shutting down schools and public places last month.

His symposium research was only one of several projects that he has been working on during his last semester at ASU.

He also wrote a thesis paper on how migrant laborers in Qatar can fall victim to powerful institutions. Local media reports suggest laborers from nearby countries have endured abuse in recent years while building new infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup soccer tournament.

Nyaupane said he has long had a passion for soccer and politics and thought this conflict in Qatar could provide the perfect case study that encapsulated his many interests.

He traveled to Nepal and interviewed migrant workers who had gone to Qatar seeking jobs in the industries working to put on the upcoming tournament.

Poor labor conditions have resulted in several human-rights abuses, Nyaupane noted, and there’s few opportunities for laborers to hold any of the companies accountable.

The whole situation in Qatar is incredibly complex, Nyaupane added, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear solution for fixing it.

“Given the power dynamic of how much money is within the World Cup,” he said, “this will kind of continue to happen.”

After graduation, Nyaupane said he plans to enroll in graduate school and continue researching issues related to technology and data.

There are several ways information can be mishandled, he said, but he’s on a mission to discover how collecting large swaths of data can also benefit society.

“There’s a great mystery to that of what really is data and what can be used with it,” he said.

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