Mithran Mohanraj is a junior at George Mason University and a member of the Karsun Innovation Center 2023 Intern Class. As part of his internship, Mithran took on the challenge of developing a prototype application that addresses a hypothetical problem faced by a government agency. In addition to completing this prototype designed to drive engagement with the National Parks Service, he explored mobile app development with enhancements to the Karsun employee app, Konnect. Learn how Mithran connected with the Innovation Center team and deepened his UI/UX practice in this short interview.
First please tell us about yourself. Where are you going to school? What are you studying? What do you like to do in your free time?
I am studying Computer Science at George Mason University in my Junior year. In my free time, I like to develop games, exercise at the gym, go for jogs outside, and read books.
Could you share a little bit about the project you worked on as part of this internship? What challenge does it solve? What technologies and tools are you using?
So far in the internship, I have worked on an AppSheet app that was supposed to solve a problem the federal government faces. I made an app that could increase revenue and engagement with the National Parks Service. After finishing that app, I worked on creating a mobile version of the Karsun Konnect web page using AppSheet. This app also receives push notifications from multiple sources including the Brown Bag and Dojos app. It also receives notifications for company-wide announcements. I am also working on an expense request app for HR to use in AppSheet.
What is your favorite part about working with the Karsun Innovation Center? Is there a weekly meeting or ritual you enjoy? The opportunity to learn more or get a new certification?
My favorite part about working at the Karsun Innovation Center is the people. I really enjoy working with everyone and collaborating to create something useful. I also enjoy the opportunity I have been given to learn UI/UX design. It is one of my longtime interests and I am grateful I have an opportunity to learn it professionally.
What is your biggest takeaway from your experience as an intern at Karsun?
My biggest takeaway is that working in a professional environment is an incredibly enriching and rewarding experience. It is very different from school and I feel like I am learning a lot of practical skills that will help me in the future.
Mithran’s internship supported work performed by the Karsun Innovation Center. Learn how the Research and Development teams in the center prototype solutions, research emerging technologies and enhance the employee experience at Karsun. Connect with Mithran on LinkedIn to learn more about his time at Karsun.
Every day over 21,000 people use U.S. government websites. Given this, incorporating the needs of millions of users while modernizing on a large scale can be daunting. Karsun Solutions President Terry Miller joins John Gilroy and the Federal Tech Podcast to share how a product mindset combined with Karsun’s Digital Transformation toolkits enable agencies to meet their mission while meeting the expectations of its users.
The Product Mindset
In the interview, Miller describes how legacy application modernization can get bogged down by a focus on adding functionality over a focus on the product as a whole. He notes by taking a product mindset, technology teams instead consider the purpose of the product and what it is supposed to do for its users. This goes beyond adding features or modernizing to meet new requirements. Instead, product mindset oriented modernization considers the long-term vision for the product. It involves stakeholders from the beginning to ensure their vision is part of the collective vision. This includes adopting feedback loops, like those used in human centered design, to ensure consistent input from the beginning.
Toolkits Accelerate Transformation
Miller explained the second part of Karsun’s approach to design at scale is its Digital Transformation Toolkits. These resources and playbooks accelerate transformation as Karsun begins its modernization process. For example, the Digital Transformation Design Toolkit uses a system of 40 different components enabling our developers to quickly create U.S. Web Design System (USWDS) standards compliant interfaces. This allows rapid interaction from prototype to production while engaging the frequent feedback cycle needed for product mindset development. Miller mentions Karsun’s new Design for Every Next whitepaper dives deeper into this relationship. Produced by the Karsun Innovation Center, the paper examines user experience throughout the modernization process.
The podcast is out now. Tune in to the Federal Tech Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or at https://www.theoakmontgroupllc.com/ep-73-how-to-build-federal-systems-for-scale-and-resilience/.
Over 21,000 people visit U.S. government websites each day. The annual paperwork burden for executive departments and agencies exceeds 9 billion hours. Adopting next-generation user experience practices can address these challenges. By considering the needs of all stakeholders, designing for scale can improve the user experience, reducing paperwork and empowering agencies to meet their mission no matter the changing digital landscape.
In 2021, the Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government called on agencies to improve government performance while using proven best practices such as human centered design and service delivery models. We must embed the user experience in the process to meet these requirements as early as possible. It compels us to take a long view. We should take a product oriented mindset that asks not how we can introduce a particular feature or functionality but how the product itself will be used past the completion of a modernization project.
We have applied this approach to modernization projects for our customers in the acquisitions, aviation, and grants management industries. Aligning to industry standards, some of our applications see more than 1 million registered users. Using repeatable processes, we enable User Experience/User Interface (UI/UX) on a massive scale as we modernize complex systems for our agency customers. We collect our best practices, resources, and components into toolkits used by our teams. Now we have assembled our insights into a white paper from our Karsun Innovation Center.
Our new Design for Every Next white paper takes you step by step through this process. From building your data capabilities to effectively analyzing stakeholder needs to creating effective feedback loops. We also share best practices and strategies for leveraging emerging technologies to implement new enhancements quickly. We also share our component-based approach to rapidly iterating and prototyping interfaces. Part of our Digital Transformation Toolkits, our Design Toolkit ensures teams have the resources and expertise to accelerate transformation with a comprehensive view of stakeholder needs and wants. Download the white paper at https://karsun-llc.com/resource/design-for-every-next-2/.