Rapid Prototyping Exercise


This time, your client is real, and you will build a real application, not just write requirements. Actual users have volunteered to use your application, and are now awaiting it. Please behave both responsibly and professionally. Please be especially sensitive to the community of people you will be serving. Your obligations are both individual and collective.


Please call the recovering dependents patients. Refer to all staff as counselors. Finally, our primary contact is John E. Burns, PhD, but you can refer to him as John.


This assignment has several stages of deliverables:

  1. Requirements document, based on interviews.
  2. Functioning local prototype.
  3. Working application on site.
You will be graded on each stage, not just the final one.


People suffering from chemical dependency are sometimes fortunate to avail of treatment in rehabilitation centers. Unfortunately, treatment is only a precursor to, and in no way guarantees, the real goal, which is recovery. Therefore, rehabilitation programs need to monitor, evaluate, and encourage their patients on the road to recovery. This period after in-patient care is known as continuing care, aftercare, or (in Portuguese) pós-tratamento.

We will work with a series of centers currently operating in Brazil (or Brasil, as it is spelled in Portuguese). Our contact there is John Burns, an American who has been serving in various capacities (Peace Corps, etc.) in Brazil for several decades. John is now based in São Paulo.

About 25 years ago, John created Vila Serena, a network of centers around the country. Vila Serena has treated tens of thousands of patients during this time. One of these centers has kindly agreed to test our system with a group of recovering dependents. Meanwhile, John is also working to open a new center at a major São Paulo hospital, Samaritano. They too might use this system, if it proves successful.

The primary task for the system is to track patients through the recovery process. The patients will be asked to communicate various information about their activities, especially as related to the recovery plan created before they were discharged. The system's job is to automate the collection and collation of this information, to request information when necessary, to send encouraging responses when patients maintain their schedule, and to alert counselors when a patient is failing to meet their plan.

Of course, this is just what we believe is necessary based on preliminary conversations. Your task will be to refine these assumptions through conversations with John and potentially, over time, other counselors. Along the way, you should be identifying benchmarks and goals. This will enable you to evaluate the quality of your deployed system. (You can and should use a variety of factors, ranging from interviews and surveys to examination of system performance.) Your findings may necessitate one or more revisions of the system until it meets the needs of patients and counselors.


Adam Emrich and Hamzah Ansari, both graduate students in Brown's PRIME (Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship Engineering) program, conceived of this project and established contact with John Burns. Adam, Hamzah, and John have helped us scope out this project.