Jayanth Prathipati


Helping prospective CMU students make educated decisions about their futures


Project Overview

This project is a web service design solution that services the gap between college admittance and college acceptance. There are currently little to no resources available for masters and PhD students in comparison to undergraduates. We created a friendly chatbot that can help guide admitted students


Skills: Journey Mapping, Prototyping, Competitive Analysis, Screen Mockups, Reframing, Persona & Scenario Generation
Tools: Sketch, Invision


We created ScottyChat, a crowd sourced chatbot that lets you interact with Scotty the Dog, the CMU Mascot. Scotty helps admitted students connect with an alumni mentor in your location and profession. Scotty gives students $10 to buy their mentors a coffee. In addition, Scotty will answer general questions about CMU and the MHCI program through the use of Machine Learning. It will funnel more complex or challenging questions to the current MHCI cohort. This saves time for the current cohort so that they don’t answer the same questions over and over again.

Initial Research

First, we interviewed 4 Masters students about their experiences from getting accepted into the program to arriving at Carnegie Mellon and created journey maps to get a better understanding of how the experience was for them.

We then consolidated our journey map to get a better understanding of the typical master student’s journey at CMU

Key Insights from Journey Mapping

From journey mapping, we gained the following insights:

  • Students felt most distressed and overwhelmed while deciding whether to attend CMU because of the associated time and financial costs, the multitude of differing opinions about the program, and the lack of information about the value gained through the program.
  • In addition, students felt a steep dropoff after signing the acceptance letter, because there were so many tasks to complete, too many sources of information, and little direction on forms to fill out and how to register for classes.
  • Preparing to move was also a stressful experience due to the need to find appropriate roommates and housing, pack up and move stuff, and tie up loose ends at work or at home.

We also found that most students asked these general questions such as:

  • How do I register for classes?
  • What is the cost of tuition?
  • When is the due date to apply for loans?
  • Is Pittsburgh cold?

They also asked Career-Oriented Questions such as:

  • What are job opportunities like for students who graduate from the program?
  • What will I gain from doing this program?

We envisioned a future where all of these issues could be fixed and created an envisioned journey map where all of these painpoints were alleviated.


We envisioned some solutions to solve the problems and help answer the questions that students set out. We wanted to reduce the troughs in the previous journey map and make that experience a lot better for incoming students.

We did a round of visioning and came up with 15 possible solutions to solve some of these problems. We quickly realized that we were interested in helping give advice to incoming students and give them a personal mentorship experience. Every student we interviewed mentioned that they talked to alumni and that was huge reason for why they pursued the masters program at CMU.

We created the following scenarios and created paper and pencil prototypes to evaluate our idea:

Scenario #1:

Mark just got accepted into the MHCI program at CMU and some other great colleges. He wants to make the best decision for his future and is debating between all of his choices. When he is stressing out, he receives an email from Scotty to see if he needs help making his decision. He logs onto “ScottyChat” and sees that he can ask questions to Scotty the dog or get connected with an alumni. Scotty helps Mark get connected with an alumni through a few quick questions about his location and future interests (PM, Designer, Dev). Scotty helps him match up with alumni mentor John, and they are able to grab coffee at CMU and talk about what MHCI has to offer. Mark is very happy coming out of his meeting and signs his acceptance letter at CMU!!

Scenario #2:

It’s April. Jenny graduated last Fall from the MHCI program at CMU and is currently working as an UX Designer at IBM in San Francisco. She had a great time at CMU and wants to stay connected to the community. When checking her e-mail on Monday morning, she sees a message from Scotty. “Hey Tartan! We miss you! Ben is a prospective MHCI student in San Francisco and wants to learn more about the program. Will you help him out? Get some free coffee while you’re at it!” Well, I’m free this Saturday. I think I could take an hour to get coffee with Ben, she thinks. She clicks on the message and opens ScottyChat. Ben and Jenny have a quick conversation and plan to meet on Saturday at 2pm. After they meet, Ben feels much more informed about the program and is excited to attend!

Scenario #3:

Mark is getting ready to move into Pittsburgh and prepare for CMU. He is an avid gym-goer and is confused about what the gym is like at CMU. He wants to figure out if it’s got all of the right equipment and see if there’s a good gym in the neighborhood. He logs into ScottyChat and asks Scotty: “What is the gym like at the UC? I lift freeweights, and I was wondering if the CMU gym has equipment for that? Should I be looking for gyms in Shadyside?” Mark’s question gets routed to the MHCI slack channel where various people are able to look at the question and respond quickly. Mark gets a response from Scotty stating: “Here’s what other people have said: “The UC gym has a ton of equipment but it gets crowded, it might be worth it to get a membership at X Shadyside. It costs $55 per month (pricey) but it’s never crowded” Mark is able to use this information and figure out what subscription he needs.

Here are some examples of our paper prototypes:

We had users walk through our prototypes using those scenarios and got some great insights. Primarily we found out that:

  • People loved the idea of talking to Scotty the Dog. anthropomorphizing our chatbot worked really well.
  • Users found it confusing that the Chatbot was crowd sourced as well as automated. We needed to make that idea more clear to the users.
  • In addition, they found it hard to understand who to ask questions to. They didn’t know whether to ask questions to Scotty or to their mentor.

In response, we created round of prototypes and focused on making the Scotty and mentorships separate entities and making it easier for the user to understand what each entity is there for (Scotty is for general questions, and mentors are for deeper career-oriented and personal questions).

We then demoed these screens and got feedback on our visual design. We found that users found part of our flow to be a little bit confusing and wanted to make sure that we had a uniform design from mobile to desktop. We had used slightly different icons in place that made it a little bit harder to use at times. After our changes, we made InVision prototypes for both the mobile and deskop flows. I’ve linked them below for you to play with!


After creating these prototypes, we did a final round of evaluation and tried to better view where our end users would be. We did a journey map of a user with our envisioned solution and found that they would be a better experience overall. We were able to add benefits to the university and to the end user and make their admittance experience better overall.