“We went last year from forty projects to sixty projects this year,” Jack Baskin Endowed Professor Patrick Mantey, who created and directs the senior design capstone program said. “From two hundred students participating to three hundred, I’m extremely proud of the whole crowd.”
June 4th was Partners’ Day at the Baskin School of Engineering when students working on a sponsored project presented the results of their project to their sponsors. All of these projects and more will be on display again on June 14th for Commencement.
Senior capstones are designed to bridge the gap between academia and industry by solving real engineering problems. It’s a chance for students at the Baskin School of Engineering to apply the academic skills they’ve learned and develop new skills that they’ll need after they graduate.
“The projects have turned out really well this year,” Computer Science and Engineering Lecturer Richard Jullig said. “This work is an important part of their education and it really isn’t an easy thing for them to do… it’s much harder than it appears, so I think pretty much all the teams have done good work across a wide spectrum of domains.”
Students select projects (including some proposed and sponsored by local organizations such as CISCO, Poly, Continental SA, Accolade, Autosense International, SkyTran, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and DeepMapAI) or create their own, assemble into teams and spend either two or three quarters working on them, depending on their major.
“It’s really interesting being a teaching assistant for a senior capstone class,” said TA Alexandra Stambaugh, who is working on a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. “You’re almost like a consultant, dealing not just with technical problems but also figuring out logistics and the technical writing aspects - which in this class is huge. Definitely different than being a TA in any other class.”
Mentorship is a crucial component of the senior capstone projects. An important part of engineering is realizing that you can never really “go it alone.” Students rely on one another and a support network of professors, teaching assistants, alumni, lab workers, other senior project groups, staff members and in many cases co-sponsors who have provided material support (such as a fully-sized solar panel for the Passive Cleaner Bot) and expertise.
“It was pretty rewarding to give them exposure to something they wouldn’t normally get to see,” said Michael Distasio, a senior data scientist at Accolade, which sponsored two Corporate Sponsored Senior Design Projects. “It was exciting to be able to see that and watch them learn and develop… we’re incredibly proud… we’re about to go back and turn what they created into a tool used day to day by our team.”
This year’s projects included analytics hardware (and software) for gardening; an attempt to use software to fuse together the feeds of several cheap sensors to replace LIDAR on autonomous vehicle; apps for calculating sailboat trajectories; apps for allowing long distance lovers to synchronously share television feeds; apps for summoning, funding and fostering crowds of protestors; satellites, solar race cars, whale trackers, forest fire trackers, and much, much more.