During the senior year, all computer engineering students are required to take the two quarter Senior Computer Systems Project course also know as the Senior "Capstone" Project. This course helps satisfy CE Major Degree Requirements in the Senior Elective Study Plan.
The Capstone Project gives Computer Engineering students the opportunity to put their education into practice. Students, working in small teams, design and engineer innovative hardware and software systems using techniques from robotics, distributed systems, circuit design, networking, and real-time systems to tackle problems and create a final "tangible" project.
Every year at the end of the Spring quarter the final projects are presented at a full-day, industry-sponsored event where student groups publicly present their projects and participate in an outdoor lunchtime project demonstration and poster event.
Student groups design a significant computer-based project. Groups work independently with interaction among groups via interface specifications and informal meetings.
Instructor (2013-14): John Johnson (ECE 189A/B)
During the first half of this course sequence, student groups choose a project, define and refine a description of its external behavior, then launch into the hardware design phase. By the end of fall quarter, using industry standard Computer Aided Design tools, they have produced detailed hardware schematics, fabrication-ready printed circuit board artwork, and complete component kits and associated documentation necessary for prototype assembly. An organized project notebook describing all aspects of the project as well as formal design reviews/presentations and the use of professional project management software complete the initial portion of the capstone design experience.
During winter quarter, the ECE department has the printed circuit boards fabricated and assembled and, when students return for the second half of the capstone project course, the focus turns toward overall project integration. On the first day of spring quarter, circuit boards are ready for initial power up, design debug and verification. In parallel, creation of the project software begins and any mechanical components are acquired and/or manufactured and assembled. Once the hardware design is validated and the software and mechanical development efforts are completed, the final project prototype is integrated, tested and verified. A succession of milestones, reviews and presentations ensures that project completion and introduction occur in a timely and successful manner.
At the end of spring quarter, each project team participates in the Computer Engineering portion of the Senior Capstone Project Presentation Day. During the day long event, the groups display posters highlighting their projects’ features and operation in the department’s courtyard and conduct a public presentation and demonstration of the completed projects.
Instructor (2013-14): Chandra Krintz (CMPSC 189A) and Tim Sherwood (CMPSC 189B)
The outcome of the first course (189A) is a prototype for the project, and the second course (189B) ends with a presentation day in which the completed projects are demonstrated publicly. The courses will establish partnerships between student project teams and companies who will provide challenging problems to the students based on what they will face in industry.
The Capstone course is an excellent opportunity to do something interesting and "real" that showcase students' abilities. Prospective employers value the ability to understand, explore, and present innovative solutions to real-world problems that are provided in this course.
CE instructor Dr. John Johnson relates his experiences about the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department's version of the Senior "Capstone" projects. Check out his and other interviews!