2015 Capstones

AT the heart of the ECE capstones are real, open-ended, engineering problems brought to us by clients. The best way to get a sense of the scope and diversity of the projects our students have successfully tackled is to see a few examples.

The course actually starts in the summer as clients, from small start-ups, large companies and not-for-profits, bring engineering problems to the Department as potential capstone projects. In the fall, things really get rolling when clients present their problems and students form teams based on their interests. Along with the students and client, a faculty member and tutorial assistant join each group to support the students.

Throughout the year-long course, students are taught professional skills they can immediately practice through their capstone project. One of their first tasks is to develop a proposal to bring everyone in the partnership into agreement about what needs to be accomplished. By clarifying the goals and stating them from the perspective of the client the team can keep the needs of the client at the forefront. From there, students move on to identify the requirements and constraints of the design and review the skills of the team to identify gaps that will need to be filled.

As students move through the design process, ECE faculty and teaching assistants mentor students in project management and other professional skills they will need throughout their careers. Teachers help students to step back from the details and become self-aware of the engineering process. Through this mentorship, students can develop the skills and critical thinking tools they will need to become professional engineers.

How each organization will use the results of the capstone differently and the final solutions students develop are uniquely their own. Rob Stead, our capstone client from Novadaq Technologies, saw value for his company in the exploratory nature of his team’s work. The capstone allowed Novadaq Technologies to take advantage of the students’ knowledge and experience in areas outside of company’s main strengths.

For Mike Andrews, from  the North Shore Emergency Management Office, the capstone prototype could be used very soon in the day-to-day operation of his organization.

If you have an engineering project that might be appropriate for a capstone we would like to hear from you. For more information about capstones including sample client proposals visit our website or contact us by email capstones@ece.ubc.ca.

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