Project EVIS: An Example of an Innovative Capstone Process
Over the past five years, the Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering Technology programs have transformed a single semester senior project course into a two semester course sequence. In its original format, the capstone course was too short and did not afford the students time to truly demonstrate their capabilities. The new two course sequence now requires the students to: Create a student project team. Find a project and assemble a technical assistance team that includes sponsorship and faculty advisors. Develop a conceptual design, a project management plan, and a formal proposal, Take the design from paper to an implemented prototype product. Present the final prototype in a sales-type presentation. The new format has elevated the level of student achievement in the capstone process and their final project implementation is now typically a professionally manufactured beta prototype that could easily lead to a commercial product. This paper will use a recent capstone project, Project EVIS (Expandable Vehicle Information System), to lead the reader through the entire capstone process. This project was undertaken by a group of four students and was centered on the development of a Bluetooth-based automotive diagnostic system. As with the majority of our current senior projects, it involved both mechanical and electronic hardware design as well as software development. The paper will discuss all phases of the project and will emphasize mechanisms used by the faculty to gauge the technical merit of proposed projects and to maximize the productivity and success of the students.