Partnering with Industry for a Computer Science and Engineering Capstone Senior Design Course
Ken Christensen, Dewey Rundus1, and Zornitza Genova Prodanoff1
A capstone design course is an important component of the senior year curriculum for engineering students and plays a key role in achieving departmental ABET EC 2000 outcomes. In the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of South Florida, we have partnered with industry to have students work in teams on industry-contributed “real world” projects. Industry partners contribute projects, mentor students, give a guest lecture, and provide the opportunity for students to present ...view middle of the document...
Increasingly, industry is emphasizing the need for graduates to have both technical skills and soft skills. Soft skills include the ability to work in teams, participate in project planning and scheduling, give presentations, and be able to deal with uncertainties in a professional manner. There are many possible models for a capstone design course. They include having students select their own individual projects, assigning projects to individuals or groups of students, and having industry participation. Industry participation appears to be a growing trend, and we are part of this trend in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of South Florida.
There are several models for industry participation in a senior capstone project for computer engineering and computer science. Some colleges use student selected or faculty assigned projects that are then judged by an industry panel at project completion. Student selection of a project can be entirely unconstrained, or can require the students to target their projects for a given platform or development kit. Historically, senior project courses were based on individually completed projects, but the trend seems to be towards team projects. Another model for industry involvement is for participation starting with project selection. The IPPD program  at the University of Florida is a selective program enrolling approximately the top 25% of students in all engineering departments to work on industry-contributed projects in interdisciplinary teams of 6 students for a duration of two semesters. The remaining 75% of students, in some departments, select and complete individual projects. At North Carolina State University, an industry senior design center  was established in the Department of Computer Science in 1994. A collection of industry-contributed project ideas is maintained as part of this center. The focus of the capstone course at NCSU is on teaming, process, and professional communications. Many capstone courses emphasize both hard and soft skills. Modeling the capstone design course after a large-scale “virtual corporation”, and not a development team within a company, was done at Arizona State University . The virtual corporation was a large multidisciplinary organization of students. A comprehensive annotated literature review has been completed by Prodanoff . A national survey of capstone courses was completed by McKenzie et al. . Table 1 is a (non-inclusive) collection of Web links to industry-based capstone design courses in departments that offer computer engineering and computer science degrees.
Table 1 – Web sites of industry-based capstone design courses at selected universities
|University |Web site for CE and/or CS capstone course |Comments |
|Arizona |http://www.ece.arizona.edu/~ece498/ ...