Thursday, two days before finals was the PSU Engineering Capstone showcase. Even though I have been a lecturer there for the last six years I didn’t realize it is by far the largest Capstone showcase of this type in the world, and it is growing year by year. This year there were over 200 teams competing, mostly graduating seniors, but a good number of freshmen in engineering, and not a few graduate projects, in all over 1000 participants.
The overflow training area had over 70 projects from Civil Engineering and Earth Science, Nuclear Engineering, as well as graduate projects and the displays from the freshman Engineering Design course.
The success of the showcase is in part because of a large number of corporate sponsors, many who sponsor multiple projects. Some of these projects are the very cutting edge of science, and provide a real challenge for the students.
My role as an instructor is quite simple: To convert the engineering students from students to world class engineers in 17 short weeks. The engineering students are organized in teams of 4 or 5 persons. Most of the teams consist of engineers from more than 2 disciplines. So the teams must get to know each other, work together as a functioning team, do the research, build a prototype or a final product as a team, with deadlines to meet. This is quite different from cramming for an exam.
The projects are quite different:
Here is a project to build a prototype fit-bit that monitors the total activity and inactivity of a subject.
Not all projects are innovative. This project from Philips ultrasound division involved upgrading an old impedance measuring device to function with the newest hardware and software, in short a project that many computer engineers will experience; what to do with legacy hardware and software.
My favorite project this year was to use a hololens to make an image of a liver projected in 3D in the hololens. The object was to help the surgeon by identifying nerves and vessels to improve the accuracy of surgery.