At the end of each semester, UT Dallas Computer Science and Software Engineering seniors come together one last time before their graduation ceremonies to present their final capstone project at the UTDesign Computer Science Expo. Last December, twenty-two teams ranging from three to five members each, presented their final projects to a room full of their peers, UT Dallas faculty members, and industry professionals. These final projects allow students to apply the knowledge that they have gained in the course of their education while studying at the UT Dallas Computer Science department. This year’s projects ranged from a Raytheon-sponsored video game created to educate its users about cyber security pertaining to Virtual Whiteboard for Citigroup, all the way to a voice-controlled drone for Fujitsu Labs of America.
For one semester, students in the Computer Science and Software Engineering BS program are required to create senior projects as part of the UTDesign program, a team-based capstone course for Jonsson School students that connect companies to teams of senior students. This final project allows students to apply concepts they have learned in past courses, engage in a full-scale design process, as well as practice their project-management, problem-solving skills.
During the course of each project, each team of students has two coaches: a corporate mentor, who acts as a technical point of contact for the company, and a faculty advisor who is an expert or has some degree of technical familiarity with the project at hand. For each UTDesign project, teams of students often put in up to ten hours of work each week. The involvement of the company mentor is crucial for the success of the project and the learning process for the student. Corporate experts mentor the team to assist them in meeting benchmarks during the project and help the students with learning new technology used in the company. In doing so, the students’ are able to benefit from corporate experience as well as gaining an appreciation for teamwork.
After opening remarks by Dr. Ivor Page, founding director of the CS UTDesign program, the teams took to the podium for their oral presentations. Each team was allowed to use only one slide to present their work. Brevity was key in covering the goal of the project, design of the project, project testing, validation plan, results achieved, project management approach, and acknowledgement of sponsors – all within an allotted five minutes. Each of the projects was judged by the industry visitors and faculty on the basis of the quality of the technical content within their presentation- problem description, the design approach, and the implementation, oral and visual presentation skills including effective use of 5 minutes to present, the ability to understand/explain the social impact of the project, the ability to explain the process followed for the project with support from related documentation, and the quality of technical content in the poster.
Following oral presentations, the teams stood by their posters where they were able to discuss their projects with judges, faculty, industry visitors, and students who were interested in more detail. These projects afford students exposure to real world problems and in the process, they gain industry experience, as well as learn new technologies that are currently being used in the workplace. As an ancillary benefit, students have the opportunity for internships or employment recruitment by company sponsors.
The following were the top three winning projects for the Fall 2016 UTDesign Senior Capstone Projects:
The 1st place winning team was the Voice Controlled Drone, sponsored by Fujitsu Laboratories of America. The goal of the project was to create a voice controlled drone, demonstrating cloud service integration for IoT devices.
The 2nd place winning team, Fingerprint Biometrics – Secure Inmate Tracking was sponsored by Tyler Technologies. The goal of the project was to add fingerprint scanning functionality to jail inmate movement tracking.
The 3rd place winning team was the Redesign of the Worldwide Procurement & Logistics (WPL) Website, which was sponsored by Texas Instruments (TI). The goal of the project was to improve the speed, functionality, security, and user friendliness of TI’s WPL website.
The UTDesign program has proved to be a valuable resource to companies all around the DFW Metroplex; the program has helped numerous companies expand their current outreach by taking advantage of the skills and knowledge of UT Dallas’ computer science and software students. Many companies, such as Texas Instruments, Aprima, Fujitsu Labs, and Tyler Technologies, field multiple projects every semester. There have been many instances where the code developed by students has been put into production by the company. The Fall 2016 sponsors of the UTDesign Computer Science teams included the following organizations: Aprima Medical Software Inc., Bridge Alliance, Capital One, Citigroup, City of Dallas, Fidelity Investments, Fujitsu Laboratories of America, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Raytheon, Scratchwork Development, Texas Instruments (TI), Tyler Technologies, and the UT Dallas Center for Robust Speech Systems (UTD CRSS).
The next UTDesign CS Expo will take place this May.
Click here to view photos from the event.
ABOUT THE UT DALLAS COMPUTER SCIENCE DEPARTMENT
The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with over 2,100 bachelor’s-degree students, more than 1,000 MS master’s students, 150 PhD students, and 86 faculty members, as of Fall 2016. With The University of Texas at Dallas’ unique history of starting as a graduate institution first, the CS Department is built on a legacy of valuing innovative research and providing advanced training for software engineers and computer scientists.