Every semester, UT Dallas Computer Science (CS) and Software Engineering (SE) seniors come together one final time before graduation to present their final capstone project at the biannual UTDesign Computer Science Expo. Last December, thirty-one teams ranging from three to five members each, presented their final projects in front 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. Last fall’s projects ranged from a Walmart emergency lighting remote monitoring system to a juror self-check-in system made for Tyler Technologies, all the way to UT Southwestern sponsoring a virtual and augmented reality for interventional planning in congenital heart disease.
Among the corporate sponsors in last fall’s expo were Atmos Energy, Atos, Aprima Medical Software, Capital One, Citigroup, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Fujitsu Network Communications, Fidelity Investments, Raytheon, Rockwell Collins, Texas Instruments, Tyler Technologies, UT Southwestern, UT Dallas, and Walmart. Many of these companies have used the code that students developed and have put it into production within the company. The capstone project course is taught by Dr. Miguel Razo, who is also the CS UTDesign Program Director. Dr. Razo is assisted by the UT Design Staff led by Assistant Dean Mr. Rod Wetterskog.
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. Both faculty and corporate mentors serve as judges at the expo at the end of the semester. The involvement of the company mentor is crucial to 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 the corporate experience as well as gaining an appreciation for teamwork.
Companies are not alone in benefiting from the program, as students working on the projects also grow from the experience of finding solutions for sponsoring companies’ projects by offering innovative ideas, forward-thinking approaches to solving problems, and bold and creative solutions. Students enrolled in the program are given the opportunity to fully engage in the design process and use their project-management skills, including planning, budgeting, communication, scheduling, and presentations. This is in conjunction with applying critical thinking and problem-solving skills while working on projects applicable to a variety of companies, consumers, or UT Dallas faculty members’ research.
On the day of the expo, each team was allowed to use only one slide to present their work. Brevity was critical in covering the goal of the project, design of the project, project testing, validation plan, results achieved, project management approach, and acknowledgment of sponsors – all within their allotted five minutes. Projects were judged by the quality of technical content within the presentation – problem description, design approach, and implementation – as well as oral and visual presentation skills that included effective use of 5 minutes to present, understand/explain the social impact of the project, ability to explain the process followed for the project with support from related documentation, and the quality of technical content in the poster.
The following were the top three winning projects for the Fall 2017 UTDesign Senior Computer Science Capstone Projects:
The 1st place winning team was Project Atlas Augmented Reality “Monocle View” Mobile App, sponsored by Project Atlas, LLC. This project’s goal was to develop an iOS AR application that extends the functionality of Project Atlas’ web-based application, as well as to bring AR to construction. The application was built using the latest version of Swift and utilized Apple’s recently released augmented reality API, AR Kit. The key functionality of the app was to allow a Project Atlas user to be able to log in to their account and be able to locate project work tasks physically. By using augmented reality, the project work tasks are displayed on the user’s screen with the illusion that they are being projected into their real space geographic coordinates. AR Kit allowed the team to project objects onto these coordinates and guide users to where these work tasks are located. The user is also able to select a work task and link to the full Project Atlas application in order to view full details and make changes.
The 2nd place winning team was VR Tools for Cardiac Models, sponsored by UT Southwestern. For their project, the team built a virtual application that provided UT Southwestern Medical Center’s medical staff with a virtual approach for anatomic images. To build the project, the team paired the technology of the HTC Vive with a user-friendly interface using Unity to gain a different perspective for interventional planning images. The application provides users with the opportunity to interact with specific datasets using the number of implemented tools UT Southwestern had requested of the team. The first phase of this project was to create the basic structure and tools for the following phases of the project.
The 3rd place winning team was Emergency Lighting Remote Monitoring, sponsored by Walmart. The goal of the project was to reduce the time and costs associated with monitoring and replacing emergency lighting systems in Walmart’s stores. The team was tasked to monitor the lights for errors, aggregate them, and report them to Walmart’s IoT backend. The team developed an add-on device that directly monitors the error-reporting LED on the emergency lighting devices without interfering with the emergency device itself. The monitoring devices report their codes to a gateway server that is located locally, one per store, which then triggers a script to report the error to Walmart’s corporate offices.
Below are a few photos from the event, Click here to view more photos from the Fall’17 UTDesign CS Expo.
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 2,400 bachelors-degree students, more than 1,000 master’s students, 150 Ph.D. students, 53 tenure-track faculty members and 38 full-time senior lecturers, as of Fall 2017. 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.