Four faculty members manage senior design projects in a continuous fashion that covers all fall and spring semesters. There is a partitioning of projects into two primary categories: EE/CptE and CptS. Two senior design faculty members start EE/CptE and CptS projects each August (with completion the following May) while the other two senior design faculty members start projects in January (with completion the following December.) Formal senior design activities cease for the summer; however, some teams that start their projects in January do continue to make progress during the summer months. Northwest companies provide the engineering projects and provide an industry mentor who has at least a four year technical degree. In many cases a co-mentor is also named so that students have a professional to contact if the mentor is on travel or immersed in another project. There is flexibility with respect to budgets but the target amount is $10,000 provided by the sponsoring company. The budget pays for WSU staff support including electrical and mechanical shops; computer, electronic and instrumentation hardware; computer software licenses; travel; and poster presentation materials. The dollar amount for the budget can be reduced substantially if the sponsoring company loans the team resources from their facility. Ideally the mentor meets with their senior team once per week for the duration of the project with conference calls and video conferencing being used routinely.
Important advantages to the sponsoring company include:
- Introduction of students to the company, its mission and its culture, which often leads to recruitment opportunities.
- An opportunity for the sponsor’s professionals to mentor students as they transition from classroom theory to industry practice.
- A structured environment where professionals at the sponsoring company provide tomorrow’s engineers and computer scientists valuable experience with project management, teamwork, innovation, communication skills, and presentation skill.
- Sponsoring companies help EECS equip the technical work force from new hires are drawn.
All students enroll in this two-semester-long course sequence requiring them to take on real-world engineering or programming problems as a member of a team that includes fellow students, a faculty advisor and an industry mentor. Students gain real-world understanding of corporate priorities and product development. Students also develop engineering professional skills beyond technical book work and lab work. Students also are exposed to professional relationships that can help launch their careers.
There are several avenues by which a project is initiated. Professionals at the sponsoring company may be solicited for a senior design project by one of the four senior design instructors when they are planning their next course. Alternatively, prospective sponsors are encouraged to propose a project to one of the senior design faculty members. Please contact one of the current senior design faculty (below) if you are interested in sponsoring a senior design project. If your project is accepted by the faculty member then a team of students will be assigned to it. The optimal team sizes is 4-5; however, larger or smaller teams have been formed, depending on circumstances. The mentor assigned by the sponsoring company supplies to the faculty member a detailed description of the project as envisioned by staff at the sponsoring company. Students eventually iterate with the sponsor’s mentor to establish client needs and they also consider the needs of other stakeholders beyond the sponsoring company. A faculty adviser (in addition to the instructor) volunteers to be a technical resource for the team to provide local on-campus guidance to the students.
Examples of recently completed projects include:
- A robotic submarine
- Teaching modules covering power supply topologies
- Software that translates assembly code into its C equivalent
- Haptic response profiling of avionic push-button switches
- Geomagnetic storm measurement and visualization
- A sensor that measures sunlight and wirelessly transmits the measured quantity to a base station
- Windows-based smart phone applications
- Neutral grounding schemes for hydroelectric generators
- Proteogenomics data analysis
- An iPad-controlled inverted pendulum robot.
Current Senior Design Faculty:
- Dr. Aaron Crandall, Computer science faculty, for Fall–Spring sequence — 509-335-4018 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dr. Patrick D. Pedrow, Electrical and computer engineering faculty, for Fall–Spring sequence — 509-335-1749 email@example.com
- Dr. Jose Delgado-Frias, Electrical and computer engineering faculty, for Spring–Fall sequence — 509-335-1156 firstname.lastname@example.org