ECEN 4573 – Spring Semester 2004 – Thursdays 8:00-11:50 AM
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Capstone Projects

Project Guidelines

During the semester, design teams are expected to consider engineering standards and realistic constraints similar to real-world considerations engineers would have when developing a new product. These considerations include:

  • Economic aspects, including cost of parts and manufacturing, as well as potential marketability of the system
  • Environmental impact of manufacturing and using the system
  • Sustainability:
    • Are system parts available from more than one vendor?
    • What maintenance and support will the product require?
  • Manufacturability
    • What is the effect of component tolerances on system performance?
    • Worst-case analysis, expected production yield
    • Testability
    • Compliance to regulations (FCC, etc.)
  • Safety
    • Safety in the workspace
    • System safety issues: no user access to voltages >50V, compliance to regulations (UL)
  • Impact on society

It is expected that teams will address these considerations in their PDR, CDR, and the final project report.


Preliminary Design Review (PDR)
  • Requirements:
    • Prepare your PDR presentation in PowerPoint form and provide a copy of the presentation and any supporting data/information on a Readable only CD (CD-R). This should be provided to the instructor at the time of your presentation. Should you not have access to CD-R's or facilities, please see the course instructor.
    • Bring hard copies of the Presentation and a preliminary version of the User's Manual to the meeting.  Make copies for the instructor, as well as both TA's.
    • All members of the team are expected to take an active role in the presentation.
    • The presentation should not take more than 30 minutes and is expected to be professional, and rehearsed.
  • PDR presentation and preliminary version of the user manual:
    • The main objectives of the PDR are to:
      • Propose and present the project
      • Convince the audience of its feasibility within the constraints of time, effort, and materials
      • Demonstrate that the project has appropriate complexity.
    • Therefore, the PDR Presentation should address at least the following:
      • Project objectives and purpose of the system: describe the goals and function of the project in clear, precise terms. Be as specific as possible. It is a good idea to present a set of baseline objectives plus possible extensions. Eschew garrulous, ostentatious and superlative language.
      • Outline of the approach: block diagrams with explanation of functionality and input/output interface between various (hardware and software) sub-systems. You should have some preliminary ideas of how to realize the circuitry of each block.
      • Implementation of the various sub-systems: discuss how various parts are going to be realized, giving possible alternatives. Again, be as specific as possible.
      • Division of labor and responsibilities: who is going to do what?
      • Schedule: give a detailed plan of how the project will be completed through the end of the semester. The plan and associated tasks should be related directly to project milestones, i.e. PDR, CDR, Milestone I, Milestone II, EXPO,etc..
      • Risks and contingency plan: identify areas of risk (e.g., schedule uncertainty, availability of components, unfamiliar technology, questionable feasibility) and plans to recover from such adverse events.
    • The preliminary version of the User's Manual should answer the following questions:
      • What does the system do?
      • What does it look like?
      • How is it used?
  • Grading:
    • The PDR accounts for 10% of the final grade. 50% of the PDR grade will be for the individual.
  • Examples of PDR presentations.

Critical Design Review (CDR)
  • Requirements:
    • Prepare your CDR presentation in PowerPoint form and provide a copy of the presentation and any supporting data/information on a Readable only CD (CD-R). This should be provided to the instructor at the time of your presentation. Should you not have access to CD-Rs or facilities, please see the course instructor.
    • Bring hard copies of the Presentation and the updated version of the User's Manual to the meeting. Make copies for the instructor, as well as both TA's.
    • All members of the team are expected to take an active role in the presentation.
    • The presentation should not take more than 30 minutes and is expected to be professional, and rehearsed.
  • CDR presentation:
    • The main objective of the CDR is to present the complete design of the system and to describe how the system is going to be implemented. Therefore, the CDR Presentation will include:
      • A system block diagram with a functional description of parts and interfaces
      • Complete specifications and detailed design of each subassembly, including circuit and logic diagrams, labeled parts, interfaces and pinouts, timing diagrams and waveforms
      • Description of software processes with their inputs and outputs
      • Test results and demo of completed parts of the system (if any)
      • Parts list
      • Updated detailed schedule with planned deliverables for Milestone 1, Milestone 2, and the final Open-Lab Expo.
      • Updated division of labor and responsibilities: who is going to do what?
  • Grading:
    • CDR accounts for 10% of the final grade. 50% of the CDR grade will be for the individual.
  • Examples of CDR presentations

Weekly Reports

Every Wednesday beginning February 11, a half-page progress report from each student will be sent to the instructor and TA's via email by 5:00 p.m. These weekly progress reports should continue until the end of the semester. The purpose of the weekly reports is to keep track of the progress and to facilitate better communication among the team members and the instructors. Active participation in the weekly reports will contribute to the "individual effort" portion of the final grade.

The weekly report should address the following:

  1. Summarize what you did this week, with a few sentences or bullets. This should include:
    • Any unresolved problems
    • Summary of communication and joint work performed with other members of the team
    • Plan of work for the next week
  2. Include a simple "time card" stating the date and approximately the number of hours you spent individually on lab-related work. Also indicate the date and number of hours you spent on lab-related work with other members of the team.
  3. Summarize your progress towards the next milestone in your schedule. This should include reasons for any discrepancies between actual progress and plan.
  4. You may also wish to ask for help, or to state any concerns or questions you have for the instructors.

The answers should be short but concrete (overly terse answers such as "the construction went on as scheduled, and no delays are expected " are not acceptable).