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Capstone 2017: from heart simulators to high-altitude balloons

On March 31 and April 3, see how teams from Concordia’s Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science tackle major projects
March 20, 2017
By Amanda Clarke

At last year's Capstone Fair, Nathaly Arraiz (right) and her team displayed their mini satellite, called a CubeSat. At last year's Capstone Fair, Nathaly Arraiz (right) and her team displayed their mini satellite, called a CubeSat.

Hundreds of fourth-year students from the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science (ENCS) will soon reveal their 2017 final team projects to the Concordia community during the annual Capstone Fair.

Watch for building models, heart simulators, high-altitude balloons, sensors and smart-home technology. The action unfolds in the atrium of the Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex (EV) on Friday, March 31, and Monday, April 3. Teams presenting at the fair also face a technical judging panel.

"Capstone provides students with the opportunity to apply all the knowledge they've accumulated over the course of their undergraduate studies to a real-life problem,” says Nadia Bhuiyan, professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.

A taste of the real world

Over the course of the year, students work in groups on supervised design, simulation or experimental undertakings. They learn to craft a proposal and letter of intent, present their designs, develop their expertise, manage a budget and  — in many programs  — produce an end product.

Bhuiyan explains that students in her department get to work with real companies to produce fully functional products.

“This year there are a lot of interesting and challenging projects, from improving production processes at Bombardier Aerospace, to reducing patient wait times at the Jewish General Hospital, to reducing setup times at L'Oreal.”

Meanwhile, Civil engineering teams go through the process of constructing a building from start to finish. 

“It gives students a real taste of what it’s like to manage the design and costs of a project,” says Ricky Gioia (BEng 10), a technical officer and structural engineering design supervisor.

“Students are often humbled by the experience. They see first-hand all of the work and decisions that go into large-scale construction projects."

Undergrad turned supervisor

And Gioia would know. A former civil engineering student, he completed a Capstone project in 2009 that went on to become a 28-story building in Longueuil.

Now leading the civil engineering Capstone teams, he hopes they will have the same hands-on experience he did. Each summer, Gioia collects plans for current and future buildings so his students will begin their designs with a solid understanding of industry standards.

The focus on managing a complete project is the same across all departmental teams.

“It's amazing to see the innovation and seamless connection to industrial practices in these Capstone projects,” says Weiyi Shang, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering.

Moreover, the projects are a chance for students to participate in next-gen research while testing their project management, technical writing and presentation skills.

“Their newfound understanding of teamwork, group dynamics and transforming ideas on paper  into working prototypes fills a gap between textbook learning and the workplace,” adds Ashok Kaushal, lecturer and chair of the Capstone Design Committee for the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.

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