2014 Capstone Senior Design Competition

This year eight teams of computer science and computer engineering undergraduates participated in the Capstone Senior Design course which pairs motivated students with industry leaders to tackle challenging problems in computer science with real world relevance.

The two quarter course culminated in an all day event on June 5th in which team String Cheese won first place overall and tied for best poster for their project Eye in the Sky in collaboration with their industry partner PowWow Energy. The team members were EJ Fernandes, Drew Hascall, Jasen Worden, with team lead Alexander Huitric. They were tasked with flying a UAV over farm fields to detect water leaks to prevent crop and environmental damage. Images were taken by the UAV in both the visible and infrared spectrum and processed to determine the location of possible leaks. They also designed an intuitive website where farmers could view the status of possible leaks.

When asked about their greatest challenges, the team mentioned the difficulty of analyzing the plant images. "None of use knew anything about planet stress levels going into this, so it was an entirely new field for us to approach."

The runners up in the overall competition and tie for best poster, team NP-Compete and their industry partner Citrix worked on a software platform for peer-to-peer live video broadcast in a web browser. Their project would be convenient for users and cut costs for service providers.

The team consisting of Daniel Vicory (project lead), Nicole Theokari, Omar Masri, Jerry Medina, and Justin Liang mentioned the support they received from Citrix. "We had weekly meetings with our Citrix mentors who helped to make sure our goals were on track throughout the course. They provided us with the ability to sit in on project demos which provided all of us with insight into the industry we had not known about before."

A panel of UCSB alumni consisting of Ethan Kravitz, Adam Doupé, and John Morse judged the projects based on a combination of technical merit, scope of work, application of computer science fundamentals, best engineering practices, team work, and presentation. When asked about his experience judging the competition Dr. Doupé replied "Judging the capstone projects was exciting and difficult. All of the teams had such great projects! It was amazing to see how much students could accomplish in two quarters. I have no doubt that the students will go on to have excellent careers and make UCSB proud."

The capstone course was taught by Chandra Krintz in the winter and Tim Sherwood in the spring, with help from teaching assistant Geoffery Douglas and presentation coach Janet Kayfetz. "Capstone is a really unique opportunity for students to show off the many skills they learned over their time at UCSB, but more importantly, it is an opportunity for students to understand that the fundamentals they have acquired are the keys that unlock new technologies throughout an entire career" said Dr. Sherwood.

Congratulations to all the teams for their hard work and thanks to all the industry sponsors for their support. Descriptions of all the team projects can be found on the course webpage.