Request for Approval
The request for approval (RFA) is the very first step in successfully completing a senior design project. Once you are assigned a project, your team must submit an RFA through PACE under the My Project page. Once submitted, your project will be placed on the Web Board as a "Project Request" post, and you can also access this same post through the My Project page we used before.
Once you have submitted your RFA, the course staff will provide feedback on your idea (which will appear at the bottom of your project's page), or suggest changes in the scope of the project and ask you to re-submit an RFA. Based on your responses, your project will be approved, or in some cases, rejected. If your project is rejected, this does not mean failure! Your team just needs to resubmit an RFA that meets the expectations of the course staff. This can be done by repeating the above steps.
Once your project is approved, your team will be assigned a project number in the Projects list. Once all the projects are approved, you will also be assigned a dedicated Professor and TA. This would be the time to double check that all the information for your project in the My Project page is correct.
Requirements and Grading
The RFA is worth 5 points, graded credit/no credit based on whether your RFA was submitted before the deadline. The RFA is submitted through PACE under the My Project page, and should include the following information:
- [Student 1], [Student 2], ... and [netid], [netid], ... of all team members.
- A [Title] for your project
- Problem - Describe the problem you want to solve and motivate your design.
- Solution Overview - Describe your design at a high level and how it solves the problem and introduce the subsystems of your project.
- [Subsystem #1] - Describe what the subsystem accomplishes. Suggest what kinds of sensors/components you will use in this system.
- [Subsystem #2]
- Criterion for Success - Describe high level goals of what your project needs to meet to be effective.
- Distribution of Work - Describe generally how the work for your project will be split across your team members. Also justify the level of mechanical/electrical complexity of your project based on the majors and skills of your team.
Projects must be legal and ethical. They must have significant scope and complexity commensurate with the size of the team. This is, of course, a subjective assessment of the course staff. To gain some insight into this judgment, please browse projects from previous semesters. The project must involve the design of signficant systems (cannot just be integration).
Submission and Deadlines
The RFA submission deadline may be found on the Course Calendar.
Quick Tips and Helpful HintsPosting:
- Post early and you will receive more time and attention from the course staff.
- Come up with a descriptive name for your project. The following terms are, essentially, banned from project titles, as they tend to be overused and not convey useful information:
- Internet of Things
- Give as much detail as you can in the post. It will be easier for the course staff to understand what you are going for and it will be easier for you to develop an acceptable project.
- Be ready to work with the course staff to refine your idea. The feedback you receive is not necessarily meant to discourage you from pursuing a specific idea (sometimes it is, and we will be clear about this). Rather, it is meant to help you refine and improve that idea, as well as ensure that you have considered potential pitfalls that might arise over the course of the semester.
- Energy harvesting projects typically don't work out:
- If you are considering an energy harvesting project, make sure you aren’t stealing. Even if the energy is apparently free, someone may be paying for it.
- Do not propose to put turbines on water faucets or induction loops near power lines.
- Creating your own turbine blades or winding your own generators is usually a recipe for disaster.
- Sound/room light/vibrations are all forms of energy, but there is little of it and it is difficult to extract.
- If you choose to use a dynamo, make sure you have a strong understanding of dynamos, there design, use, and limitations.
- Do not attempt an energy harvesting project if you are a group lacking somebody who is experienced in power and energy.
- Charging batteries is somewhat terrifying: make sure you are familiar with the risks, dangers, and ECE 445 Course Procedures related to batteries. Any team undertaking a project with significant battery usage will be required to complete additional safety training and follow specific procedures and guidelines for safe battery usage.
- Image, sound, and voice recognition are more difficult than they seem:
- Image processing and sound/voice recognition are not easy problems and actually forms the subject of many current Ph.D. dissertations. This is especially the case if real-time processing is required. That said, existing software packages do exist (e.g., OpenCV) which may make some common image/video/sound processing tasks "simple". However, realize that using these packages does not satisfy the design requirement of the course.
- Image processing can be extremely difficult for computers, which is why the captcha/recaptcha system exists. It can also be extremely processor intensive.
- Do not assume your project will be able to recognize text or patterns in front of arbitrary backgrounds.
- If you really want an image processing component to your project, consider the following tips:
- Simplify the problem by making sure the camera view is controlled so the background is quasi-static.
- Make the objects or sounds you will try to recognize distinctive. For example, rather than attempting to locate fingertips, make a glove with green LEDs on the fingertips and locate those. For audio project, think about recognizing distinctive sounds, such as whistles or clapping, rather than arbitrary sounds in a noisy environment.
- Consider the optical system you will use. Understand the magnification and depth of focus of your system.