Maintaining and Effective Relationship

One of the most important things you can do to help the team succeed with the project is to maintain a good working relationship with the team’s coach. The coach has the strongest impact on the team. Your relationship with the coach will include meeting the coach, maintaining an appropriate project scope, and ongoing communication.

Meeting the Faculty Coach

Before the start of school, a faculty coach will be assigned to your project. Capstone will provide a copy of the Project Proposal that the company has filled out to give the coach more information about the project. Part of the information on this sheet will be your name. As soon as the coach receives this information, he/she will call you to discuss the project with you. You and the coach will then confirm the scope of the project or adjust it appropriately with instructor input.

Refining the Project Scope

As part of the contract, the Capstone Directors and an External Relations Manager will assess the project, based on the information provided in the Project Proposal and other communication with the sponsoring company. However, as you meet with the faculty coach and team, you will need to teach them more about the project and the scope that the company envisions.

A vital key to the success of the project is scoping the project properly. If the scope is too small, the team will not see the project as important and may not invest their full efforts. If the scope is too big, the company will expect the students to spend too much time on the project. The students will either be overburdened or will fail to do what the company expects, due to the time constraints. We invite you to work closely with the project team and faculty coach to ensure that the project scope is appropriate throughout the project duration. A Capstone External Relations Manager is also available to help resolve issues or concerns about project scope.

As a rough guideline, you should expect that the student team can spend 600 to 800 hours working on the project. Remember that students will be less efficient than practicing engineers, particularly early in the project. Remember also that the team will be expected to produce detailed designs in addition to hardware prototypes. As a rule of thumb, generally projects that require over 30 or so major components are too complex for a Capstone project.

If the scope of the project appears too large to the faculty coach and the team, they will negotiate with the company to see what can be done to reduce the scope. They may choose to take only certain subsystems and allow the company to take the rest, or they may agree to do system design and leave some details to the company. Whatever the final agreement, we hope you and the coach will do your best to make sure that the team will have the opportunity to design, build and test some kind of hardware.