Capstone Experiences

The Olin curriculum is based on the idea that engineering starts with people— understanding who they’re designing for and what they value. It also ends with people—understanding the social context of their work and making a positive difference in the world. 

This is epitomized in students’ engineering capstone projects, which are the Senior Capstone Program in Engineering (SCOPE) and the Affordable Design and Entrepreneurship (ADE) capstone.

  • SCOPE is an industry-university collaboration. Over the course of a full academic year, seniors work on projects in teams to provide innovative solutions to a company’s real-world problems.
  • For the ADE project, students develop technologies and ventures to meet the daily needs of the world’s poorest people.
  •  In addition, all students must complete a capstone experience related to Arts, Humanities, Science or Entrepreneurship (AHSE). Students self-design their AHSE capstone project and take an analytical approach to a creative or scholarly topic. They include artistic or musical creative projects, research projects and activity-centered projects like community service work.

Empowering West African Women

Traditional methods of producing gari, a food made by shredding the shrubby cassava plant, are time-consuming and physically burdensome for many women in West Africa. Through an Affordable Design and Entrepreneurship (ADE) class, six students embarked on a social venture to empower gari producers by reducing their burden with a small-scale cassava mechanized grater. An early version ran on a generator powered by fuel and was deployed in Adumkrom, a farming village near Agogo as a pilot project in 2011. Students later presented a newer version of the grater that runs on solar energy to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology

Education in the Developing World: A Compilation of Education Initiatives

For her AHSE project, Elizabeth Poindexter ’13 compiled summaries of educational initiatives active in developing regions. She used the information to compare initiatives with similar goals or in similar geographical areas in order to understand attributes and techniques that can lead to successful or unsuccessful outcomes. 

Investigating the Viability of Third-Party Presidential Candidates in American Politics

For his AHSE capstone, Tom Pandolfo ’13 assessed the viability of a viable third-party presidential candidate in the American electoral system. He analyzed the current two-party-centric environment, investigated successful third-party campaigns and generated solutions to third-party obstacles, then incorporated those solutions into hypothetical campaign materials for a fictional third party candidate. 

The Archnemesis Network

Emily Tumang ’16, Jennifer Anderson ’16 and Justin Poh ’16 saw a new way to meet people who share similar interests—especially if the interest is specialized, as is the case for science fiction and fantasy fans. For an entrepreneurial project, they created the Archnemesis Network, a gaming-oriented social network that brings people together in facilitated live-action adventure activities. Unlike other social networks, its format is a collaborative, fun, live-action video game.

Youth Development and Job Creation Southern United States

Persistent poverty in the southern United States has contributed to an array of challenges for youth aged 16-19. Many drop out of school, facing failing educational systems and social challenges, while others struggle to find employment or job skills training. ADE partnered with HERO, a non-profit in one of Alabama’s poorest counties, between 2011 and 2013 to explore job creation and job skills training for at-risk youth. The team identified opportunities such as launching small-scale manufacturing ventures and specialty product marketing companies that offer business and technical training. The “startup” ADE team aims to launch for-profit ventures with the unique potential to stimulate youth employment.

Treadware: Biometric Feedback Devices for Training Athletes

For an entrepreneurial project, a group of three students teamed up to design a hardware-software application that provides biometric feedback to equip athletes to assess their performance more precisely. A thin shoe insert made of pressure sensors collects data from the weight distribution of the feet and sends it to a transmitter strapped to the ankle or shoe. The transmitter sends this data to a smart device, which reviews the heat map data, allowing the athlete to evaluate it and identify areas for improvement.

SCOPE Project: Improving Early Detection of Lung Cancer

Currently, 75 percent of lung cancer is diagnosed after it has already reached stages III or IV and the 5-year survival rate is less than 15 percent. Diagnosis involves several steps. Low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans show physicians any dense area of tissue, or lesions, in the lungs. If the lesion has a high risk of being cancerous, the physician conducts a biopsy—but it is difficult to be certain that the biopsied tissue is from the lesion or surrounding tissue. The Boston Scientific-Olin SCOPE team explored a non-traditional lesion detection method to address this issue.

SCOPE Project: Working with Facebook

The Facebook SCOPE team investigated how to improve the Facebook Android application experience for users in emerging markets. These users have slow network connections and limited data plans, which detract from their experience. Over the course of the year, the Olin team explored technologies that can significantly reduce data consumption for the application. This team created  technical demonstrations of its technologies that will reduce data consumption within the app to improve the usability.