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Electrical engineering capstone projects provide students with an invaluable opportunity to work on a substantial design project from start to finish while leveraging the knowledge and skills they have gained throughout their undergraduate studies. While students take the lead on their capstone projects, guidance and oversight from faculty members can help maximize the educational and professional benefits students gain from this experience. There are several key ways faculty involvement supports students throughout the capstone process:

Setting realistic and meaningful project scopes: Faculty advisors play an important role in helping students identify capstone project ideas and scope them at a level that can be reasonably accomplished within the allotted time frame. They can draw on their experience to counsel students on determining a design challenge that is ambitious yet feasible given the student’s current abilities and resource constraints. This is crucial for ensuring students take on a project they can successfully complete while still gaining relevant engineering experience.

Providing technical expertise: As subject matter experts, faculty members are well-positioned to offer valuable technical guidance, advice and feedback to students as they work through the various stages of their capstone projects. From the initial planning phases through prototype development and testing, faculty advisors can help troubleshoot technical issues, recommend design approaches, connect students to relevant research, and ensure projects adhere to safety and engineering standards. Their input and perspective as experienced engineers helps elevate student work.

Developing project management skills: In addition to the technical aspects, capstone projects aim to develop students’ engineering practices such as project planning, documentation, teamwork, and professional communications. Faculty guidance supports this learning by working with students to establish realistic schedules and milestones, reviewing regular progress reports, and providing feedback on deliverables such as design proposals, documentation and final presentations. This coaching from faculty strengthens students’ ability to effectively manage complex engineering projects.

Connecting to resources: Capstone projects often involve gaining access to specialized tools, testing equipment, facilities or expertise not readily available in undergraduate labs and workshops. Faculty advisors serve as the liaison for connecting students to the various campus or industry resources needed to support their project work. Whether securing time on advanced equipment, arranging consultations with subject matter experts, or facilitating procurement of hard-to-obtain components, faculty guidance is invaluable for overcoming resource barriers.

Ensuring safety and ethics: As the technical authority overseeing capstone projects, faculty advisors ensure student work adheres to necessary safety protocols and engineering codes of ethics. They guide students through compliance requirements, permit applications, approvals for human or animal subjects research, and handling of hazardous materials if applicable. Maintaining safety and ethics is critical for protecting both students and their institutions. Faculty oversight provides accountability on these essential project elements.

Assessing learning outcomes: Most importantly, faculty advisors leverage their experience to assess the degree to which each student has met the intended learning outcomes of the capstone experience. Through reviewing final reports and presentations, advisors gauge the level of technical competence, design and problem-solving skills, team and project management abilities, and professional communication skills demonstrated in the completed student work. Their feedback verifies what was gained from each individual experience. This personalized assessment from faculty mentors helps direct future professional and educational pathways for graduating students.

The hands-on guidance, expertise and accountability that faculty advisors provide throughout the electrical engineering capstone process are incredibly valuable for maximizing the educational impact of this culminating project experience. Their involvement supports students in developing strong technical abilities while strengthening their engineering practices. It also helps facilitate the resources, compliance and individual assessment needed to successfully complete meaningful work and achieve the intended learning outcomes. For these reasons, dedicated faculty mentorship enrichly enhances what students gain from their undergraduate capstone design projects.


Capstone projects are intended to be a culminating experience for students to apply the knowledge and skills they have gained throughout their program of study. There are some inherent limitations to capstone projects that advisors can help students overcome. Understanding these limitations and working with an advisor is key to ensuring students get the most out of their capstone experience.

One of the main limitations of capstone projects is that they are often quite narrow in scope. Due to time constraints of a single semester or academic year, capstone projects generally focus on a well-defined topic or issue. While this narrow focus allows students to delve deeply into their topic of interest, it can also limit their learning if they are not exposed to broader perspectives and connections. Advisors can help students overcome this limitation by encouraging them to think about how their project relates to the bigger picture in their field of study. Advisors can ask probing questions to help students make links between their specific project topic and wider theories, concepts, and issues. This helps students gain a richer understanding of how their work fits within the broader context.

Another limitation is that the work students do for their capstone may only scratch the surface of investigating their topic thoroughly. Due to time limitations, capstone projects often only allow students to briefly examine research questions or design prototype solutions, rather than conducting truly in-depth exploration. Advisors can guide students to identify strategies for delving deeper, such as focusing their literature review on high quality sources that offer theoretical frameworks and debates, or designing research methodologies capable of generating more robust findings. Advisors can also encourage students to discuss limitations and future research directions in their final project, signaling they understand more remains to be done. This helps ensure students get the most learning from their surface-level investigations.

Students also often struggle to incorporate feedback and implement changes late in the capstone process due to tight deadlines. Advisors can intervene to help students overcome this by scheduling milestone meetings well before final deadlines. In these meetings, advisors can review outlines, preliminary findings, and drafts in progress to provide guidance for strengthening areas and addressing weaknesses early enough for students to iterate. Advisors can also show students how to systematically incorporate previous rounds of feedback into subsequent drafts or phases of work. Starting iterative feedback cycles earlier gives students more time to improve their capstone quality and learning.

An additional limitation is that capstone topics are sometimes too narrow or uninteresting for students to stay engaged and motivated throughout the entire project timeline. Advisors can help here by encouraging students to periodically revisit their driving questions and adjust scope or focus as needed to maintain motivation. Advisors can also guide students to identify related topics they find passionately interesting to cross-pollinate into their work. Staying engaged is key to students learning deeply from their capstone experience.

Applying learning from multiple courses can also be challenging in a capstone when those courses were taken over long periods of time. But advisors can support students here too by having them revisit course materials to refresh important concepts and theories from earlier studies. Advisors might suggest creating concept maps connecting ideas from different courses to make associations clearer. They could also prompt students to discuss how their capstone applies, challenges, or extends ideas from prior work. Revisiting past work helps cement students’ learning across their full program.

Navigating logistics and managing timelines can pose hurdles for some students as well. Advisors can minimize these limitations by providing clear capstone guidelines and timeline templates forstructuring work. They can check in regularly with students to ensure they stay on track. Advisors may also connect students with campus support services for additional assistance with research protocols, securing approvals, using specialized software tools, and other logistical components requiring expertise. Regular checkpoints keep capstones progressing smoothly.

While capstone projects provide a hands-on culminating learning experience, their inherent limitations in scope, depth, timeframe and other factors can hinder students maximizing their learning if unaddressed. Through proactively working with their advisor – providing guidance on connecting to broader contexts, designing for deeper investigation, implementing iterative feedback cycles, maintaining student engagement, refreshing multi-course connections, and navigating logistics – students can overcome these limitations and gain the richest transformative education possible through their capstone work. Capstones, with capable advisor support, truly allow students to bring together their entire academic experience and take their understanding of their field to the next level.


The University Writing Center at UCF provides tutoring support to help students with all aspects of their capstone projects from brainstorming and outlining to drafting and revising. Students can schedule appointments for one-on-one tutoring sessions to get feedback on their project proposals, literature reviews, methods sections, results sections, and discussions/conclusions. Tutors are trained to work with students at all stages of the writing process to help them clearly communicate their ideas and research. They are equipped to help with both the content and structure of papers as well as APA style formatting. Students are encouraged to visit the Writing Center multiple times as they develop their projects.

In addition to the Writing Center, UCF students have access to research consultations with librarians through the UCF Libraries. Librarians provide guidance on how to search for and evaluate academic resources for capstone literature reviews and how to formally cite sources in papers. They can advise students on accessing data sources or subject specialists if needed for their particular projects. Students are able to schedule individual meetings with librarians to get customized support in developing an effective research process and finding appropriate materials.

For students completing quantitative or experimental capstone projects, UCF’s Statistical Consulting Center provides free help on topics like choosing appropriate research methods and study designs, conducting data analyses in statistical software like SAS or SPSS, and accurately interpreting results. Consultants assist with everything from shaping draft methodology sections to troubleshooting issues that arise during data collection or analysis phases. Like with the Writing and Research Centers, scheduling appointments ensures students receive personalized attention tailored to their individual research questions and data.

The College of Graduate Studies at UCF oversees the university’s graduate programs and provides various resources to aid students as they undertake capstone work. They offer sample capstone project proposals and completed papers as models for formatting and content. Their website includes guides on the capstone process with timelines and approval procedures. For students completing theses, dissertations or other project types requiring committee approval, the College of Graduate Studies staff can answer questions about committee selection, proposal defense preparations and final submission of papers.

Within individual colleges and departments, many offer targeted support specific to the disciplines’ methods, topics and presentation formats. For instance, the College of Engineering and Computer Science runs prep workshops on creating effective posters, presentations and demonstrations for capstone projects. The Nicholson School of Communication holds proposal writing clinics where faculty provide structured feedback on developing focused research questions and study designs. Health professions programs routinely host capstone fairs where current students exhibit their projects and share advice for upcoming cohorts. Accessing college-level resources allows students to get guidance tailored to the expectations of their specific fields.

Many academic departments and research centers at UCF also sponsor undergraduate research programs, funding and conference presentation opportunities that can support capstone endeavors. For example, the Burnett Honors College provides funding for honors thesis research projects through its Honors in the Major program. Research and fellowship offices in individual colleges publicize internal and external grant programs that can help cover costs for equipment, supplies, participant compensation or conference travel to disseminate capstone findings. Additionally, involvement in faculty research labs and centers exposes undergraduates to ongoing projects and research mentorship that can inspire capstone topics or provide data sources.

UCF offers various campus-wide resources that, while not specific to capstones, can still aid students throughout their final projects. Health and wellness services like campus counseling and the Recreation and Wellness Center promote reducing stress – important for the self-care needed to sustain long-term capstone work. Technical support from places like Computer Services and Telecommunications helps with any IT issues that arise from data collection software, statistical programs or multimedia presentations. The extensive academic and professional support infrastructure at UCF works together to empower students to successfully complete their capstone requirements and gain valuable experiential learning.

UCF students are well-supported as they undertake capstone projects through personalized tutoring, research consultations, statistical help, general guidance from graduate and department offices, discipline-specific workshops, funding opportunities, involvement in research labs and campus wellness resources. By taking advantage multiple on-campus centers, faculty mentorship and fellowships, undergraduates are equipped with necessary tools and expertise to design, implement and communicate original research or projects before graduating.


When developing prototype medical devices, ensuring safety and functionality should be the top priorities for students. There are several important steps students can take to address these critical factors.

Testing, Testing, Testing – Extensive testing is crucial to evaluate a prototype device and refine any issues before human use. Students should create test plans and conduct tests in various simulated-use scenarios to identify potential problems. All components and systems should be rigorously tested to establish they work as intended and will not fail in a way that endangers a user. Regular testing throughout the development process allows issues to be found and addressed early.

Address Biocompatibility – Students must prove all materials used in the device that may contact tissues, fluids or other biomaterials are biocompatible and will not introduce toxicity or other harmful risks. This involves material selection, surface testing and interaction testing under simulated biological conditions over time. Any material of unknown biocompatibility should not be used.

Establish Design Controls – To ensure consistent and repeatable safety and performance, students should follow design control processes. This includes clearly defining design inputs and specifications upfront based on intended use and risks, using a phased design and development approach with gate reviews at each stage, conducting a hazard analysis, implementing validatable manufacturing and quality systems and more. Formal design controls provide oversight and management of risks.

Consider Human Factors – How users will interact with and respond to the device must be carefully evaluated. Usability testing involving intended users should be done to identify any human factors issues early such as unintuitive controls, sizing concerns or potential for user error. The design should incorporate reliable user interfaces and foolproof designs to prevent accidental harm. Instructions for use must be fully validated for comprehensibility as well.

Follow Risk Management Processes – A risk management process pursuant to international medical device safety standards should be implemented. This includes identifying and analyzing all reasonably foreseeable hazards and estimating/evaluating associated risks, then controlling these risks by priority through design changes, additional testing, warnings or other means. Residual risks must be reduced to acceptable levels before human exposure.

Conduct Animal or Initial Human Testing – Depending on the class of device and risks, it may be appropriate for students to conduct limited animal or initial human testing of the prototype under an approved Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee or Institutional Review Board protocol. This allows further evaluation of safety and performance in more realistic biological conditions before broader human clinical research. Strict protocols minimize risks.

Validate Sterility and Cleaning – For devices requiring sterilization or cleaning prior to reuse, students must fully validate appropriate sterilization/cleaning methods and equipment under worst case soil and bioburden conditions. Sterility assurance levels and cleaning efficacy must be established through processing validation as well as product shelf life testing as needed. Cross-contamination risks are unacceptable for medical devices.

Address Manufacturability – To ensure consistent safety and performance once scaled up, prototypes should incorporate design features suitable for manufacturing as well as be conceptually manufacturable through anticipated processes. Students should evaluate manufacturability factors and eliminate any unfeasible components or assembly steps identified. Production quality systems such as process validation help assure manufacturing results in an acceptably safe product.

Document All Activities – Throughout development, students must retain documentation on all activities demonstrating due diligence to address safety and functionality concerns. This includes detailed test plans and reports, risk analyses, design reviews, validations, changemanagement records and other essential documents. Complete records serve to prove care and analytical protocols were followed in line with regulations, standards and best practices.

By systematically addressing these factors, students can give their medical device prototypes the best chances of proving safety and functionality while also gaining valuable experience with disciplines required in medical technology product development. With thorough processes and documentation, they minimize risks in line with prevailing standards of care for developing medical devices.


The PLTW Capstone project provides students with many valuable benefits as they work to complete this culminating design experience before graduating. One of the biggest benefits is that students gain real-world engineering experience by working through an open-ended problem that simulates what engineers encounter in their careers. Unlike standard school assignments with clear parameters and objectives, a Capstone project requires students to define the problem or need, do background research, create design constraints and criteria, explore ideas, build prototypes, test and redesign as needed. This replicates the iterative process engineers use daily and allows students to learn what true engineering work involves.

Students develop important soft skills like collaboration, project management, communication and presentation abilities as they work in teams. The Capstone project is too complex for one person to complete alone, so students divide up responsibilities, set progress goals and deadlines, coordinate tasks, provide peer feedback, and make group decisions together. This mimics collaborative engineering in the workplace. Presenting progress updates and final results to teachers and judges improves students’ presentation and public speaking skills as they explain technical information to different audiences, another skill engineers rely on. The project also enhances time management and the ability to multitask as students must balance their Capstone work with other school commitments.

Research is an essential part of the Capstone process. Students delve deeply into the background of their chosen problem or opportunity and study similar existing solutions to gain insights. This helps them define the need or gap they aim to address. Conducting thorough research early on also allows students to narrow their focus and develop more informed criteria and constraints for their design. Hands-on prototyping and testing then enable students to apply their research to build working models. The iterative process of testing, analyzing results, and refining designs mirrors the research and development engineers employ to solve problems. Through research and prototyping, students gain experience identifying issues to explore, gathering information from multiple sources, analyzing what works and what doesn’t, and using data to guide redesign—critical skills for any engineering career.

By going through the entire design process from defining the problem to creating, building, and presenting final solutions, students learn what it truly means to be an engineer and gain a competitive edge over their peers. Employers want to hire graduates who understand practical applications and have real experience working on open-ended, multifaceted engineering problems from start to finish. A completed Capstone project provides hard evidence of these deeper learning outcomes and applicable skills that are valuable for any science, technology, engineering or math career. Undergoing such an authentic engineering experience as their PLTW high school culmination project prepares students to hit the ground running in postsecondary programs or careers.

The process of presenting progress updates and final results to judges from industry and academia creates opportunities to network. Feedback from judges improves students’ presentation skills while guiding refinement of their designs. Judges often represent companies and universities students may one day apply to. Successful projects can even lead directly to scholarships, interviews or cooperative education offers. Learning to convey complex technical information through clear explanations, visuals and demonstrations sharpens students’ communication abilities, building confidence as they prepare for future interviews, reports and collegiate coursework. This interview experience mitigates nerves and gives students opportunity to start building their professional networks and references early.

Completing the Capstone design process strengthens students’ time management, allowing them to balance long-term projects with other school responsibilities and activities. Students learn to organize tasks, create schedules, prioritize competing demands, and monitor progress towards established deadlines during their yearlong Capstone work. These skills transfer well to college course loads and eventually demanding careers that require multitasking and ongoing long-term planning. PLTW’s emphasis on hands-on prototyping, building, and testing throughout the project enhances spatial and mechanical reasoning skills. Being able to visualize solutions from blueprints or technical drawings, and safely operating tools for fabrication is valuable experience for any engineering field.

The open-ended challenge of a PLTW Capstone project enables students to identify needs, research solutions, conceptualize original ideas, build working models, and present results—all while developing essential professional soft skills. Students gain experiential learning tied directly to real engineering practice that readies them for postsecondary education or careers. The yearlong project proves students can solve complex problems from start to finish, providing tangible evidence for college admissions or employment. From developing communication abilities to practicing time management and teamwork, the PLTW Capstone experience delivers immense benefits and a competitive edge for students’ futures.