DC students find their niche with capstone projects

The final year of several Durham College (DC) programs require students to complete an extensive capstone project. As part of this assignment, students must research their desired field of interest and develop a product using the skills they have learned through their program to fill a niche within the market. On April 7, students in the final year of the Electronics Engineering Technology program had the opportunity to show off their capstone creations.

“We expect our students to go out and find an opportunity or a problem to solve,” said Electronics Engineering Technology Professor Louis Bertrand. “We are trying to make them go out of the classroom and find something relevant to the real world and address that opportunity with what they have learned over the last three years with software, hardware, system design, analog hardware, transistors and chips.”

Ryan King, a third-year student in the program, excelled at this specific curriculum requirement. Combining a passion for cars with what he had learned through his program, King developed an aftermarket device allowing for electronic vehicle automation (EVA) in older vehicles. The device, which is installed into an older vehicle, allows use of modern features such as interactive voice commands, Bluetooth control through a smartphone or tablet and live engine telemetry readouts via duel LCD screens to a not-so-modern vehicle.

“I thought about what’s something all cars except those built in the last two or three years lacks, that automation, that voice control,” said King. “It would be really cool to bring that into the car scene as an aftermarket feature so with EVA you can now keep your hands on the wheel, keep your eyes on the road, talk to the car to turn different things on and start it with your phone from a distance.”

During the fall semester students spent one hour a week in class dedicated to learning project requirements such as patent searching, project management and mechanical technology as well as hearing from previous graduates who provide insight from their own capstone experiences.

“It’s a challenge,” said Bertrand. “We try and make sure the challenge isn’t so insane they just give up but challenging enough that it really stretches their capabilities and because it’s something generated by the students themselves, they are a lot more enthusiastic about the capstone assignment then us coming along with a single project designed for everyone.”