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EPAD Capstone

A capstone experience to afford seniors in EPAD the invaluable opportunity to participate as members of a design team (usually involving students from other disciplines, especially business) and function as they will as professionals in practice. This course involves students in all the phases of the design process from recognizing the need through a detailed conceptual design. Teams of students utilize what they have learned throughout their undergraduate studies to create their own engineering designs from concept to prototype to business planning. The design projects require students to draw upon their EPAD background, experience, and other pertinent resources. Oral and written presentations are required. This is a communication-intensive course. 

EPAD track students are expected to complete the capstone project during their senior year. However, students planning to graduate in January must start their projects during the Fall of the year preceding graduation.

Procedure for EPAD capstone project registration

The list of the available projects will be available by March 10 for the following academic year. Once the list of projects is available, students will have two weeks to provide their preferences and qualifications, using the following form: <link will have to be updated with new projects every year>.

 The students will be notified by their project assignments by the end of the semester. At that point, they will be given instructor permission to register for the corresponding research section of PHYS471/APSC471. Exceptions to this pattern must be approved by the Research Coordinator.

The Group Reports

1. Mid-year Reports: All EPAD project groups are required to present a mid-year report, consisting of a paper and a short talk.  The paper is to consist of approximately 5-10 double-spaced printed pages including appropriate figures, formulae, and references.  It should describe both the work to date and the final goals of the project. The first draft of the paper will be submitted to the research advisor by the Monday before the Thanksgiving holiday.  The corrected paper will be returned on the next Monday so that a corrected mid-year paper can be submitted when the oral report is given.  Mid-year oral reports will be given during the last week of classes.  They will be of 30-40 minutes duration with 10 minutes allowed for questions and comments. Each students who successfully completes Physics 471 will receive a grade of "G" at the end of the first term of the project.

 2. Complete Draft: A complete draft of each group's report (not necessarily including all final results and discussion) must be submitted to the group research adviser and EPAD coordinators no later than four weeks before the last day of classes of the student's graduating semester.

3. Report  Submission: One week before the last day of classes of the student's graduating semester a copy of the completed group report must be submitted to the advisor and the EPAD coordinator(s). This copy need not be on acid-free paper unless it will be the copy retained by the Department. It is expected, that on average each group member will have written roughly equal portion of the entire document. Under normal circumstances, same grade is assigned to all group members.

4. Project Summary for Diverse Audience: Each individual student must submit a brief project description (not exceeding 500 words), written at a non-scientist level (for example, for high-school students). It must summarize the goals of the project, student’s contribution and results.  The Project Summary must be e-mailed to the EPAD Coordinators together with the thesis draft one weeks before the last day of classes of the student's graduating semester.

The Oral Examination

1. Scheduling of Examination: All oral examinations will be completed by noon of the first Thursday in the final examination period.

2. The Examining Committee: The oral examination will be conducted by a committee of at least two members, including the group's advisor, and the Research Coordinator(s).

3. Attendance at Examination: All members of the college community are invited to the EPAD capstone oral examination.  All students concentrating in physics are strongly urged to attend.

4. Subject Matter of Examination: The oral examination is designed to test both the students’ ability to defend the conclusions and procedures of their report and their knowledge of the current state of research on relevant topics of a similar nature.

5. Format of Examination: At the beginning of the examination, the research group will give an oral presentation of their project (typically 40-45 minutes). Each group member must participate in the presentation, and the presentation time should be divided roughly equally between all the group members. Questioning will proceed in whatever fashion is agreed upon by the examining committee.

Final Group Report Submission

1. It is the final responsibility of the students to to see that the Physics Department has one acid-free copy of the group report for the permanent collections of the Physics Department.

2. The Physics Department also requires the groups to submit an electronic version of the final report. This must be a single file in PDF format, emailed to Ellie Wilkinsom (evwilk@wm.edu) by noon Wednesday of the second week of examinations.