This year the ECE Senior Handbook Project has a new look.  We updated ourselves to reflect the trends in industry to share technical information about new products and technologies through a focused technical summary.  The technical note, or tech note (TN) for short, is a succinct article that focuses on a particular topic sharing the most relevant information to garner a reader’s interest.  The reader has the vast reaches of the web and the authoritative scholarly literature to pursue and investigate the topic to satisfy their own curiosity.

The topics for the tech notes of 2016 are drawn from the Senior Capstone project in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE).  They reflect the subject matter that attracted the students to their senior Capstone project in the first place.  While some are rich in detail, other TNs are less so.  The less in detail for some is intentional, as several of the projects involve proprietary technologies.  Disclosure of some aspects of the project would impact the U.S. Patent Office submissions filed during the Spring semester.  We hope to update these TNs in the future.

The learning objectives of this assignment are articulation and expression. The ability to communicate to a broad audience is paramount in the technical disciplines. Information and its distribution is the engine that promotes innovation.  The production of the TNs is not a simple process. Iteration and reflection on failure occur more than one would like in writing and polishing the final note.  Most important, the publication of written, imagery, audio, and video elements involve meeting publication standards, gaining approval of the project editors, meeting deadlines, and making sure the copyright and intellectual property of others has not been violated.  The legal consideration of publishing information on the web must be followed.  The senior ECE students learn these standards by doing.

The Handbook, and now the TNs, is a living set of topics, articles, and connections.  Now, in Spring 2016, the TNs continue the four themes from previous years:  design process, management, technologies, and communications and life skills.  The seniors write on these topics to communicate how the topics impacted them, their classmates, and on society

The Senior Handbook Project—the Tech Notes—did not just happen. The magic behind the moment is a combination of the efforts of many people.  An energetic thank you to David Grogan (Senior Solutions Specialist) at Tufts Technical Services for his help with the web site end of things and Kristina Aikens (Associate Director – Writing Resources) at the Tufts Academic Resources Center for her help with making connections to the writing consultants—graduate students—for review and editorial assistance. Most important, a very personal thank you and recognition to Karen Vagts (Engineering Research Librarian) at Tisch Library and co-Editor of this site.  I have written previously “She is phenomenal with the students in the classroom, meeting with them at the library, providing mentorship and guidance throughout the entire process, beginning in September and ending in May.  She is awesome putting this site together and maintaining it.  And most important, for her creativity and innovation, her willingness to task risks in all aspects of this endeavor.  This has made all the difference.”  Yet, this does not say it all.  She plans the site during the Summer before the academic year, lectures in several of the Senior Design class sessions during the Fall and Spring semesters on such topics as editorial process, copyrights and plagiarism, elements of style and standards, and the technology of publishing on the web.  Karen spends a vast number of hours reading, proofing, emailing, commenting, and supplying feedback. Her work and her contribution are recognized not just by me, but also by the students. They value her as a teacher, a mentor, and a friend.  And this is what makes this project happen. As without such a tight relationship and bond, the students would not glean the import or the relevance of this assignment on the day it is assigned.  Thank you Karen—for everything you have taught the students and taught me.

For the reader:  we hope you enjoy learning about what we have learned over this last year.  And, it takes you to places that we never imagined.

Ron Lasser
Professor of the Practice
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Tufts University
Spring 2016