Introduction and Acknowledgements

This year the ECE Senior Handbook Project continues the adventure to keep pace with how industry disseminates interesting and time worthy information.  We share technical information about the research and technologies our students are working on 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 2017 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 or proprietary information from industry who sponsored the project.  We hope you enjoy reading what our ECE seniors learned about and gain some insight into their Capstone projects and the working prototypes they designed and delivered to their customers.

The learning objectives of this assignment are articulation and expression to a non-technical audience. 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 2017 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 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 special thank you and recognition to Erica Schattle (Interim Team Lead for Sciences, Social Sciences & Engineering) and Nicole Nawalaniec (Science Reference Librarian) at Tisch Library.  Erica and Nicole worked with the ECE seniors to teach them about the research tools with the objective to find appropriate authoritative sources in professional and scholarly databases. They prepared classroom lectures to instruct the students on research techniques, intellectual property and copyright infringement, proper citation of authored works, and publishing protocols. Lastly, and most importantly, they met with students one-on-one to provide specific assistance on some interesting matters. Erica and Nicole jumped into the breach on this effort after personal changes left the students and myself without librarian support. The never missed a beat. Their lectures were well prepared. Their in-class activities made the learning objectives tangible and real.

A special thank you to David Grogan (Senior Solutions Specialist) at Tufts Technical Services for his help with the web site end of things. He has been an invaluable asset to all of us. While providing the technical support for all the computer education apps, he goes beyond getting “under the hood” of the technology and making the tools all work as they were meant to do, and getting them to work as we want them to. He spent countless hours working to understand our goals and objectives, and then proposed solutions that were better than our own conceptions. Further, he worked with us in the trenches to realize the limitations of the existing tools and search for ones that we required. He helped us work out the kinks with the Box site. He was always on call, answered our distress signals, and educated us on the idiosyncrasies of cyberspace. And he built the handbook site for this year’s pages from all the different items that were provided by the ECE seniors and myself. I cannot thank him enough.

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 2017