Leading Senior Design

A little over seven months ago I joined a team of four other undergraduates to develop  a product for our ABET required senior project. Our task was to develop an embedded system that would link the API for a mobile parking payment processing system to barrier gate controller installed at a parking facility. As my last semester comes to a close, so does this yearlong project. While it has been frustrating at times, I consider it one of the more valuable learning experience to top off my undergraduate education. The experience has taught me a number of valuable technical skills such as PCB design and the value of good documentation which otherwise would not have been covered by my coursework. More importantly though, I learned how to lead a team to develop a complex system into a viable product. It’s because of these reasons that I value senior design.

Early on I took a leadership role in the project taking charge of calling meetings, making high level design decisions, laying down engineering requirements, and delegating tasks to other members. I looked through and touched up all our presentations to ensure that our project could be viewed in the best possible light. In later stages, I made sure to involve myself with every module’s development and verify that everything was progressing in the right direction. It was a point of mine to have a fundamental understanding of how each block worked even if it wasn’t my responsibility set forth by the team contracts. I would ask questions to make sure I knew what was going on or if I felt that something wasn’t right and needed to be addressed. In a way, I took ownership of this project and I wanted to see it through to success or failure.

Sure at times I felt overworked for picking up the slack for others and doing things I didn’t have to do, but in the end I enjoyed every bit of it. The way I saw it, I was learning something that can’t be taught in a classroom and anyone who wasn’t participating in that was missing out. There wasn’t anything else in the world I’d rather be doing then either trying to get something to work or figuring out what’s wrong. If I wasn’t sure already, senior design confirmed my love for engineering.

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