FAQs

Here are some answers to questions you may have about this Capstone course plan:

  1. How should I form my team?

    You have total freedom, and responsibility, to form your own teams. (They should be between 2-4 people.) There will be a chance to get to know other students in the first class meeting, but we encourage you to seek out fellow students ahead of time and begin to talk about possible projects that you might want to work on together because the quarter moves very quickly.

  2. How can I select a project topic?

    We will suggest a list of possible project topics, but you may also come up with project ideas on your own. In this course, you are charged with figuring out what problem you want to solve AND solving it. There will be projects sponsored by “clients” for you to choose from also. These clients could be instructors, other groups in the UW community, or external companies or non-profits.

  3. Can I work by myself on my capstone project?

    The course assignments are structured assuming a team project and we strongly encourage people to work in teams of 2-4. If, however, you are in an extenuating circumstance where you truly feel that working alone is the best option, please submit a request to the instructors including your reasons for needing to work alone, and we will consider it. If your request to work alone is approved, please make sure you understand the following:

    1. You will still need to complete all aspects of the capstone deliverables by yourself. We will not provide any reduced workload for individuals working alone.
    2. The final deliverables will be graded according to their quality, and again, should be comparable to work done by a team.
    3. By working alone, you are forfeiting a huge benefit of having other people to share ideas and provide feedback, which can degrade the quality of your overall project. There will be time in class for getting feedback from your peers, but that time will likely be more limited than you would get from working in a group.
  4. Can I have collaborators from outside of HCDE on my team?

    Yes. If you have colleagues in other departments who would like to work with you on a project, by all means enlist them on your team. Ideally, they should be able to attend all of the course meetings with you, as there will be time in class for working together, peer reviews, and critique sessions.

  5. What is the final exhibit? How public is it?

    The final exhibit will be a poster session with invited guests of the HCDE department, including members of the HCDE CAP (Corporate Affiliates Program) group. You must be at the exhibit to answer questions from the guests about your project interactively (not in a formal presentation). This exhibit will be part of the annual HCDE Open House, and will be held in the new HCDE Design Lab.

  6. What if a sponsor wants to keep the results of the project confidential?

    If a sponsor wants to keep the details of a project confidential for business reasons, this complicates your task, but it is not impossible to manage. Here are some guidelines for this situation:

    1. The sponsor will make it clear that it is necessary to keep the project confidential until the company gives the okay, including your ability to use the results in your portfolio.
    2. The student team must still able to present the project at the final exhibit and during class presentations. If that means working with the company to design the slides and the poster in such a way that it does not give out the details of the project, then that is okay. However, if it’s obfuscated so much that it becomes difficult to know what the project is even about, then that would be problematic.
  7. What is required for the final deliverable?

    The format of the final deliverable will be up to the team to specify, with instructor approval during the planning process at the beginning of the course. The reason for this is that a wide range of project types is possible (research, design, evaluations, etc.). Projects will have a different kind of result depending on the topic (written paper, design specification or prototype, usability study, etc.). Regardless of the project, we strongly suggest that each team create a website or other online repository as a part of its final deliverable.

  8. Why are there three unspecified intermediate project milestones?

    As with the final deliverable, intermediate milestones are highly dependent on the type of project. Each team is responsible for making a good project plan, and defining milestones that allow progress to be assessed along the way. The goal is to effectively manage the work load during the project. You will define the criteria for assessment, with some basic guidelines that the instructors establish.

  9. How will the class meetings be structured? Will there be time for group work in class?

    This course is based on a studio model of instruction. Class meetings will be a mixture of group work time, critique and feedback sessions, and some limited guest speakers. There will not be lectures, per se, in class, but there will be frequent group discussions.

  10. Who will be involved in the midterm critique session?

    We will invite HCDE and other faculty colleagues to participate, and hope to have many of the external sponsors attend also for an interim check on teams’ progress.

  11. What roles do the instructors and TA play?

    Because capstone is student-led in nature, the role of the instructors and TA is different than in a traditional course. There is no new specific content in this course, so we are not in a role to lecture or manage you. Instead, we will help you get resources when you need them, offer advice when you ask, provide feedback when you want it, and assess the quality of the work you complete at the end of the quarter.

    That being said, if there is something that you’d like one of us to teach you, we’re happy to do so if you ask. We do anticipate having a few outside lecturers provide advice on aspects related to the class, such as creating portfolios, posters, and working with companies. In short, capstone is a chance for you to make the most out of your experience in the HCDE program, show off what you can do, and get guidance along the way.

  12. What is your responsibility as a student?

    Our role is to assess and help you find resources, and your responsibility in this class is to plan, execute, collaborate, coordinate, write, present, and communicate. It’s also up to you to define success in this course, what your major deliverables will be, and find a path to completing those deliverables according to your criteria for success. All of your work in the class will culminate in your final deliverable, poster session, and in-class final presentations, where you’ll present the outcomes of your work to both your classmates and a broader set of industry and academic partners.