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Capstone Project Expo showcases student projects to industry

Libby Roberts

14 November 2019: Students at the University of Canberra’s School of Information Technology and Systems (IT&S) showcased their projects to industry at the IT&S Capstone Project Expo in late October.

Throughout Semester Two, both undergraduates and postgraduates at IT&S, which is part of the Faculty of Science and Technology, work on complex industry or real-world projects. These projects give them hands-on experience and skills to make them “job ready, world ready and future ready”.

Assistant Professor in Information Systems Dr Ahmed Imran said that this semester’s event was revamped from previous years to include trophies and certificates for the winners and finalists.

“Selected projects were divided into three categories; presentation, poster and demonstrations, with the best from each category receiving a faculty trophy,” Assistant Professor Imran said.

“Our judges came from diverse backgrounds and included Jeff Michell from Digital Matrix, Mirela Ramic from the Australian Computer Society, Stefan Alexander from Careers UC, Associate Professor Dr Rhonda Wilson from the Faculty of Health, Head of the School of IT&S Dr Wanli Ma and myself.

“The students’ work was highly appreciated by industry representatives, many of whom showed keen interest to engage more in sponsorship and collaboration.”

Earlier in the week, students presented their projects to supervisors and the project sponsor, with the top groups then invited to present to industry guests at the expo.

Undergraduates Bradie Robinson and Anania Esayas won for Best Presentation on the day with their Steel Defect Detection project which uses computer vision to detect defects and rust in steel – a result that surprised them.

“The rust wasn’t a planned deliverable. We worked so hard at the start that we managed to finish the steel defect, and then thought about how we could make this more practical,” said Mr Robinson.

“Our plan over summer is to integrate it with an iOS and Android platform and make further improvements. The best outcome would be if there is a company who is keen on this type of technology to pick it up – that would be something,” Mr Esayas said.

When it comes to advice on presenting in front of industry, their secret was to think about who they were presenting too.

“I think what helped us was that we changed our presentation to suit the audience. Our original one in the class was a lot more technical, but we thought that industry would want to know more of the outcome of the project,” said Mr Robinson.

Both were very grateful to their supervisor Associate Professor Dr Dat Tran, who helped them throughout the semester. Since the event, they have had industry guests who attended message them over LinkedIn.

Winner of the Best Demonstration award, postgraduate student Wenhao Fu created a Hazard Report App for universities, to help raise awareness of risk management after experiencing a fire at his university in Shanghai.

“My project is aimed to help make campus a safer place by reporting hazards in real-time, using a smartphone app,” Mr Fu said.

“My favourite part was designing the reporting flow and user interface. I tried my best to make the flow simple and efficient, using Sketch to draw the interface before coding it. As a result, it is easy to use, and the interface is cool!”

Mr Fu also appreciated learning about the other outstanding projects from his peers.

Winners of the Best Poster categorty were undergraduates Michael Burbidge and James Cribb with their project “Using Machine Learning to Detect Diabetic Retinopathy”. They hope that it will one day be used to help optometric professionals make diagnoses.

“We had two main motivations for selecting this project: we wanted to gain experience in developing machine learning models, and it has major real-world application, with the potential to improve the lives of thousands of people, particularly in developing countries where access to optometric services is limited,” Mr Burbidge said.  

“I was a bit surprised when we won, but it was good to know that people from the industry liked what we had done. I enjoyed interacting with all the different industry members, as well as seeing what the other students had been doing.”

The IT&S Capstone Project Expo welcomed over 40 industry guests at the event, all representing different areas of technology.