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UC’s 2021 IT&S Capstone Expo emphasises strong ties with industry

Suzanne Lazaroo

22 June 2021: Students who created an online assessment tool to help elderly people remain in their own homes for longer – while enjoying improved quality of life – took top spot at this year’s IT&S Capstone Expo at the University of Canberra.

Other student teams proposed a wireless sensor network solution for the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, reviewed ICT-based interventions for the homeless in the ACT, and designed and developed procedures for fingerprint quality evaluation.

The Capstone Expo is the culmination of semester-long projects for undergraduate and postgraduate students at the School of Information Technology and Systems, part of the University’s Faculty of Science and Technology.

For their projects, students create solutions for industry partners and University academics or solve complex real world questions. They get hands-on experience and industry mentorship, and build relevant skills so that they graduate ready for the job market, the world, and the future.

They then present their projects to supervisors and project sponsors, with the top groups invited to present at the expo.

“The Capstone units demonstrate UC’s strong commitment to close industry collaboration and engagement,” said Capstone organiser, Assistant Professor in Information Systems Dr Ahmed Imran.

“They form an important bridge between students and industry, and we really appreciate the time and insights sponsors provide for the students, who get hands-on experience with industry clients.

“The students presented some very interesting projects, and we received a lot of industry interest for future collaboration and sponsorship.”

This event also included students from the Wireless Networks unit for the first time.

This semester, 11 teams took part in the Capstone Expo, with eight presenting onstage and creating posters, and three groups creating only posters. Four teams also ran project demonstrations. Every finalist received certificates, while the winners also received trophies.

Dylan Quarmby, Michael Muirden, Patricia Nguyen and Alexander Adams joined forces to create an online assessment tool for home care services provider Hope Holistic Care (HHC). Their project saw them clinching this years’ new Capstone category, Best Overall Project, as well as being deemed Best Demonstration.

Leveraging on open source software, the team created a tool to help HHC interview clients and assess the kind of support they need in home care, taking into account aspects like social lives and physical status, spirituality, mental health and medical requirements.

“We wanted a platform to naturalise the process of doing aged care assessments,” said Ben Lau, Hope Holistic Care project liaison.

“The project was an exploratory exercise to see if natural human conversations could be captured digitally, and somehow retain the context required to fully understand the meaning behind the data.”

“We created a tool that was flexible and intuitive, allowing for open-ended questions and multiple types of responses to ensure the capture of high quality data,” said Mr Quarmby.

This approach means that assessors are able to capture more nuanced responses, to provide a better picture of clients’ needs.

“In the aged care industry, context largely determines whether the services delivered will improve the quality of life for older people,” Mr Lau said. “While we concluded the technology is still not readily available, the team’s solution lays a very good foundation for HHC to further build on.”

Crucially, the entire system is encrypted, to protect personal data.

Mr Quarmby said that ultimately, the team learned a lot from the Capstone project.

“Ascertaining project requirements, avoiding feature creep, work within a team to meet a strict deadline, communicating with stakeholders, remote collaboration, time management, technical skills for web interfaces and system integration – these were just some of the lessons learned,” he said.

“This project is a great opportunity to get industry experience and network to turn your degree into a job.”

Andrew Anderson and Aran Dean won in the Best Poster category, for their Hyperscalers Enterprise Dashboard Application.

A solution created for Hyperscalers, an Australian Open Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) which provides cloud and hardware services for enterprise, the project demonstrated that it was possible to implement a pull-based configuration to integrate all layers of the Server-an-an-Appliance stack.

Michael Roberts and Jason Wood received the Best Presentation trophy for their Human Machine Interaction Study, which aimed to evaluate perceived role taking with robots.

The team prototyped a system and prepared the Nao robot for a study in which participants were interviewed by a human, or one of three different robots, with each interaction assessed.

The judging panel comprised Dan Kent, Senior Security Consultant from cyber security experts Aegis9, Professor of Affective Computing Dr Roland Goecke, and Faculty of Science and Technology Manager Nick Ketley.

“The Capstone Expo goes from strength to strength and seems to be getting bigger and better every semester!” Dr Goecke said. “Every semester, I am amazed by the quality of the projects on display at the School of IT&S Capstone Project Expo – this semester was no different with a neck-and-neck race between the top three projects.

“The expo is a wonderful opportunity for our graduating students to showcase their project outcomes to the project sponsors, academics, fellow students and the general public.

“It is always good to see how our students connect with industry partners, which often leads to employment after graduating.”

This semester, the projects came from the following industry partners:

  • NSW charity Hope Holistic Care
  • Next gen infrastructure provider HyperScalers
  • Photographic timelapse systems developer Infinity Imaging
  • Occupational health provider Miller Health Pty Ltd
  • Digital engagement consultants Vendome Consulting
  • Policy think tank Fair Canberra
  • The National Archives of Australia
  • Data migration specialists Logical Analysis