After a short three years, many seniors at Penn begin their senior project, whether it is an engineering design project, a thesis (most often in the College), or a capstone (Wharton students). The senior project is the culmination of the skills and knowledge students have built up over time, and students have the freedom to explore whatever area of their field they are most interested in. This time of year, many of my friends are working towards thesis deadlines or testing their projects.
Nursing students have a unique experience from other schools; they participate in a leadership clinical, which includes twenty-four hours a week of in-person hospital or clinic work in addition to six hours of lecture per week. It is similar to the capstone experience for other schools, and students get to try a unit that they want to pursue a specialty in, such as the ICU.
For myself, a computer science major, I am working with three of my friends who are also CIS majors to create a senior design project. Each engineering major has a different class for senior design, but they each also have the opportunity to work on an interdisciplinary project across majors. For computer science, the class has loose guidelines and milestones for us to meet to stay on track with presenting a final deliverable, but I have really appreciated how much freedom we have had in the design process and creating our project.
We decided to work on a project that could potentially benefit the Philadelphia community we’ve been lucky enough to be a part of for the past four years. We are creating “Ants,” a social media platform for non-profit and activist organizations to connect with volunteers and spread the word about events, fundraisers, or protests they are holding. We hope to help these organizations get more traction and mobilize efforts in one place.
Another part of senior design I’ve particularly enjoyed has been testing out the other project teams’ products. I have been super inspired by the range and talent of the projects others are working on, and we all gave feedback to at least five other teams’ projects. Launching projects outside of the class isn’t part of our grade, but many projects in the past have gone on to have users outside of the class; my team and I are hoping to present our project to the center at Penn that works with volunteer organizations to get feedback and see if they would be interested in adapting it for their use.
The semester will end with a demo day where we all present our work to the professors and community members as well as the other teams. Usually, this is a day that is done in person, but we’ll be holding Zoom presentations instead this year. Despite the virtual class, I feel fortunate that we’ve still been able to get so much out of the senior design experience, and it feels like the perfect opportunity to cap off four years of hard work at Penn and showcase the project we’ve spent our senior year working on!