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Agile Methodologies for Hardware/Software Teams for a Capstone Design Course: Lessons Learned

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

SE Capstone Design Projects, Part I

Tagged Divisions

Systems Engineering and Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.151.1 - 22.151.13



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Paper Authors


Richard Stansbury Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach

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Richard S. Stansbury is an assistant professor of computer science and computer engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL. He instructs the capstone senior design course for computer and software engineering. His current research interests include unmanned aircraft, certification issues for unmanned aircraft, mobile robotics, and applied artificial intelligence.

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Massood Towhidnejad Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach

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Massood Towhidnejad is a tenure full professor of software engineering in the department of Electrical, Computer, Software and System Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. His teaching interests include artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, and software engineering with emphasis on software quality assurance and testing. He has been involved in research activities in the areas of software engineering, software quality assurance and testing, autonomous systems, and human factors.

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Jayson F. Clifford

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Jayson Clifford is a Research Associate at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He has worked on a number of projects involving the development of unmanned vehicle systems and software processes for small teams.

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Michael P. Dop Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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Michael Dop is a Graduate Student in the Accelerated five-year B.S./M.S.E. in Software Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. His interests are in unmanned systems.

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Agile Methodologies for Hardware / Software Teams for a Capstone Design Course: Lessons LearnedAbstract:Agile methodologies provide an alternative to more rigorous engineering design processesthrough iterative design and development. An engineering design process guides a team throughthe development of a product or products from inception to delivery based on customer needs.Software and systems engineering communities have defined a large number of processes thatcan be characterized by process models such as the waterfall model, v-model, spiral model, etc.These process models include large monolithic requirements and design activities with feedbackloops, and implementations such as the Team Software Process produce a significant level ofoverhead for students. Unfortunately, during a capstone design project in which students areworking with new tools, programming languages, multidisciplinary domains, etc., they oftenencounter set backs, requirements changes, and design changes because they are learning.There are a variety of agile methodologies that exist within the software engineering communitysuch as Crystal Clear, Extreme Programming, Scrum, etc. The Agile Manifesto emphasizesfrequent and rapid delivery of working prototypes of the system to the customer that areiteratively refined and developed. The teams define the specifics of their own design processbased on the guidance of the agile methodology selected with the anticipation that it will berevised periodically based on the team’s experience on the project. Since the team designates theprocess (with some input from the team’s manager), the overhead required can be significantlyreduced.At Anonymous University, the Crystal Clear agile process methodology has been utilized for thepast four years as part of its capstone senior design course for computer and softwareengineering students. Over that time, the course makeup has shifted from being over 75%software engineering to only 50%. As a result, these methodologies, which were developed forsoftware teams have been adapted to accommodate both hardware and software design elements.The size of the team has also changed resulting in additional lessons learned regarding thescalability of the process.This paper shall discuss in greater detail:  A literature review of agile and non-agile software and systems engineering processes.  A detailed overview of how the Crystal Clear methodology has been adapted at ERAU.  Provide case studies of agile vs. TSP based capstone design projects including metrics analyzing team performance.  Discuss lessons learned based on case study courses.  Provide recommendation for instructors considering the application of agile processes to their discipline.

Stansbury, R., & Towhidnejad, M., & Clifford, J. F., & Dop, M. P. (2011, June), Agile Methodologies for Hardware/Software Teams for a Capstone Design Course: Lessons Learned Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17432

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