BEAT: Branding and Entrepreneurship of Assistive Technology for Social Good

Extending the CCNY Joint Senior Design Program on Assistive Technology Across School Boundaries

CSc 59866/59867 Capstone I/II (Section 1CD) Fall 2019 – Spring 2020
CS/CpE/EE Joint Senior Design + BIC Independent Work

Congratulations to Class 2020!


Joint Senior Design Technical Instructors:

Branding and Entrepreneurial Instructors:

  • Gerardo A Blumenkrantz, Associate Professor, Branding + Integrated Communications (BIC) Creative Track Director
  • Devin Voorsanger, Managing Director, Zahn Innovation Center
  • Katherine Olives, Program Manager, Zahn Innovation Center
  • Nancy R. Tag, Program Director, Branding + Integrated Communications (BIC) Program, CCNY
  • Marlene Leo, Specialist, Branding + Integrated Communications (BIC) Program, CCNY

Community Partners:

Program Description

In the past Eight years, we have been developing a cross-department joint senior design course for undergraduate seniors majoring in Computer Science (CS), Computer Engineering (CpE) and Electrical Engineering (EE) in the Grove School of Engineering (GSOE) at the City College of New York in exploring and developing assistive technologies for smart living of all. The joint senior design program builds on our existing the six-credit capstone/senior design course structure in CS and EE, but with a new concentration on assistive technologies for people in need. In the past eight years, over 180 students have graduated from our joint program. However, our STEM students lack a more systematic approach on how to successfully communicate with the users, investors, stakeholders and community partners to really make their breakthrough work ACTIONABLE. Additionally, their lack of entrepreneurship skills and enthusiasm hinder them from turning their brilliant ideas into reality. THEREFORE we will to tap into CCNY’s resources (BIC program and the Zahn Center) teach them useful and practical the branding, storytelling and entrepreneurship skills they need.

Entering the ninth year of the joint program, we are inspired by the Campus Engagement Network (CEN), in terms of creative designs, cross-school collaboration, and community involvement. Supported by the course innovation grant from Moxie Foundation, we at the Grove School of Engineering work with the Branding + Integrated Communications (BIC) Creative Track in the Media and Communication Department and Zahn Innovation Center to push our Assistive Technology program to a new level. This will be a collaboration across school board, and the common theme for the three parties – GSOE, BIC and Zahn will be the promotion of social good.

Capstone I Course Syllabus Fall 2019

(Fall 2019 academic calendar)
Capstone I Class Meet Time & Location: Monday 11:00AM – 01:30PM Room: NAC 6/268
Office Hours: Thursday 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Room: NAC 8/211

  • Week 1 (09/05 TH). (1) Introduction (Zhu). (2) CREATE Opportunities (Brian Bateman, Marketing Manager of NYSID) . [ Work Lunch Provided]
  • Week 2 (09/09). Past project showcases and project design brainstorming (slides). Assignment 1. Please submit a 1-page resume with your intention for a project topic and teaming. Email to Professor Zhigang Zhu at Due on 09/22(Sunday)
  • Week 3 (09/16). A entrepreneurial seminar (Voorsanger) on entrepreneurship and Zahn Center competitions. Please read these articles (1) “The logical gateways” (2) “What is your problem?“, and review this deck prior to the class.
  • Week 4 (09/23). We will visit a Goodwill site at 2196 5th Avenue in Harlem. Besides their ASD programs Goodwill is also running programs for people with intellectual disabilities (ID/DD)and serve a few people with physical disabilities, visual impairments, and hearing loss in these programs. We will meet at our classroom at 11 am and walk there together from the classroom around 11:30 am; if you cannot come to the class on time go there directly. We shall arrive Goodwill around noon (12:00pm) and finish the visit around 1:00 pm. Assignment 2. Team Wiki page creating, proposal quad chart (template) and team entrepreneurial (E)-enhanced proposal writing. (1) For access the wiki page, please create an account using your ccny email. Then check your email (incl. your spam folder) to confirm before you come back to login. (2) Please consider the Zahn Center competition instruction as well as the CREATE instruction in writing your E-enhanced proposal ( 3 – 5 pages). Detailed Instructions for the CREATE Proposal can be found here. (3) Please submit your quad chart to and write the E-enhanced proposal (a quick draft would be okay) as a separate page link to your wiki page. Due on 10/15 (Tuesday)
  • Week 5 (10/07). (1) Project proposal development and revision. Please do check online for literature and existing patents that have similar ideas of your projects (2) Technical seminar: human and machine perception (Prof. Zhigang Zhu)
  • Week 6 (10/16). A BIC seminar on branding (Blumenkrantz). Assignment 3. (1) Team BIC-enhanced proposal (by revising your E-enhanced proposal with an abstract in the ABT formula of And..But…Therfore) in your wiki page, (2) your revised quad chart [ considering ABT, a theme picture, formats (fonts, colors), and a tentative logo] , (3) your presentation slides [including a title slide, “A” slides, “B” slides, “T” slides, a summary slide using the quad chart, budget slide]. (4) While you are working on them, please also fill the BIC Logo Design Brief. Here are two samples [1], [2] for your reference. Please also send (2) (3) and (4) to Prof. Zhu via email at Due 10/24 (Thursday midnight).
  • Week 7 (10/21). BAT teams of the CS/CpE/EE students develop your Logo Design Briefs for their proposed projects and branding – targeting to CREATE, Zahn, or VentureWell Competitions.
  • Week 8 (10/28). Invited community partners from Goodwill/Lighthouse Guild/Zahn etc as judges for customer discovery and team proposal presentations (Zahn – mandatory for all; CREATE – selective up to four teams; VentureWell – recommendation, up to two teams) [ Work Lunch]
  • Week 9 (11/04). BAT teams revise their proposals for submitting to CREATE, Zahn and VentureWell competitions . Assignment 4. Team proposal submissions to CREATE/Zahn/etc. Due on their deadlines (Zahn by 11/10 Sunday midnight to Zahn – Extended to Sunday, December 1st at 11:59PM; Please use this extra time to visit the Zahn Center & speak with staff about your application (Monday, Wednesday & Friday 9:30AM-4:30PM; Tuesday & Thursday 11:00AM-7:00PM). Send the application and the proof in a PDF via email to CREATE proposal in docx by 11/12 Tuesday midnight to Prof. Zhu, and I will give you feedback for a revision due 11/19 for me to submit before 11/22)
  • Week 10 (11/11). Technical seminar: machine vision: feature extraction (Slides | Lecture Notes by Zhu). Assignment 5. Vision questions on feature extraction. Due on 11/17
  • Week 11 (11/18). Technical seminar: machine vision: stereo and motion (Slides | Lecture Notes on Stereo and Motion by Zhu) . Assignment 6. Vision questions on stereo and motion Due on 11/24
  • Week 12 (11/25). Brianstorming and project idea development and revision. Zahn proposals by Sunday, December 1st at 11:59PM; After your submission at Zahn, send Professor Zhu the application contents and the proof in a PDF via email to by the end of Dec 1 (the same day). This is part of the Assignment 4.
  • Week 13 (12/02). Team presentations on their project designs and branding. Assignment 7. Final BEAT-proposals on your wiki pages. Due on 12/08 (Sunday). Grading So Far without A#4 (part) and A#7.
  • Week 14 (12/09). Team evaluation wrap-up. (1) A mandatory application to the Zahn program with invitation into the competition will get 15%/N bonus points for the semester (depending on the number of the teams invited, N). (2) Teams recommended and then selected for the CREATE projects will get 5% bonus points for the semester.   [ Work Lunch ] Each team please prepare your poster and bring it to class. We will evaluate the four categories: Branding (names, logos, designs etc), Entrepreneurship (customer discovery, market segment, business models etc), Assistive (social impact, user feedback, etc), and Technology (tools, systems, algorithms, etc). Final Grading will be submitted by the end of Thursday December 26, 2019

Capstone II Course Syllabus Spring 2020

(Spring 2020 academic calendar)
Capstone II Class Meet Time & Location: Monday 11:00AM – 01:30PM Room: NAC 6/214
Office Hours: Wednesdays 4:00 – 5:30 pm (
Online meeting Zoom Link or by appointments – see below), Room: NAC 8/211

(1) Spring class schedule will be aligned with the Zahn schedule considering CREATE/VentureWell timelines. The number of interviews are for Zahn accepted teams but CREATE and VentureWell teams can use as references – use your best judgement to do what are important please. After the first class on 1/27/2020 (Monday), the class will meet biweekly to update what each team has done in the past two weeks (the other weeks will be used as individual meetings for teams by appointments), but each team please update your wiki logs weekly (2) Branding updates: Hopefully BIC students can provide monthly feedback (via meetings or postings) with CS/CpE/EE teams for developing their video, demos and materials for the Zahn/CREATE/VentureWell presentations. (3) Invited community partners from Goodwill and other institutions, BIC faculty and Zahn Center staff will come in class to act as judges for project presentations; we plan two such class meets. (4) Note that CCNY will enter the recalibration period 03/27 – 04/01 and distance learning will resume on 04/02, and The spring break will be cut short to three days from 04/08 to 04/10. But this will not affect our original schedule since we don’t have particularly schedule during these two weeks. However and we will start to use Zoom on 04/06 (a Google calendar reminder with the meeting link has sent to every student. Please let me know if you haven’t received it).

  • 1/27/2020. First class of Spring 2020. Kick-off meeting: Schedule and Team Quick Updates.
  • Weeks 1 – 2. Value trend identifications (what they want): 10-50 interviews over the course of two weeks to identify trends of values their customer wants to solve their problem. Class Meet on 02/10/2020 for team updates.
  • Weeks 3-4. (1) Feature trend identification (how they want them): 10-50 interviews over the course of two weeks to identify trends in features needed to deliver this value to the customer. (2) Use cased defined: at the end of week 4 a use case presentation to the class explaining how their customer would use what they are designing and a looks like prototype demonstration. Grading So Far. Class Meet on 02/24/2020 for team updates.
  • Weeks 5-6. Looks like prototype (What you may deliver): 10-50 interviews over the course of two weeks to identify customers input trends on their “looks like” prototype. Grading So Far. Class Meet on 03/09/2020 for team updates.
  • Weeks 7-8. Acts like prototype (How they like it) – 10-50 interviews over the course of two weeks to identify customer input trends on their “acts like” prototype. Class Meet on 03/23/2020 for presentations to judges and class for feedback (ORAL PRESENTATIONS) [ online meeting]. Grading So Far. (Clicking Reload on your browser if you don’t see changes). Note that the wiki logos and the final report will be 20% each, while the Mid-Term and Final Evaluation will be 30% each. We also remove the bonus for AT Expo for now. The Mid-Term Evaluation feedback can be found on the wiki page.
  • Weeks 9-12. Agile development sprint (Real work begins)- four agile development sprints with 10 interviews per sprint. (1) 04/06/2020. Team presentations for responding the mid-term evaluation. Please list in your weekly log the main concerns the evaluators had, and address them in your April 6 presentation with (a) List of concerns (b) Your itemized responses (rebuttal, proposed improvement, etc.). Use the comparison of Before and After to make your points. (2) 04/20/2020. CREATE Symposium in Albany (Cancelled due to COVID-19). All teams we will meet on 04/20 over Zoom – and I will go over with each team in Breakout Rooms after I give some overall guidelines for the the final reports and presentations in Weeks 13-14. Grading So Far. (Clicking Reload on your browser if you don’t see changes).
  • Week 13-14. Warping Up All! (pretty much what you have) – (1) 05/04/2020: A dry run for all the teams on your final presentations – Please have your Slides and Videos ready! Grading So Far. (Clicking Reload on your browser if you don’t see changes). (2) 05/11/2020. Reporting and Final Class Gathering (Virtual “Poster” PRESENTATIONS: we will ask evaluators to “go” to your Breakout Rooms for virtual poster sessions. Each team shall expect multiple visits to your room). Evaluation Forms [PDF] [Word] (click Reload for the updated forms). (3) Final Project Report Requirements can be found here (click Reload for the updated instructions). Note you have to emphasize all the four aspects (B.E.A.T.) in both your presentation and report/video. Please upload your report and and slides, and provide the link to your video on your wiki page by the end of Sunday May 17, 2020. (4) Course Survey (counting for 5% to the final if you submit regardless what are your answers)
  • 05/26/2020. Final Grading (UPDATED, click reload if you don’t see changes) will be submitted by the end of Wednesday 05/27/2020. Have a Great Summer!

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