What to Expect
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As far as what a student group will be doing, or would like to do, varies based upon the comfort level of each sponsor/business. Initially, the group would like to complete a visual inspection of the site to ascertain a general floor plan and synopsis of the IT equipment in place. This is usually 30 minutes to 1 hour, and the students present their findings to a collected group of Faculty to help us determine the Feasibility of the selected site.

The next visit in about a month's time, the group would like to administer a brief 1-2 page survey either electronically on-line or via traditional hard copy. Developing a meaningful survey is a challenging task, one that is well scrutinized internally before being released to the business. The purpose of the survey is to determine if the present needs of the clients are met, with respect to the functional requirements/capabilities of a given Network or portion thereof. On-line surveys are preferred and can be easily managed and administered, paper surveys are left with a key contact for 4-5 days then later collected by a student group member.

The project next requires that the students do a Network Analysis, that is, to sample the actual network traffic traversing the network lines. This is to see if there are any potential network problems or issues that could/should be investigated, but is perhaps one of the most meaningful and valuable educational experiences this program provides the students. Such an analysis, called "Sniffing" can sometimes be met with concern from some of the sponsors, due to obvious security issues. That being said, the system used to sniff the network is configured by Faculty at St. Clair College and only packet information (number of packets/frames sent across the network, types of protocols, etc.), not data is analyzed by the students. Company data contained in such packets/traffic is not referenced in any way. To help our sponsors better understand our commitment to their security, all students have signed Confidentiality Agreements, which can be seen by selecting the preceding link. Providing students with the opportunity to analyze network traffic at a sponsor's site is not a necessity, nor a requirement to participate in this program, but is a preferred component of the course.

During the semester, there needs to be one individual acting as a main contact (key contact) that the group can reach directly. Such contact is necessary in order to confirm appointments and/or answer quick questions about the environment, as such these issues are better served by a phone call or e-mail instead of an onsite visit. The number of calls/e-mails depends upon how well organized the group and their questions are, and the availability of such a contact. Usually 5-6 calls throughout the semester seem to be the average. In total there are 4 main visits the group would need to do, and there may be some incidentals requests as the semester progresses, but usually all such communications are handled directly through/by their key contact.

One of the main goals of the project is to be as non-intrusive as possible, and in the end, provide the sponsor with a complete summary of their findings.

As a reference, a course syllabus/schedule for the winter 2016 semester has also been made available to assist prospective and participating sponsors.

Further questions or inquiry can be directed to John Sanderson, the lead Faculty who developed and delivers the Capstone project to the final year students.

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