Getting on Track: Capstone Students Upgrade Caterpillar Project Management Dashboard

May 2, 2024


Team 24024 presents CAT Hub to a panel of industry judges at the 2024 Craig M. Berge Design Day.

Global manufacturing giant Caterpillar has turned to Team 24024 to build a flexible project management system that could be used in its company operations, and potentially around the globe.

Caterpillar is sponsoring the capstone team to build a tracking dashboard, dubbed CAT Hub, that will deliver data to administrators and executives that is customized to their needs. CAT Hub will be in frequent use, said Sardar Mostofa, the faculty mentor and an instructor in the Interdisciplinary Capstone program.

“Caterpillar is envisioning using this across the board, not just in one facility,” he explained. “They have similar systems in place, but they are isolated and only operational for certain departments or facilities. This one is going to be organization-wide.”

The dashboards Caterpillar uses now are rigid, in terms of the parameters, said Basarajav Patil, program coordinator at Caterpillar and project advisor to the capstone team: “CAT Hub could be used in different domains. Imagine it’s for sales. It would roll up all the figures and projects related to that, and we could look at the resource requirements of the user, whether facility or division level, or higher.”

Many capstone projects have a two-year timeline, with a new team of seniors taking over and advancing to completion the work of the prior year’s students. CAT Hub is a one-year project, and it has been an intense process for the students.

“The first semester was the design phase, laying out the database and deciding on features,” said Mostofa. “This semester is the development phase. That means we’re building it, putting in the hard code, and integrating everything.” By April 29, the team had their prototype ready to display for Craig M. Berge Design Day.

The steep learning curve for Team 24024 means the students have had to stretch their capacities to fulfill the demands of the assignment.

“It’s fully a software project, and we only have two software engineers on the team. I’ve done some coding but not full stack development,” said Ibraheem Sarwar, an engineering management major and the student project leader. “One of the challenges was understanding how the backend of a program connects to the frontend. But where there's a will, there's a way, and if you put in enough effort, you can get it done.”

The team’s software is projected to track Caterpillar projects across departments. "There might be thousands of projects going on at the same time," said Sarwar. For each project, a manager could customize the CAT Hub tool appropriately, entering data, personnel, funding and timelines, whether for a manufacturing, mining or other kind of project. "You can then track key performance indicators, and forecast costs or other parameters five or 10 months down the road.”

“One great thing about working with the students is that they are young and bright, and they always come up with new solutions for the everyday business problem," said Patil. "I saw quite a bit of that with our group.”

“We have a great team,” Sarwar said. “We all got together and said this is a project that has to be made.”

Asked if the CAT Hub project is a kind of real world project for the capstone team, Mostofa replied emphatically. “It’s not kind of real world. It is real-world. That’s what we expose students to here at the University of Arizona,” he said. “This is no different from what they'll be working on in real-life applications in their professional careers.”

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