Fall 2023 Syllabus
CIS 596 - Entrepreneurial Computer Science Project - Fall 2023
CIS 598 - Computer Science Project - Fall 2023
- Instructor: Dr. Scott DeLoach (sdeloach AT ksu DOT edu)
- Office: DUE 2184
- Phone: (785) 532-6350
- Website: https://people.cs.ksu.edu/~sdeloach/
- Office Hours: TBA
- Instructor: Russell Feldhausen (russfeld AT ksu DOT edu)
I use he/him pronouns. Feel free to share your own pronouns with me, and I’ll do my best to use them!
- Office: DUE 2213, but I mostly work remotely from Kansas City, MO
- Phone: (785) 292-3121 (Call/Text)
- Website: https://russfeld.me
- Virtual Office Hours: By appointment via Zoom
. Schedule a meeting at https://calendly.com/russfeld
Preferred Methods of Communication:
- Email: Students should email questions directly to the instructors. We will try to respond within one business day.
- Ed Discussion: For short questions and discussions of course content and assignments, Ed Discussion is preferred since questions can be asked once and answered for all students. Students are encouraged to post questions there and use that space for discussion, and the instructor will strive to answer questions there as well.
- Phone/Text: Emergencies only! We will do our best to respond as quickly as we can.
- CIS 596: CIS 560, ENTRP 340 and senior standing in computer science. Students may enroll in CIS courses only if they have earned a grade of C or better for each prerequisite to those courses.
- CIS 598: CIS 560 and senior standing in computer science. Students may enroll in CIS courses only if they have earned a grade of C or better for each prerequisite to those courses.
Directed studies: selection, investigation and report on some topic not covered in prior courses; may include an implementation and/or experimentation component; may be done in collaboration with other students. Completion of a final report with literature review and project evaluation.
In this course, students will complete a project, either individually or in small groups, under the supervision of a faculty advisor. The project will integrate concepts from prior courses, but also include a growth component including material not covered in prior courses.
Students will create and deliver several presentations throughout the semester on the status of the project, and will also be responsible for developing design documents and other artifacts. At the end of the semester, students will present their work in a public presentation graded by the faculty advisor.
Major Course Topics
- Software Engineering methodologies
- Software Design Documents & Artifacts
- Public Speaking & Presentation of Technical Information
- Planning and Iterating on a Large Software Project
- Taking a Project from Idea to Completion
- Demonstrating Independent Learning & Continuing Growth in Computer Science
Student Learning Outcomes
After completing this course, a successful student will be able to:
- Analyze a complex computing problem and to apply principles of computing and other relevant disciplines to identify solutions
- Design, implement, and evaluate a computing-based solution to meet a given set of computing requirements in the context of the program’s discipline
- Communicate effectively in a variety of professional contexts
- Apply computer science theory and software development fundamentals to produce computing-based solutions
The course meets in person Mondays from 3:30 - 4:20 PM in DUR 1066. Students should attend all in-person course sessions. In-person sessions will primarily be used for student presentations throughout the semester. There may also be one or two Wednesday in-person class periods for presentations. These dates will be clearly announced in advance.
On weeks where Monday falls on a university holiday, such as Labor Day or President’s Day, the course will instead meet in person on Wednesday of the same week.
Course work hours will be Wednesdays and Fridays from 3:30 - 4:20 PM in DUR 1066 and online via Zoom. Attendance at these work hours is optional, but highly recommended. It is a good time to work on your project, ask questions, and get advice. The instructors will be available during these times to answer questions about the class or provide project assistance.
There is no shortcut to becoming a great programmer. Only by doing the work will you develop the skills and knowledge to make you a successful computer scientist. This course is built around that principle, and gives you ample opportunity to do the work, with as much support as we can offer.
- Initial Writeup & Feature List - typically early in the semester, students will submit an initial writeup detailing their project, identifying a faculty advisor, and listing the features for their project.
- Project Overview & Requirements Presentation - typically during the first and second month of the semester, each student will give a short 8-10 minute presentation introducing their chosen project, and discuss the requirements needed to complete the project.
- Project Design Presentation - typically during the third and fourth month of the semester, each student will give a short 8-10 minute presentation discussing the design of their project. This should include various relevant design artifacts, such as UML diagrams, GUI mockups, API specifications, and database ER diagrams.
- Final Project
- Advertisement - students will develop a single slide/image and abstract to be used for advertising their final project presentations.
- Presentation - during the final weeks of the semester, students will schedule a final project presentation. That presentation will be advertised through the department and given publicly. The student’s faculty advisor will grade the final project presentation.
- Artifacts - at the end of the semester, students must submit the full source code of their project, presentation materials, design documents, and a short writeup detailing the project, it’s completion status, and any future work to be done should another student choose to continue and build upon the project.
Since this is a project-based course with few deliverables, grading will be handled differently than most other college courses. Your final letter grade will reflect your overall performance in the course, including attendance, in-class presentations, public presentations, adherence to timelines, consistent progress throughout the semester, and the quality of the final project artifacts. Grading will be done in consultation between course instructors and a student’s faculty advisor.
A rough estimate of the relative grading importance of each deliverable is given below:
- 30% - Completion of Initial Artifacts and Presentations; In-Class Attendance and Adherence to Deadlines
- 70% - Final Project Presentation & Artifacts
The two in-class presentations will be graded using specifications grading. Put simply, the instructors will rate how well the presentation meets the specifications given and the expectations of the instructors.Therefore, students will be given one of the following four ratings:
- Exceeds Expectations
- Meets Expectations
- Needs Revision
Students who receive a Needs Revision or Incomplete rating will be given one chance to redo the presentation during one of the online course work hours later that week.
Grade Letter Deductions
Since this is a senior-level course, points will not be given for things such as attendance and meeting deadlines, since those are expected of students at this level. However, failure to meet these expectations may result in a grade letter deduction at the end of the semester at the sole discretion of the instructors:
- Identify a project topic and faculty advisor before the deadline.
- Attend at least 80% of the in-class meeting times.
- Give a presentation on the scheduled date.
- Submit the final project advertisement by the deadline.
- Submit the final project artifacts by the deadline.
Reasonable accommodations will be made in case of unforeseen emergencies or university-excused absences. It is always best to reach out to the instructors as soon as you are aware of a situation that may require accommodation.
In general, students are expected to work independently on a project unless given permission from the instructors. Team projects are welcomed, but come with additional expectations to ensure that each student participates fully and the project is appropriately scoped.
Since this is a project course, it is likely that some code in your project may come from other sources, such as a starter project or documentation. Students are expected to document each instance of code taken from another source through code comments marking the relevant location. The majority of the final project should represent the student’s own work.
As discussed above, students are expected to adhere to course deadlines. Failure to meet those deadlines may result in a letter grade deduction at the end of the semester.
If you have extenuating circumstances, please discuss them with the instructor as soon as they arise so other arrangements can be made. If you find that you are getting behind in the class, you are encouraged to speak to the instructor for options to get back on track.
Students should strive to complete this course in its entirety before the end of the semester in which they are enrolled. However, since retaking the course would be costly and repetitive for students, we would like to give students a chance to succeed with a little help rather than immediately fail students who are struggling.
If you are unable to complete the course in a timely manner, please contact the instructor to discuss an incomplete grade. Incomplete grades are given solely at the instructor’s discretion. See the official K-State Grading Policy
for more information. In general, poor time management alone is not a sufficient reason for an incomplete grade.
Unless otherwise noted in writing on a signed Incomplete Agreement Form
, the following stipulations apply to any incomplete grades given in this course:
- Students who request an incomplete will have their final grade capped at a C.
- Students will be given a maximum of 8 calendar weeks from the end of the enrolled semester to complete the course. It is expected that students have completed at least half of the course in order to qualify for an incomplete.
Recommended Texts & Supplies
Students will make use of GitHub
for source code management.
Students may use their choice of IDEs and software development platforms. Many of them are available in the Computer Science Department’s labs. If a particular software or framework is needed but cannot be acquired, consult with the instructors.
Subject to Change
The details in this syllabus are not set in stone. Due to the flexible nature of this class, adjustments may need to be made as the semester progresses, though they will be kept to a minimum. If any changes occur, the changes will be posted on the Canvas page for this course and emailed to all students.
Standard Syllabus Statements
The statements below are standard syllabus statements from K-State and our program. The latest versions are available online here
Kansas State University has an Honor and Integrity System based on personal integrity, which is presumed to be sufficient assurance that, in academic matters, one’s work is performed honestly and without unauthorized assistance. Undergraduate and graduate students, by registration, acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Honor and Integrity System. The policies and procedures of the Honor and Integrity System
apply to all full and part-time students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate courses on-campus, off-campus, and via distance learning. A component vital to the Honor and Integrity System is the inclusion of the Honor Pledge which applies to all assignments, examinations, or other course work undertaken by students. The Honor Pledge is implied, whether or not it is stated: “On my honor, as a student, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this academic work.” A grade of XF can result from a breach of academic honesty. The F indicates failure in the course; the X indicates the reason is an Honor Pledge violation.
For this course, a violation of the Honor Pledge will result in sanctions such as a 0 on the assignment or an XF in the course, depending on severity. Actively seeking unauthorized aid, such as posting lab assignments on sites such as Chegg or StackOverflow, or asking another person to complete your work, even if unsuccessful, will result in an immediate XF in the course.
This course assumes that all your course work will be done by you. Use of AI text and code generators such as ChatGPT and GitHub Copilot in any submission for this course is strictly forbidden unless explicitly allowed by your instructor. Any unauthorized use of these tools without proper attribution is a violation of the K-State Honor Pledge
We reserve the right to use various platforms that can perform automatic plagiarism detection by tracking changes made to files and comparing submitted projects against other students’ submissions and known solutions. That information may be used to determine if plagiarism has taken place.
Students with Disabilities
At K-State it is important that every student has access to course content and the means to demonstrate course mastery. Students with disabilities may benefit from services including accommodations provided by the Student Access Center. Disabilities can include physical, learning, executive functions, and mental health. You may register at the Student Access Center
or to learn more contact:
- Manhattan/Olathe/Global Campus – Student Access Center
- K-State Salina Campus – Julie Rowe; Student Success Coordinator
Students already registered with the Student Access Center please request your Letters of Accommodation early in the semester to provide adequate time to arrange your approved academic accommodations. Once SAC approves your Letter of Accommodation it will be e-mailed to you, and your instructor(s) for this course. Please follow up with your instructor to discuss how best to implement the approved accommodations.
Expectations for Conduct
All student activities in the University, including this course, are governed by the Student Judicial Conduct Code
as outlined in the Student Governing Association By Laws
, Article V, Section 3, number 2. Students who engage in behavior that disrupts the learning environment may be asked to leave the class.
Mutual Respect and Inclusion in K-State Teaching & Learning Spaces
At K-State, faculty and staff are committed to creating and maintaining an inclusive and supportive learning environment for students from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. K-State courses, labs, and other virtual and physical learning spaces promote equitable opportunity to learn, participate, contribute, and succeed, regardless of age, race, color, ethnicity, nationality, genetic information, ancestry, disability, socioeconomic status, military or veteran status, immigration status, Indigenous identity, gender identity, gender expression, sexuality, religion, culture, as well as other social identities.
Faculty and staff are committed to promoting equity and believe the success of an inclusive learning environment relies on the participation, support, and understanding of all students. Students are encouraged to share their views and lived experiences as they relate to the course or their course experience, while recognizing they are doing so in a learning environment in which all are expected to engage with respect to honor the rights, safety, and dignity of others in keeping with the K-State Principles of Community
If you feel uncomfortable because of comments or behavior encountered in this class, you may bring it to the attention of your instructor, advisors, and/or mentors. If you have questions about how to proceed with a confidential process to resolve concerns, please contact the Student Ombudsperson Office
. Violations of the student code of conduct
can be reported using the Code of Conduct Reporting Form
. You can also report discrimination, harassment or sexual harassment
, if needed.
This is our personal policy and not a required syllabus statement from K-State. It has been adapted from this statement
from K-State Global Campus, and theRecurse Center Manual
. We have adapted their ideas to fit this course.
Online communication is inherently different than in-person communication. When speaking in person, many times we can take advantage of the context and body language of the person speaking to better understand what the speaker means, not just what is said. This information is not present when communicating online, so we must be much more careful about what we say and how we say it in order to get our meaning across.
Here are a few general rules to help us all communicate online in this course, especially while using tools such as Canvas or Discord:
- Use a clear and meaningful subject line to announce your topic. Subject lines such as “Question” or “Problem” are not helpful. Subjects such as “Logic Question in Project 5, Part 1 in Java” or “Unexpected Exception when Opening Text File in Python” give plenty of information about your topic.
- Use only one topic per message. If you have multiple topics, post multiple messages so each one can be discussed independently.
- Be thorough, concise, and to the point. Ideally, each message should be a page or less.
- Include exact error messages, code snippets, or screenshots, as well as any previous steps taken to fix the problem. It is much easier to solve a problem when the exact error message or screenshot is provided. If we know what you’ve tried so far, we can get to the root cause of the issue more quickly.
- Consider carefully what you write before you post it. Once a message is posted, it becomes part of the permanent record of the course and can easily be found by others.
- If you are lost, don’t know an answer, or don’t understand something, speak up! Email and Canvas both allow you to send a message privately to the instructors, so other students won’t see that you asked a question. Don’t be afraid to ask questions anytime, as you can choose to do so without any fear of being identified by your fellow students.
- Class discussions are confidential. Do not share information from the course with anyone outside of the course without explicit permission.
- Do not quote entire message chains; only include the relevant parts. When replying to a previous message, only quote the relevant lines in your response.
- Do not use all caps. It makes it look like you are shouting. Use appropriate text markup (bold, italics, etc.) to highlight a point if needed.
- No feigning surprise. If someone asks a question, saying things like “I can’t believe you don’t know that!” are not helpful, and only serve to make that person feel bad.
- No “well-actually’s.” If someone makes a statement that is not entirely correct, resist the urge to offer a “well, actually…” correction, especially if it is not relevant to the discussion. If you can help solve their problem, feel free to provide correct information, but don’t post a correction just for the sake of being correct.
- Do not correct someone’s grammar or spelling. Again, it is not helpful, and only serves to make that person feel bad. If there is a genuine mistake that may affect the meaning of the post, please contact the person privately or let the instructors know privately so it can be resolved.
- Avoid subtle -isms and microaggressions. Avoid comments that could make others feel uncomfortable based on their personal identity. See the syllabus section on Diversity and Inclusion above for more information on this topic. If a comment makes you uncomfortable, please contact the instructor.
- Avoid sarcasm, flaming, advertisements, lingo, trolling, doxxing, and other bad online habits. They have no place in an academic environment. Tasteful humor is fine, but sarcasm can be misunderstood.
As a participant in course discussions, you should also strive to honor the diversity of your classmates by adhering to the K-State Principles of Community
Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Harassment
Kansas State University is committed to maintaining academic, housing, and work environments that are free of discrimination, harassment, and sexual harassment. Instructors support the University’s commitment by creating a safe learning environment during this course, free of conduct that would interfere with your academic opportunities. Instructors also have a duty to report
any behavior they become aware of that potentially violates the University’s policy prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and sexual harassment, as outlined by PPM 3010
If a student is subjected to discrimination, harassment, or sexual harassment, they are encouraged to make a non-confidential report to the University’s Office for Institutional Equity (OIE)
using the online reporting form
. Incident disclosure is not required to receive resources at K-State. Reports that include domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, should be considered for reporting by the complainant to the Kansas State University Police Department
or the Riley County Police Department
. Reports made to law enforcement are separate from reports made to OIE. A complainant can choose to report to one or both entities. Confidential support and advocacy can be found with the K-State Center for Advocacy, Response, and Education (CARE)
. Confidential mental health services can be found with Lafene Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
. Academic support can be found with the Office of Student Life (OSL)
. OSL is a non-confidential resource. OIE also provides a comprehensive list of resources
on their website. If you have questions about non-confidential and confidential resources, please contact OIE at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (785) 532–6220.
Academic Freedom Statement
Kansas State University is a community of students, faculty, and staff who work together to discover new knowledge, create new ideas, and share the results of their scholarly inquiry with the wider public. Although new ideas or research results may be controversial or challenge established views, the health and growth of any society requires frank intellectual exchange. Academic freedom protects this type of free exchange and is thus essential to any university’s mission.
Moreover, academic freedom supports collaborative work in the pursuit of truth and the dissemination of knowledge in an environment of inquiry, respectful debate, and professionalism. Academic freedom is not limited to the classroom or to scientific and scholarly research, but extends to the life of the university as well as to larger social and political questions. It is the right and responsibility of the university community to engage with such issues.
Kansas State University is committed to providing a safe teaching and learning environment for student and faculty members. In order to enhance your safety in the unlikely case of a campus emergency make sure that you know where and how to quickly exit your classroom and how to follow any emergency directives. Current Campus Emergency Information is available at the University’s Advisory
K-State has many resources to help contribute to student success. These resources include accommodations for academics, paying for college, student life, health and safety, and others. Check out the Student Guide to Help and Resources: One Stop Shop
for more information.
Student Academic Creations
Student academic creations are subject to Kansas State University and Kansas Board of Regents Intellectual Property Policies. For courses in which students will be creating intellectual property, the K-State policy can be found at University Handbook, Appendix R: Intellectual Property Policy and Institutional Procedures (part I.E.)
. These policies address ownership and use of student academic creations.
Your mental health and good relationships are vital to your overall well-being. Symptoms of mental health issues may include excessive sadness or worry, thoughts of death or self-harm, inability to concentrate, lack of motivation, or substance abuse. Although problems can occur anytime for anyone, you should pay extra attention to your mental health if you are feeling academic or financial stress, discrimination, or have experienced a traumatic event, such as loss of a friend or family member, sexual assault or other physical or emotional abuse.
If you are struggling with these issues, do not wait to seek assistance.
For Kansas State Salina Campus:
For Global Campus/K-State Online:
- K-State Online students have free access to mental health counseling with My SSP
- 24/7 support via chat and phone.
- The Office of Student Life
can direct you to additional resources.
University Excused Absences
K-State has a University Excused Absence policy (Section F62)
. Class absence(s) will be handled between the instructor and the student unless there are other university offices involved. For university excused absences, instructors shall provide the student the opportunity to make up missed assignments, activities, and/or attendance specific points that contribute to the course grade, unless they decide to excuse those missed assignments from the student’s course grade. Please see the policy for a complete list of university excused absences and how to obtain one. Students are encouraged to contact their instructor regarding their absences.
© The materials in this online course fall under the protection of all intellectual property, copyright and trademark laws of the U.S. The digital materials included here come with the legal permissions and releases of the copyright holders. These course materials should be used for educational purposes only; the contents should not be distributed electronically or otherwise beyond the confines of this online course. The URLs listed here do not suggest endorsement of either the site owners or the contents found at the sites. Likewise, mentioned brands (products and services) do not suggest endorsement. Students own copyright to what they create.
The major outcome for this course is a project that demonstrates your skills in computer science, software development, and other areas relevant to your chosen degree program. This page provides an overview that will help you get started on your project.
Starting in Spring 2023, we now have a special track for topics that fall generally under the heading of “research” instead of a software development project. This includes projects that may have a significant experimental component where the focus is less on developing a software project and more about creating software to support a research task. If you feel that your project fits this description, you should skip to the Research Topic
Here is a recommended timeline for your project:
- Week 1: Identify a project, get a project advisor.
- Week 2: Report your project topic and advisor. Start developing.
- Week 3: “Hello World” Complete.
- Weeks 3-8: Overview & Requirements Presentations & First Round of Development.
- Week 8: Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Complete.
- Weeks 9-14: Design Presentations & Second Round of Development.
- Week 14: Schedule Final Presentation & Create Promotional Materials
- Week 15: Version 1.0 Feature Complete.
- Weeks 15-16: Final Presentations.
- Week 16: Submit Final Materials.
Choosing a Topic
The first major step is to identify a possible topic for your project. It should align with your interests in the field, and it may also fit well with previous courses you’ve taken or possibly future career paths. You may also choose to use your project to explore a new topic or framework that you’d like to get experience with.
You are also welcome to choose to try and duplicate an existing program from scratch, putting your own spin on it and writing the code from scratch. For example, you may choose to try and duplicate the underlying code and features for a popular social network - in effect your project is driven by their design, but you have to figure out how to build it and code it yourself.
Finally, if you are having trouble finding a topic, consult the Project Ideas folder on Canvas for project ideas that have been submitted or previous projects that could be continued. You can also chat with the course instructors to get some ideas of a project to consider, or if you have an advisor you’d like to work with, chat with them for some ideas.
Generally students who choose a project topic that requires a large amount of learning end up producing inferior projects simply due to the amount of time spent early in the semester learning the basics. It is best to choose something you already know something about, but would like to explore further.
Features to Consider
As you consider project topics, remember that completed projects must include these two items:
- Problem/Solution In the initial discussion of the project, you should be able to phrase your project as a solution to a selected problem. For example, you could say that the problem is “a need for accurate record keeping for a winter warming shelter” and that your solution is a “web application that is accessible on mobile devices.”
- Algorithmic Functionality Each project must include some significant algorithmic component. This means that web applications must do more than just present and store data using the basic CRUD database functions, and video games must have more than just hard-coded levels and enemies. So, be thinking about how you can demonstrate a significant algorithmic component in your project.
When selecting your project topic, remember that the goal of this project is to develop a large amount of code as part of a software project. So, if you plan on using tools such as a drag & drop UI creator or a visual game engine such as Unity, you still need to make sure that the bulk of the project is code that you’ve written yourself. Any code generated by these tools is not considered a core part of your project since it doesn’t demonstrate your programming skill.
You can demonstrate your skill instead by building UIs directly in code, writing algorithms to automatically generate assets in a video game, or choosing to use a “code-first” UI design or game engine.
Finding an Advisor
Once you’ve identified a project, you’ll need to select a faculty advisor to work with. Throughout the semester, you’ll meet regularly to discuss your project with your faculty advisor, and follow their guidance to produce a quality product.
Typically you want to choose a faculty advisor that is familiar with your project area, since they will be most likely to be able to provide good assistance and feedback as you work on your project.
If you aren’t sure which faculty members may fit well with your project idea, contact the course instructors or consult the information on the CS Faculty
Each advisor approaches senior projects differently, but in general your advisor will typically ask you to do the following:
- Provide an overview of the project and a list of features to be developed.
- Meet weekly to provide status updates on the project.
- Read or review additional information, research papers, etc. related to your project.
- Share your code and other project artifacts for review
- Schedule a final project presentation
At the very beginning of your project, you should create a few initial artifacts to start the development process:
- Writeup: prepare a short, 1 page writeup that describes your project topic. It should give some basic use cases
and a rough idea of the architecture or platforms you plan on using in the project. Your writeup must include clear sections containing the following:
- Problem/Solution A clear statement of a problem that you are trying to solve, and how your project will fill the role as a solution to that problem. There are many ways to approach this statement - consult the course instructors for assistance if you are unsure how to phrase your project in this way.
- Use Cases A list of a few simple use cases that help describe how users will interact with your project.
- Algorithmic Functionality A clear statement of the intended algorithmic functionality of your project. Your project must include some algorithmic functionality beyond the basics. For example, a web application should provide more than just the basic CRUD database operations. Likewise, a video game should include some complex algorithmic component such as procedurally-generated terrain or a learning AI beyond just simple, hard-coded content.
- Student Qualification A clear statement explaining why you are qualified to take on this project. You must describe your background and experience with the chosen project and related technologies. If you have no prior experience, consider choosing a different project.
- Project Advisor List your project advisor. You must have permission from your advisor confirming that they will supervise your project before submitting!
- Feature Lists: prepare three sets of feature lists for your project:
- Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or must haves: these are features that must be present in the project for it to function in the basic sense. It usually doesn’t include much in the way of user interface beyond the basic interactions, and it may be missing some additional items to make it more useable. A project that has these features could be considered a Minimum Viable Product. Typically you want to have these features completed in the first 8 weeks of development.
- Version 1.0 or should haves: these are features that should be present in the project for it to be considered complete. This would involve additional usability features or links to other APIs as needed. A project with these features would be considered a 1.0 product, and could be used by others. Typically these features are completed in the second 8 weeks of development.
- Version 2.0 or would like to haves: these are cool features that would be useful to have in a finalized project, but they may be outside the scope of what is achievable in a single semester. The lack of these features should not impact the useability or functionality of the project. Typically these features are simply listed on the “Future Work” portion of the final presentation, but if you complete the project ahead of schedule you may consider adding one or more of these features to the project.
- Time Managemnet Plan: prepare a detailed time management plan for each week of the semester. This helps ensure that you are able to devote 9 hours each week to this class, and also ensures that you save enough time for other classes and activities.
These artifacts are not “set in stone” and can be easily adjusted throughout the project. For example, you may find that a feature previously on the Version 2.0 list is not critical, and it moves to an earlier list.
The next step in creating a successful project is getting to the “Hello World” stage. This typically involves configuring your development environment, creating a new project or downloading an existing project, and confirming that you can successfully build and run the project in its simplest form. Ideally, you should be at the “Hello World” stage of your project no later than week 3, and ideally much sooner. This is especially important if you are learning how to use a new framework, programming language, or tool, as it may require significant work to get to this stage alone.
Once you are at the “Hello World” stage, you are at the point where you can start adding features to your project from the feature lists described above. A great way to think of those feature lists is like the Product Backlog
in the agile software methodology - it is a list of project requirements to be completed.
Project Scale and Scope
One area that many students struggle with is finding a project that has the appropriate scale and scope for a senior project. While there are no clear rules for this, and each student’s situation is different, here are some suggestions for finding an appropriately sized project.
- The course is 3 credit hours, which roughly equates to an expectation of 9 hours of work each week. Across a 16 week semester, that comes to a total of 144 hours, or just over three and a half 40 hour work weeks if you worked on it full time. You’ll be tracking your hours worked throughout the semester, and that may help you make sure you are spending enough time on your project.
- If you are working in a new framework or language, you should work completely through the initial tutorial in the first couple of weeks of class. Your finished project must go significantly beyond what is covered in the tutorial.
- Typically projects will have 3-4 major features that make up the minimum viable product, and another 3-4 major features for version 1.0. Each feature should require 1-2 weeks of effort to implement.
- Your advisor and course instructors can help you determine if your proposed project has appropriate scope, or if it needs modification. You should consult with them early on in the process, and continually update them on your progress, especially if your planned features change.
At this point, you should be well into development on your project. The next page discusses the weekly work to be performed as part of this project.