CS486 - Capstone Design

Team Selection and Project Preference Memo Guidelines


An important part of the Capstone process is that (for perhaps the only time in your careers!) you, as students, get to have input into the selection of the Capstone project that you will work on. The hope is that, if you are working on something that interests you personally, the motivation and qualilty of the end result will be higher. Of course, it isn't always possible to accommodate everyone --- it is necessary to distribute personnel across projects, and there are other factors (personalities, skills, and so on) to consider. For this reason, we've developed the following process:

  1. Sponsors submit projects to get done to CS faculty. These projects are reviewed and evaluated by CS faculty associated with the Design4Practice program. A subset of these projects is selected to be tackled in the upcoming cycle. In some cases, we may present more projects than can be staffed and allow student preferences shape which ones get done. Project descriptions are all posted to the course website.
  2. Students pre-registered for CS486 are emailed and asked to review the posted projects and prioritize them based on their skills, interest level, and other preferences. These preferences are expressed in a formal memo (See instructions below) and emailed to the responsible faculty member by a deadline in January (specified on the course site home page).
  3. CS faculty review the student preferences and do a complicated n-dimensional constraint balancing problem (not easy!). We will make every effort to get every student his/her first or second choice project --- but there are always cases in which this is not possible. Other factors we will consider in assigning projects include individual skills, project complexity, and preferences expressed by students regarding persons they do/do not want to work with.

Of course, it is a simple fact that you may not get to work on your favorite project. But this is very much like real life: your boss is going to take your skills/preferences into account, but ultimately you're going to get assigned to whatever project needs to get done.

The Project Preference Memo

To guide CS faculty in assigning project teams, each of you will prepare a professional memo that details the relevant info. Each memo shall include:

  1. Your name and contact info (phone, email) at top, big and bold
  2. A neat little passport photo portrait in top right corner.
  3. A short section on skills. Don't list everything you've ever done -- just give some highlights on areas of particular expertise. The technical and social strengths that you think we should know about.
  4. Next Section: Your top three project preferences, clearly numbered 1,2,3 in order of preference. For each one, give a 1-2 sentence reason why you like the project, or what special skills you have that are relevant for that project. Why should we assign you to it?
  5. In the last section, you may list other relevant info. This might include specific others that you'd love/hate to be on the same team with, along with brief rationale.

The whole thing should be one single-sided page, created as a Word document or a PDF. Quality matters! Make it look nice; express yourself clearly. Keep in mind that this memo will shape your life up through the end of spring term!