Want an App? Some nifty software?
We are seeking expressions of interest for customers for our Software Team Projects course in the 2017-18 academic year, writes Tim Storer, School of Computing Science.
Each year we run a Software Team Projects course that introduces students to the challenges of working with real world customers. The course gives students the opportunity to engage in projects that have real world impact and work with customers with a range of expertise and experiences. Students take on the responsibility for negotiating with customers, agreeing and prioritising requirements, and managing project timelines and deliverables. They are also required to continually demonstrate their progress to their customers, gather feedback and adjust to new priorities and demands. Customers benefit from having students work on turning their ideas into reality: a significant proportion of previous projects are actively being developed or deployed to real users.
How does the course work?
The course runs for six months between September and March of an academic year in the third year of our four year degree. One day of the week throughout the academic year is dedicated to the course. The course is entirely based in the laboratory, with support from final year student mentors and academic staff. Each team works in sprints of 3-4 weeks to develop a new release of their system, based on requirements elicitation and negotiation with customers. Students demonstrate the latest release of the system to their customer at regular intervals to gain feedback, but also contact them offline as desired with more detailed questions.
What do we ask from a customer?
Each customer is asked to propose a project outline they would like to work on with two student teams. We allocate two teams per project to provide for some redundancy if one team experiences problems. You are free to run projects that are different with each of the two teams if you wish.
We ask each customer to commit to six entire days throughout the academic year to visiting the students in the laboratory. The dates for these
are: 18th Oct, 8th Nov, 6th Dec, 24th Jan, 21st Feb and 20th Mar. During the first visit, customers have an opportunity to pitch their projects to the students and are allocated two teams (we guarantee that every selected customer will have two teams). Subsequent visits are used for progress demonstrations and requirements gathering and informal discussions. Being in the University for the whole day gives students the opportunity to develop more detailed discussions with you to resolve questions about projects. We will provide space for you to work during quiet periods, as well as lunch for each visit. You are of course free to visit the students on other days, which we encourage!
If your project has particular hardware or software licence needs, or travel costs for the students (e.g. to visit third parties) then you may need to cover the cost of these yourself.
How do you get involved?
Send a project idea to me (email@example.com) with subject 'Level 3 Project Proposal 2017'. This doesn't need to be very long and a paragraph explaining who you are and what you would like to do with the student team is fine. I will get back to you with any suggestions for alterations, or changes to scope.
Usually, a good project is an 'itch you've been wanting to scratch' but is not central to your core business. Examples from previous years included geographical visualisation systems, a mobile application for managing volunteering opportunities in a charity and a sensor system for assessing user interactions in an art gallery.
At the end of August the course team will select the customers for the projects from the submissions and notify all applicants. We don't have a formal mechanism for prioritising project proposals, but will be looking to provide the students with a good mix of project types, and will give priority to projects from the third sector, public sector and startups.
However, as we don't know how many applications we'll get, please send us one!
If you have questions or would like issues clarified then please let me know.
First published: 7 August 2017