Information Technology Projects
Spring 2002

Introduction

Description

Information Technology Projects (Projects) offers students real world experience understanding and solving Information Technology software and system problems. The course involves a set of projects at clients such as local corporations and other institutions. We organize students in teams of about four. Each team undertakes one IT project that lasts the semester.
In the classroom we study IT project management and software engineering. The project issues include project specification, consulting project management, technology planning and training, and communicating to management. The software engineering issues include the software maturity model, the software life cycle, software standardization, and technology trends.

Course Particulars

Professor: Arthur Goldberg
Course home page: http://www.cs.nyu.edu/artg/itp/S2002/index.html
Update history in 2002: 1/24, 1/25, 2/7
Time: Most Thursdays, 5:00 to 8:00 PM (with advanced notice you may leave for a 7 PM class), plus about one day a week at your client
Place: 719 Broadway, 12th Floor Conference Room (Room 1221)
Number: G22.3812-001
Email beacon: NYUITProjectsSpring2002@yahoogroups.com
Credits: 3

Professor Particulars

Email: artg@cs.nyu.edu
Office: 715 Broadway, Room 711
Home page: www.cs.nyu.edu/artg
Office hour:  By appointment, schedule by email

Projects

Introduction

We recruit local corporations and other institutions to provide interesting projects. We will select projects that teach students about technologically important systems. We seek problems that involve widely used technologies of growing influence. These technologies include the Internet, the World Wide Web, Intranets, Java, and databases. We will consider projects involving other important technical areas of mutual interest to students and clients. To increase the resources available to students, we also try to obtain projects that use technologies that are available in our campus computing environment.
We divide the course into two sections, requirements gathering and analysis, and prototype implementation and documentation.  Prof. Goldberg and the team meets with the client at the beginning of the project, after the analysis phase, and at the end of the project.  During the requirements gathering and analysis phase each team studies the client's business goals for our project and selects an appropriate software and hardware strategy for efficiently meeting the goals.  In the transition meeting the team presents their findings and a plan and schedule for prototyping the best design.  During the prototype implementation and documentation phase team members build a prototype that they can present at the demo show at the end of the semester.

Clients for Spring 2002

NYU CS Department
NYU Stern Business School
membership.com
New York Academy of Medicine
VidiSolutions

Client Role

In exchange for our assistance, clients provide adequate resources for students to learn and to succeed on the project. Typically, the provides facilities, such as computers, software and office space for students to make significant progress during the course.  Sometimes, NYU provides such resources.  A client technical project manager will spend about one half a day a week supervising students.
Interactions with clients may provide opportunities for full-time employment following the course. Many students have obtained jobs during the last 6 years.
Some clients will be paying significant money to NYU in recognition of the accomplishments we achieve in the course.

Team Composition

Students will participate in teams composed of CS and "MS in IS" students. At the first class meeting each student will rank each proposed project's desirability on a scale from 1 to 10. Prof. Goldberg will assign students to teams by the second class. He will try to maximize the class's total satisfaction, assign students to projects for which they're skilled, and allocate some CS and some MS in IS students to each team. Each expertise and talent will support the other, so CS students with relatively modest management and/or English experience can feel comfortable, as should MS in IS students with less technical experience.
Sometimes clients break projects into 2 person tasks so team members can progress fairly independently.

Student Admission

In the Spring of 2002, the Projects course can accommodate at most 16 students in 4 projects, although we will go over that.

Skills

To be productive on a project a student must possess sufficient technical and/or managerial skills. These skills can be obtained by academic training and/or experience.
As the set of skills cannot be precisely specified, interested students should contact Prof. Arthur Goldberg (artg@cs.nyu.edu) for permission to register. Email a resume or short biography.

Registration Logistics

Admitted students will be emailed a 4-digit access code. Register for the course as "Advanced Laboratory in Information Systems" (G22.3812). Stern-based MSIS students should follow through with their usual registration procedures for Courant courses; Courant-based students may call TorchTone (995-4747) and register.

Potential Conflict-of-Interest

Students who work must consider whether participating in a project--and interning for a Projects course client--will involve a conflict-of-interest with their employer. Prof. Goldberg has checked, and none of our clients consider it a conflict if a student intern works elsewhere, as long as the employer does not compete with the client. Students should obtain their employer's approval to intern, if they feel it is necessary.

Non-disclosure

At some clients, students will access proprietary information protected as trade secrets. Student interns at these clients may be asked to sign a legal document called a non-disclosure which promises that they will not communicate trade secrets learned at work outside the client. If you indicate interest in a particular project, we assume that you're willing to sign a non-disclosure for that client. Prof. Goldberg will sign the non-disclosure too. Students who work should obtain their employer's authorization to sign the non-disclosure, if they feel permission is necessary.

Schedule

Projects, like all graduate CS courses at NYU, demands significant effort. Doing a good job requires about 10 hours of participation a week; doing a great job requires more.

Weekly schedule

We meet as a class about 9 out of 14 weeks. The tentative semester schedule is below. Class attendance is mandatory, as class meetings include technical and operational lectures by both students and Prof. Goldberg.
Most clients are corporations which work "regular business hours". Projects involve coordination among students, and between students and the client. Students and clients are strongly urged to arrange a mutually convenient weekday on which students will meet and intern weekly at the client site. Some clients may work weekends and/or evenings, and may be able to schedule the regular meeting outside of business hours.

Students who are full-time employees

Some students who work full-time want to take Projects. They may do so.
Students unable to spend time at client sites during "regular business hours" should apply for projects whose regular meetings occur outside of business hours or at NYU. Prof. Goldberg will attempt to assign them accordingly. However, no student can be guaranteed assignment to a project that is scheduled outside regular business hours.

Resources for running special individual projects are not available.

Semester project schedule

To complete the projects during our 14 week semester, Projects is scheduled tightly. The Spring 2002 schedule follows:
Through Jan. 24: Prof. Goldberg enrolls a selected group of students.

By Jan. 24: Prospective clients submit project proposals. Proposals will be published on NYU's Web to advertise the course to students.

Jan. 24: At the first class, students learn about all projects.

Jan. 30, noon: Students rank projects.  The projects which really excite the students get staffed. In past years, Prof. Goldberg has been able to assign 95% of students to projects that they rank 9 or 10 out of 10.

Feb. 4: Students assigned to projects by Prof. Goldberg.  Students notified by email.  Staffed and unstaffed clients are notified.

Feb. 4 to 7:  Liaisons schedule 3 hour kickoff meetings at clients.  One student, designated the liaison, is responsible for scheduling the kickoff meeting and for scheduling a mutually convenient weekly time at which the client's project manager(s) and the student team can meet and intern together at the client's site. The meeting should be scheduled as early as possible.

Feb. 4 to 12:  We hold a 3 hour kickoff meeting at each client. The student team and Prof. Goldberg meet the client's authorizing and project manager(s). The client explains the set of projects we will pursue in much greater detail than the proposal. Together, we select a mutually satisfactory subset of projects to pursue.  Each student leaves with the beginnings of a clear understanding of the project they will intern on.  Prof. Goldberg assigns each student a software topic to talk about at their technical lecture.

Project interning: Kickoff meeting through May 9: Each team interns for about 12 weeks with their client. Students meet weekly with their project manager. Prof. Goldberg supervises and teaches the class at a weekly meeting at NYU. We study software engineering, technology, project management and presentation skills.

Week of March 18: We hold a 3 hour transition meeting at which we transition from an analysis and planning phase to a prototyping phase at each client.  The student team and Prof. Goldberg meet with the client's project manager(s). We evaluate the project's progress and set clear goals for the rest of the work. Students present an analysis and prototyping plan. Example plans will be made available by professor Goldberg.

May 2: At our "DemoShow" at NYU all teams present their results to all clients, interested faculty and other students.

Week of May 6 to 10: At a 2 hour wrap-up meeting at the end of the semester the team and Prof. Goldberg meet with the client's authorizing and project manager(s) at the client. Students present their results and hand-off their results to clients.

Class Meeting Schedule

Week Date Topic / Reading Description
1 24-Jan Information Technology Projects: Introduction and Logistics / Handouts Course goals: Software project planning and execution: business analysis and requirements gathering; development planning and scheduling: software lifecycle.  Description of all projects and clients, review course description, handout student questionnaire and project selection form.  Course grading. 
2 31-Jan Project Analysis / UML summary Understanding and describing business objectives: switching costs, standardization, infrastructure, ROI; collecting and analyzing requirements, good questions to ask, individual research; use case analysis; UML.
Progress reports, kickoff meeting goals, agenda and preparation.
PROBABLY: Team assignments, liaison responsibilities; 
Teamwork and problem solving skills.
3 7-Feb No class: kickoff meeting week .
4 14-Feb Project Analysis Continued / [RD, chap 10, 14, SPSG, Chap 7, 8]
Transition meeting / Sample transition reports

Business requirements gathering, Features and specifications, Project management, Risk management
What to do with requirements: managing expectations; 
Analysis to development transition meeting format and goals
5 21-Feb No class .
6 28-Feb System architecture and design, progress report / TBD, Weinberg "programming teams"
Individual preparation /  
 
Individual preparation: tuning technical skills; testing theories; risk-reward of guessing 
What makes a good architecture? Interface design, specification, definition and implementation; 
Present sample progress report; democratic programming teams
7 7-Mar Student presentations: Project progress reports Half of students, some from each team, discuss project progress.
Professor: Project problem-solving; communications, understanding roles and skills.
Spring break 14-Mar No class .
8 21-Mar No class: transition meeting week .
9 28-Mar TBD, perhaps large scale software engineering, changing organizations / Humphrey, Weinberg CMM, Weinberg change model
10 4-Apr Writing correct code - Reviewing Code / Gries, the science of programming; extreme programming doctrine, Weinberg, McConnell and Humphrey on code review, example code What is 'correct' code? approaches to making code correct:
Good design; avoiding bugs; invariants; correctness proofs; the individual psychology of programming--cognative dissonance; testing: unit test, JUnit, extreme programming, demonstrate a code inspection 
11 11-Apr TBD, possibly troubleshooting / Polya, "how to solve it"
12 18-Apr Student presentations: Code review Student presentations.  Half of students, some from each team, review code.  (For code reviews, programmers distribute code and architecture and functionality overview to class by 12-April.  Reviewers take home code and look for errors.  Reviewers return feedback error forms to Professor by 17-April)
Programmer presents code, team members and professor offer feedback.
13 25-Apr DemoShow planning and preparation Demoshow presentation: demo content, other communication tools: poster, handout; preparation and resource needs, invitees, presentation style.
14 2-May DemoShow Demonstrate project accomplishments to the public.
15 May 6 to 10 No class: Wrap-up meeting week .

Texts

Required

[RD] Steve C McConnell, Rapid Development: Taming Wild Software Schedules, 647 pages (July 1996), Microsoft Press; ISBN: 1556159005
[MTSP] Watts S. Humphrey, Managing the Software Process, 494 pages (May 1989), Addison-Wesley Pub Co; ISBN: 0201180952

Recommended

[SPSG] Steve M. McConnell, Software Project Survival Guide, 250 pages (November 1997), Microsoft Press; ISBN: 1572316217
[CC] Steve C McConnell, Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction, 857 pages (May 1993), Microsoft Press; ISBN: 1556154844
[DP] Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, John Vlissides, Grady Booch (Designer), Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software, 395 pages 1 edition (October 1995), Addison-Wesley Pub Co; ISBN: 0201633612

Interesting

Watts S. Humphrey, A Discipline for Software Engineering (SEI Series in Software Engineering), 789 pages (January 1995), Addison-Wesley Pub Co; ISBN: 0201546108
Others.

Student Responsibilities and Evaluation

Responsibilities

Each student is primarily responsible for interning on their project, making progress towards its goal, and transferring their results to the client at the end of the semester.
Each student will make a presentations to the class: either a project progress report or a code review.  Each student will summarize the project at the DemoShow.
Students must attend the kick-off, transition and wrap-up meetings.  Students shall prepare for the meetings and participate in these meetings.

Grading

Student evaluation is distributed as follows:
 
Two in-class presentations (Progress report or code review, and DemoShow) 10% each
Three meetings: Kick-off, transition and wrap-up (evaluated on preparation and constructive participation)  10% each 
Emailed progress reports (evaluated on participation) 10%
Contribution to analysis to development transition meeting report (evaluated on content, responsiveness to assignment) 10%
Contribution to demo show handout and/or poster 10%
Contribution to final wrap-up report (evaluated on content) 10%
Subjective overall accomplishment in the project, including class participation 10%

Course Resources

Whenever possible, clients will provide computing resources. In addition, the CS department will try to provide computing when needed.  Please ask me if you need software, extra disk space, access to a computer, or another resource.

Communications

Email and the email beacon

All students and client supervisors must read and respond to Internet email daily. All students should join the NYUITProjectsSpring2002@yahoogroups.comclass mailing list.  Each project will form its own email group. Join that too.

Project liaison

Each project  needs a team liaison responsible for organizing interaction with the client. The liaison's job includes If you want to be your team's liaison, please volunteer.

Progress report
Each student must send your project email group a weekly email progress report on Thursday before class. While this sounds bureaucratic and impersonal, it is the only way I can efficiently track all the students in the course.  In addition, it is an excellent habit.  Many of the best run software organizations track employee progress with simple reports like these.
Spend 5-15 minutes composing the progress report (so if you devote 8 hours per week to the class the report takes at most 3% of class time). Writing the report will help you evaluate how you're doing. The report contains:



This document and associated materials were authored or compiled by Arthur Goldberg. This compilation and supporting electronic teaching materials may be freely used for non-commercial use provided any electronic or print version includes this notice. All rights reserved. Copyright Arthur P. Goldberg, 1996 through 2002.