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Senior Project Sponsorship

Frequently Asked Questions for Senior Project Sponsors

Is your organization interested in sponsoring a Senior Project? Browse the FAQ's below for more information.

    What is Senior Project?

    Senior Project is a capstone course completed by every Software Engineering senior. Small teams of students are assigned to solve challenging, real-world software issues for companies and organizations. External corporate and non-profit sponsors submit proposals for projects that teams of 4 or 5 students will work on.

    Over the course of two terms, each team works with you, as the project sponsor, applying the software engineering skills that the students learned in class and on co-op. They carry the project from inception through an entire software development lifecycle. The end result is a functional software tool ready for use by your organization.

    How will my organization benefit from sponsoring a Senior Project?
    • Help educate the next generation of software engineers who you might want as employees
    • Get the benefits of any work the team does in clarifying your problem, designing a solution, and building a working system
    • Have fun working with a team of software engineering students who are excited about the challenge of your project
    What is the size, scope and duration of these projects?

    Teams generally consist of 4-5 seniors. Students work on the project for two terms (about 30 weeks). During this time, each team member is expected to devote an average of 10 hours/week on the project.

    Project scope should be determined with this level of effort in mind. Also remember that it is unlikely that students will have detailed knowledge of the sponsor's domain. Time for acquiring this knowledge must be factored into the project’s scope.

    We are interested in projects from any application domain, and of any type including web-based systems, desktop applications, or embedded projects. A project should require the team to demonstrate their software engineering skills including requirements elicitation, design and implementation, and deployment. Our past experience has shown that web-based projects which are only client-side website development or a web interface to a database without significant backend business logic are too small in scope to require the students to demonstrate this full range of skills. Mobile aps by themselves are usually too small in scope. However, a mobile which is the front-end to a larger system that the team must also create does typically have sufficient scope. If you have any questions contact the Senior Project Coordinator at seniorprojects@se.rit.edu.

    If your project has a scope beyond software, we can work with the other colleges at RIT to create a multi-disciplinary team that covers all the aspects of your project.

    Who works on the project?

    The project sponsor works with a senior team and their faculty coach.

    The students are responsible for the completion of the project. The faculty coach acts primarily as guide and mentor. The faculty coach will not actively manage the project, nor will he or she assume any technical role other than general consultant.

    What process is followed over the course of the project?

    The ideal project is one where the student team demonstrates their skills in requirements elicitation and analysis, architecture and design, implementation, testing, and delivery over the course of two terms. The specific process each team uses is part of the negotiation between the sponsor and team, under the guidance of the team’s faculty coach. If your project will require adherence to specific internal, industry, or regulatory standards, or that the team follows a particular process methodology, please include this information in your proposal description.

    What are my responsibilities and commitments as a sponsor?

    During the project, you are expected to commit the resources needed to ensure the project’s success, including personnel, documents, specifications, etc.

    Specific responsibilities include:

    • Prepare an initial project description summary.
    • Provide any hardware and software not currently available at the RIT facilities, including software licenses or remote access so that the team can perform all project work from the RIT facilities. Hardware and software can be a permanent donation to the Department of Software Engineering or loaned only for the project duration.
    • Ensure the accessibility of personnel throughout the project to help the team understand both the domain and the problem being addressed - such accessibility is particularly critical during the initial phases and will require that the sponsor's personnel participate in meetings at RIT, or remotely with the student team.
    • Participate in team, product, and process presentations and reviews.
    • Provide information the faculty can use to assess the success of the project.
    • Assess the completed project, document your assessment, and submit it to the Department of Software Engineering.
    What are the minimum deliverables required by the software engineering program?

    The following lists the artifacts that the software engineering program requires each project team to deliver through the project. These are generic deliverables applicable to every project. There are no actual product deliverables in the list because those product-related deliverables will vary widely based on the project and the sponsor's individual interests.

    When writing your proposal, you should make sure to specify the project-specific intermediate or final deliverables you would like to get from the team. These might include: implementation code you want delivered in increments or at the end of the project; documents, such as, requirements, design, user manual, or installation instructions; additional presentations or training sessions; product deployment; or any other deliverables you believe are necessary for a successful project, and for you to use the system that the team develops.

    Each team will be responsible for providing the following required deliverables:

    • Project website holding all work products and project artifacts maintained on the se.rit.edu web server
    • Project plan, schedule and process methodology definition prepared by the end of week 3 of the first term.
    • Tracking report for team time/effort and at least two product/process metrics appropriate to the project and development methodology. Tracking reports updated on the project website at least every two weeks.
    • Interim status and final project presentations
    • Project poster and presentation
    • Project technical report
    • Interim and final team self-assessment
    • Curriculum reflection report
    How do I propose a Senior Project?

    You will need to complete a Senior Project Proposal to provide a description of your project. Proposals are typically a 4 to 6 page document that briefly outlines the nature and scope of the project. The instructions for completing a project proposal provide guidelines to assist you in the process of writing your proposal.

    The Senior Project Coordinator will work with you to edit the proposal for appropriateness, clarity, and scope. If you have any questions during any stage of the process, feel free to contact the Senior Project Coordinator at seniorprojects@se.rit.edu.

    How are proposals reviewed?

    There are three levels of proposal review.

    1. Any comments and editing suggested by the Senior Project Coordinator is the first review. The Coordinator rarely removes a proposal at this point, and passes all proposals to the next review stage. You should, however, address the Coordinator's comments because they typically track the comments made in the second review stage.
    2. We have always been in the fortunate position to receive more project proposals than the number of teams we will have. The software engineering faculty do the second review and vet proposals down to 2 or 3 more than the number of teams we will have. The top reasons for discarding a proposal are: scope is too small, scope has a limited range particularly when limited to mostly data analysis or algorithm development instead of the full-scale engineering of a significant software system, and a project description that left a majority of the reviewers wondering what the team was really going to do.
    3. Finally, the students get to rank their preferred projects.
    How are students assigned to projects?

    Each student registered for Senior Project ranks their preferred projects, and optionally can indicate one student he or she would like on their team and one not to be on the team. The faculty form teams and assign the projects. We have typically received more proposals than we have senior teams, so some project proposals will not be assigned to a team.

      How are intellectual property and proprietary information handled?

      RIT's Intellectual Property policies give students ownership of everything they create as part of their coursework. For senior project, students will assign their rights to the project artifacts and intellectual property to the project sponsor, if this is required. Students who do not want to give up these rights will work on a faculty created project where the students will retain all rights. There are three types of sponsored projects: full commercial, limited use, and open source. These assignment types are explained in the project proposal form.

      Senior project is the culminating activity for the students' software engineering program. All project work is assumed to be non-proprietary so that students can freely talk about their work to prospective employers or graduate programs. If a project requires the sponsor to divulge proprietary information this must be specifically identified as confidential. We require that no more than 25% of the project scope be considered confidential. The project agreements describe the process for disclosing proprietary information.

      Students will sign one of our standard course project agreements. The Student Course Project Intellectual Property and Non-Disclosure Agreement is intended primarily for commercial project sponsors who want to maintain full rights to the project artifacts. The Student Course Project Limited Use and Non-Disclosure Agreement allows the project sponsor to use and modify the artifacts for their own use but the team members retain all intellectual property and commercialization rights. The last agreement is the Student Course Project Open Source Agreement for projects that the sponsor want put into an open source community. The faculty coach for a project will sign a standard Faculty Course Project Non-Disclosure Agreement.

      If these unmodified standard agreements are not acceptable to you, or your legal counsel, we will not be able to assign a team to your project.

      Can I propose a project which requires multi-disciplinary skills?

      We work closely with the multi-disciplinary senior design projects in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering. This allows us to accept projects that may need mechanical, electrical, or computer engineering participation. Depending on the nature of the project, and the relative size of the software component, the project may run in software engineering or in KGCOE's multi-disciplinary senior design program. In either case, an appropriate set of students from multiple disciplines will be assigned to work on the project.

      If your project might require graphic design, or participation from the College of Business, we can work with other colleges at RIT to create a student team for your project.

      When should I submit a proposal?

      A Request for Proposals is sent out in the February to March timeframe with proposals due by mid-May. Please submit your proposal early. This will give us time to work with you to modify the scope of the project as necessary. If you would like to be added to the mailing list for proposal solicitation, contact the Senior Project Coordinator at seniorprojects@se.rit.edu.

      What organizations have sponsored a Senior Projects in the past?
      • Bike New York
      • Genesee Valley Region National Ski Patrol
      • Harris Corporation, RF Communications Division
      • J P Morgan
      • Lockheed Martin
      • The MITRE Corporation
      • PAETEC Communications
      • RIT School of Film and Animation
      • RIT Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services
      • Society for Total Emergency Programs (STEP) Council of the Genesee Region
      • United States Food and Drug Administration
      • University of Rochester
      • Wegmans Food Markets
      Can I see examples of past projects?

      Yes. Either click on the "Browse Senior Projects" link in the sidebar or click here to see previous and in-progress senior projects!

      I have other questions or want to submit a proposal. Who should I contact?

      Dr. Jim Vallino coordinates the software engineering senior projects. You can contact the Senior Project Coordinator at seniorprojects@se.rit.edu.