Software Engineering and Project Management in CS Projects vs. "Real-World" Projects: A Case Study

D. Knudson and A. Radermacher (USA)


Software Engineering, Software Project Management, Education


Computer Science Capstone projects give undergraduate seniors an opportunity to apply the knowledge that they have gained in their previous course work. At NDSU teams working with local and regional companies undertake real-world projects. In the past 5 years over 60 projects have been completed for companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Rockwell Collins, John Deere, Honeywell, ATK, 3M, Polaris, Sundog, Noridian, West Corp. and Thomson Reuters. These projects concentrate on Software Development CMMI Maturity Level 2 processes and project management concepts including Project Initiation, Planning, Execution, Control and Closure. A great deal of effort has been put into creating processes that allow these projects to be done in a manner that is very similar to an industrial setting. However, there are some fundamental differences that cannot be overcome. These need to be acknowledged and explained to the students. This paper describes the inherent differences and similarities between these projects and true industry based development. This analysis is based on over 35 years experience managing projects in industry for companies such as Bell Labs, ITT, Honeywell, Northrop Grumman and Microsoft, coordinating over 60 Computer Science Capstone projects and performing software process audits of these projects.

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