pchapin's Senior Projects Introductory Information

General Overview

This course is different than any other course in our program and maybe different than any other course you've ever taken. For one thing this course is really spans two semesters. In the fall you take CIS-4721 and in the spring you take CIS-4722 to complete your Senior Project experience. In this course you will, while working with others, research, design, implement, and document a significant project of your own choosing. At the end of the year you will formally present your project to an audience of your peers, instructors, and potential employers.

In this course you will pull together information that you've learned throughout your educational career. Ideally your project should contain both software and IT aspects, forcing you to integrate topics from both of those areas. If you are a computer engineering technology student your project should also include a hardware aspect.

The lecture content of this course will be mostly non-technical and cover topics such as scheduling, budgeting, professional ethics, giving effective presentations, and so forth. In addition to designing and building your project, you will also be required to write several supporting documents (including a project web site) and do several practice presentations.

This course will be run more like a business operation than like a traditional class. I will sometimes play the role of the project manager and sometimes play the role of the customer. In addition to the technical correctness of your project, you will have to be concerned about the cost and time of development. You will need to convince both your peers and your project manager (me) of the viability of your project and of the feasibility of your approach. Questions about these matters may be raised at your final presentation by outside experts. You will want to be ready for them.

An important aspect of this course is working with others. Accordingly, you will be strongly encouraged to work on a team. You may encounter some personality conflicts or differences in working style between team members that cause problems. Learning to deal with others in a constructive and positive way is an extremely valuable skill that in the real world is often much more important than your technical skills. Developing your interpersonal skills is a significant aspect of this course.


Peter C. Chapin. Office: BLP-415 on the Williston campus. Office hours are by appointment. Phone: (802) 879-2367 (voice mail active). Email: pchapin@vtc.edu. I will respond to email within 24 hours, not including weekends or holidays. Email is the best way to contact me. I can also sometimes be found on the FreeNode IRC network under the nickname of pcc. In addition, you should not hesitate to contact other faculty who are specialized in the area of your project. In most cases they will be happy to offer advice and you are encouraged to seek them out.


This course is the capstone course of the BS.CIT and BS.CSE programs (or BS.CPE program if you are a computer engineering technology student). Although there are no specific courses listed as prerequisites, you will need to draw from your background with many different courses. You will also need to do some independent research to extend your knowledge in areas specific to your project.


There is no official text for this course. Instead you will need to consult references online, in the library, or from other sources. Class handouts will be provided to supplement the material covered in lecture.

My home page contains various documents of general interest.

Grading Policy

Grading in this course tends to be highly subjective. It is my responsibility as the instructor to keep you appraised of your standing in the class. In general, you can expect a reasonable grade as long as you take the course seriously and make steady progress toward your goals. Unlike other courses where I use a strict point system, in this course I will grade according to a weighted system. There are four components to your grade in this course.

  1. Documentation. 25% You will need to create several documents of various kinds for this course.

  2. Presentations. 25% There will be two presentations scheduled to help you build important presentational skills.

  3. Project. 25% This grade component refers to your progress on your project and its functionality (Does it work?). The relative complexity of the project and the number of members on your team will be taken into consideration.
  4. Professionalism. 25% This refers to matters such as timeliness, following a good engineering process, working well with others, and similar things.

There are no exams or quizzes.

Since you will be working in teams your grade will be affected by the performance of your teammates. However, it is my intention to provide ways for each of you to distinguish yourselves as well. To this end I will want to know who is assigned what task on each team (you will need to keep me appraised of this). In addition, I will ask you to do an evaluation of yourself and a (confidential) evaluation of your teammates. This information, while not decisive, will play a role in helping me differentiate the members of your team.

Late Policy

I have no specific late policy for this course. While lateness will negatively impact your grade to some degree, the precise amount of impact will depend on the particular circumstances. I will discuss problems with timeliness with you on a case-by-case basis as necessary.

Other Matters

Students with disabilities may request accommodation as provided within federal law. All such requests should be made by first contacting Robin Goodall, Learning Specialist, in the Center for Academic Success on the Randolph campus. She can be reached by phone at (802) 728-1278 or by email at rgoodall@vtc.edu.

Last Revised: 2018-08-07
© Copyright 2018 by Peter C. Chapin <pchapin@vtc.edu>