BIT Colombo (UCSC) final project guidelines

Monday, November 28, 2011

BIT Final project is something lot of students get mess up. Primarily because they are used to exam oriented spoon fed education system that is adapted by most as well as it is the general attitude of some students. IT is a practical subject. Industry/Society need people having skills and not those having mere paper qualifications. That is why BIT - UCSC degree program has emphasize a lot in final project. 

In the LMS, you can find some valuable guidelines on how to complete a project successfully. In addition UCSC has published an interview session on BIT final project. Following is the highlights on that interview. Interview itself is also added at the end of this post. It is highly command for each BIT student to watch that interview and prepare for the project before moving into third year. You must plan out your project and acquire necessary skills during your first and second year. So awareness of necessary skills is always helpful. Summary of the interview is as follows;

- Project is the most important subject in your BIT (UCSC) program.
- Purpose of the project is to demonstrate what you have learn in practical way.
- You get 12 credits for the project.
- Completing your project is equivalent to doing 3 modules !
   - For the project, you are expected to put up effort equivalent to following three modules.
- Expected you to do 300 hours of work (excluding report writing).
- Project work must be unique unlike facing an exam.
- Skills cheeked in the project are;
   - Technical skills: Design and development skills
   - Life skills: Time management, scope management, conflict resolution and facing practical challenges.
   - Soft skills: Report writing, communication, summarizing, presentation. 

General guidelines
- It is long term task which need planning.
- Exam study might be compressed to few weeks of hard work, but that approach is not going to work for project work.
- Selection of project topic etc... should have done before year 3 starts so that you do not have extra pressure during year 3.
- Project must have a supervisor and a client.
- Supervisor should have IT back ground but not necessarily a technical person (eg: University lecturer, IT manager or IT professional like software engineer.
- It is better that supervisor and the client is different. But at situations, it is OK, unless conflicts occur.
- If the client actually uses your solution, it is a plus point, but not a necessity. But usefulness of the product is a must.
- Extending your project/product to start your own company is encouraged.

Selecting the right project?
- Project is not just to demonstrate you skills, it should be useful to client. (Improved productivity/ ease of process etc..)
- This course does not promote research project simply due to lack of time for students (being an external degree). We encourage traditional client demand project.
- When selecting the topic and scope ask yourself the question that “will this allow me to spend 300 hours of work?”
- Bigger the scope, look for more and more reusable/generic components.
- Project should serve business purpose. (Justify this in the report)
- Selected project should justify the 300 hours of work
- Selecting a medium size project is preferred
eg :     Accounting
          Customer Relationship management
          Human resource software
          Outsourcing relationship management, etc..)
          Loan origination software

- Justify that your project is not reinventing an old solution. (e.g.: New technology, better design, more efficient, innovative solutions are justifiable)
- Develop one integrated system and not two or few isolated systems

Proceed with project
- Doing a literature review in the problem domain is required.
   - What are available solutions?
   - What is your unique solution?
   - As part of the report, state identified points and references.
- No restrictions in selection of technologies/languages. But justify the selection.
- Do not reinvent the wheel. Use of libraries, open source frameworks etc... is encouraged. But in the project you should also done considerable work to develop the product.
- While developing, if you find that you have already spent more than 300 hours (of productive and efficient time) and some modules are still pending, you better hold those and concentrate on finishing current modules. Better to have a working smaller software than crappy/buggy big software.
- Have enough test data during the demo
- Test thoroughly with different test data. Document your test scenarioes.
Project Report
- Students following internal courses get opportunities to write reports in the form of various assignments. But in BIT this is your first and final practical task / report that is evaluated. So it may be tough at firth. So prepare for it.

Project presentation
- 30 min (20 min to present/demonstrate and 10 min to examiners to ask questions)
- Explain overview/summarize as well as demonstrate the software  rather than explain one or two aspects only.
- Do not use more than 5 slides for the presentation.
- Practice and come (eg: present it to superviser/friend beforehand) for the final presentation.
- Demonstrate important usage scenarios than trivial aspects like trivial validations (But having those implemented is important.)

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