A capstone course at the University of Maryland
Software engineering deals with the quality issues that arise during construction of
applications involving computers and systems. How do we precisely determine all
that an intended program is supposed to do? And how do we proceed in situations
where we can't know everything about a proposed system in advance?
How do we know a proposed system will
actually solve a given problem? How do we communicate our needs among developers, and
how do we keep them working together productively? As the system is constructed,
how do we confirm that it does what we really wanted it to do? Among all the ways
one might solve a problem, which designs and implementations will bring
the lowest costs, least risk and greatest long-term value? 435 will address these questions
and many more.
Because this is a 'capstone' course (read: lab class)
we are interested in ensuring that not only
do students have knowledge of software engineering topics, but also that
students have given us an evidence-based way to confirm whether they possess
patterns of thought which are appropriate to our discipline. We require substantial
pre-reqs to enter the class in anticipation that we will integrate that prior preparation
with our content, then we will help students learn better how to apply it.
[Here, let's say that again in order to be clear: this course is not about teaching
you how to program or training you to use specific tools. It is about helping you learn
how to create the right products in a reliable and cost-effective way. You know ...
like we're engineers.]
Our goals are thus substantial, and our strategy for reaching them involves solving a
challenging problem in collaboration with other students on a team. What we also just
cautioned is that demand for time outside the scheduled class period is substantial, chiefly
in meetings with the team, mentor and project clients. Please plan accordingly.
- REGISTERED STUDENTS track the
Students in the spring 2023 offering can find what we are doing at any time by checking
the dashboard. We don't use ELMS, we don't use Piazza. Our dashboard
is the single place in all the universe to check for what we are doing in order
to succeed in this class. Others are welcome to track our progress here too! See what
we are about.
- PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS (those who
are thinking about 435 or just SE curious) should read
Is 435 right for me?. Except for dates and specifics
of the projects, our dash and syllabus for fall 2023 semester will look pretty much like
what you see here now.
At this time the campus is set for on-campus instruction. Things may change! Who knows?
We don't, so this syllabus may be updated as other information about campus conditions become
- Location: CSIC 1121
- Time: Tues/Thurs - 2:00PM to 3:15PM
- None are required, though many resources are
available and we will recommend that you complement the lectures and project
activities with regular study of such supporting materials. In addition, it is
not unusual during the semester to develop a need for other or specialized
technical references depending on the project directions; those materials are your
- As soon as possible in the new semester, we recommend that you take the
Clifton Strengths, an assessment you can read about at that
linked site. We will use
this information in understanding team dynamics as we get moving on projects, and to show how
this understanding can improve our project outcomes. This is a purchase item and while several
options are available there, the "Top 5 Strengths" (a cost of $19.99 for the students
product) will be adequate for our
purposes. We will announce how to submit these at the start of class and will use these in our
very first lab. Note: if you already
have a Strengths report from a previous course or internship, then that will be fine -
no need to buy it again.
- Any in-class portion of the final exam will be as scheduled by campus; we use
the time slot set by campus and make no attempt to be creative in adjusting it.
As disclosed on the syllabus and announced on the first day of class, the final
may include a take-home component, which would be due during the scheduled exam
- According to the campus standard exam table, our final exam is set for
Wednesday, May 17 from 10:30am to 12:30pm.
Accordingly the take home portion of our final
will thus be released a few days earlier and will be due at 12:30PM sharp on the 17th.
Copyright © 2017-2023 James M. Purtilo
- Dr. James Purtilo (purtilo *at* umd.edu)
- Office: 5214 IRB
- Phone: 301.405.2706
- Office Hours: in-person and zoom as individually scheduled