CS Capstone Class Engages Tech Companies for Enhancing Educational Experience

Publish Date: 05/10/2011

Spring 2011 saw the successful completion of a new Systems & Networking Capstone class (CS 4284), the main goal of which is to impart a hands-on project development experience to the students. The class requires students to apply various CS concepts they have learned through the years to tackle a semester-long project involving problems of practical importance.  The students also gain useful experience of working in larger teams, organizing and presenting their findings, and designing and developing innovative solutions to previously unexplored issues.

Dr. Ali R. Butt taught the first offering of the course, which comprised 14 students. Instead of relying on in-home projects, the class reached out to CSRC companies, Rackspace Inc. and Booz Allen Hamilton, to identify practical problems that would not only help the students better understand the CS concepts, but also develop solutions that can be adopted in real life. The class was divided into three groups, and undertook state-of-the-art projects in virtual machine management, cloud computing, and organizing large-scale data using emerging technologies such as NoSQL.  Engineers from both companies worked closely with the teams to identify key challenges, and develop open-source software solutions that would benefit the students as well as produce useful software artifacts that the IT community can use in general.  Moreover, the companies also supported the projects through monetary and resource donations, which is the first time such a relationship has been established between a CS capstone class and CSRC companies.

The class was a great success, with students gaining useful industry experience. Moreover, two of the three groups earned top “Industry Choice Awards” at the recent VTURCS undergraduate research symposium.

More information about the project and the CS 4284 capstone course can be found on Dr. Butt's CS 4284 homepage.

Pictured: (standing, left to right) Jonathan Weldon, Val Komarov, Andrew Street, Paul Trampert, Kyle Morgan, Michael Lowman, Conor Scott, David Mazary, Casey Link, James Cook, and Dr. Ali Butt.

(seated, left to right) David McGrath, Scott Luxenberg, Brett Jones, and Jonathan Berkhahn