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MSIT-SE Practicum

Course Description

Practicum is the capstone demonstration by the student of their abilities as a software engineer.

The purpose of the practicum is for you to demonstrate command of the material learned in the core and electives courses you have taken. You will do so by solving a substantial practical problem in a realistic setting. Your focus will be to understand a major aspect of the software development life cycle in detail.

While the practicum is intended for individual students, it may be completed in very small teams of no more than three people. All member of the team must have completed the core courses in the MSIT program. A team project must be more significant in scope than a project by an individual.

The practicum may be completed on campus or off campus at your place of work.

The steps for the Practicum are

Propose a project. This will take the form of a formal document and will be considered the first deliverable of the project. The proposal must include
  • an executive summary
  • a definition of the work to be completed, including
    1. deliverables
    2. timelines
    3. reviews
    4. final report
  • two advisors (A technical advisor who can evaluate the content of your work and a Carnegie Mellon faculty mentor who will evaluate the correctness of your process.)
  • a proposal of how you want the grade to be generated from the practicum material
Discuss the project. Discussions will take place with the student's faculty mentor, technical advisor, and pertinent work supervisor (in the case that the Practicum is done off-campus and in cooperation in with the student's employer).
Receive approval. Approval usually occurs after all parties involved have agreed on the proposal and deliverables, clarified issues that may have arisen in the proposal process, and contact between the mentor and the advisor has occured. Approval must be in writing from the Carnegie Mellon faculty mentor.
Begin the project. Students are to report periodically to their faculty mentor and technical advisor.  
Deliver a report that addresses the strengths and weaknesses of the technique in the chosen domain, and relate what went both well and poorly throughout the Practicum experience.

An alternative to the outlined Practicum is for a student to participate in the development phase of an existing MSE Studio project. The deliverables are the work that the student performs as part of the Studio project, in addition to his/her contribution in a specialized area of the software development process. Deliverables will always include a report which addresses the strengths and weaknesses of the technique in the chosen domain and relates what went well and what did not.

Should the student choose to work with an MSE team, he or she must secure the necessary agreements from the program directors, and submit a proposal for consideration. Additionally, the selected MSE team must agree to the participation of the MSIT student. Attendance at, and active participation in, the MSE mid- and end-of-semester presentations and deliverly of the final project products are mandatory.

*Deliverables will always include a report which addresses the strengths and weaknesses of the technique in the chosen domain and relates what went well and what did not.

Guidelines for the Practicum

Example of a practicum proposal

Practicum Proposal Form (MS Word format)

Examples of previous practicums

How to Write an Executive Summary

Crafting a Powerful Executive Summary

Practicum samples

Project TitleSponsor

Software System for Analysis of Forensic Evidence of Computer System Intrusions (2000)

Throughout the summer of 2000, several students worked with an industry partner to develop a software system for the analysis of forensic evidence of computer system intrusions. The study utilized traditional UML to describe the system design, and given that the system's data artifacts could be used as evidence in a court of law, it was essential that correctness could be provable. Validating the traditional UML design artifacts using Z, the team proved various properties related to the system.

the warhol: D.I.Y. POP (2012)

To fulfill the MSIT-SE degree Practicum requirement, students created an iPhone application that not only allows users to apply Warhol-esque effects to images and photos, but also educates them about the techniques that Warhol employed. Challenge: While several existing photo-filter apps could simulate Warhol-esque pop art on the iPhone, none of them engaged the user in making creative decisions that mirror Warhol’s original silkscreen graphics process. Solution: Now sold through the iPhone App Store, the application steps users through a process that closely mimics the artist’s hands-on, 1960s-era technique. The team spend 14 months engineering the app, which drew national media attention and an approving thumbs-up from collaborators at Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum.

Project Website

Andy Warhol Museum