CMDA 4864: Capstone Project Course

Virginia Tech · Fall 2018

CMDA 4864 is the culminating course in Virginia Tech's Computational Modeling and Data Analytics degree. Students spend the semester working in a team of 3-4 students on a project proposed by a client from industry or a Virginia Tech program. Projects were proposed according to this proposal guide. For information about sponsoring CMDA capstone projects in the future, contact the instructor, Mark Embree (embree@vt.edu).

Classes:

MW section: Monday/Wednesday, 4-5:15pm, New Classroom Building 220
TR section: Tuesday/Thursday, 3:30-4:45pm, New Classroom Building 120

Instructors:

Mark Embree, embree@vt.edu
Office Hours (in McBryde 575): Monday 1:30-3pm, Thursday 1:30-3pm, or by appointment
Fred Faltin, ffaltin@vt.edu
Office Hours (in OSB = Old Security Building): Wednesday 10-11am, Thursday 10-11am, or by appointment

GTAs:   

Lata Kodali (latak215@vt.edu), office hours by appointment
Romcholo Macatula (romcholo@vt.edu), office hours on Friday 1:30-3:30pm in OSB
Maggie Mao (mhuiying@vt.edu), office hours on Tuesday 11am-12:30pm in OSB

Assignments:  

Team tech memos: TM1, TM2, TM3
Individual reflections: forthcoming
Presentations: forthcoming
Final Report: forthcoming

Details:

Course policies and tentative schedule

Sponsors:

Special thanks to our VT clients and industrial partners for 2018 Capstone!


Class 9 ( 18-19 September)

In-class brainstorming (Tech Memo 3)
Intro to Tech Memo 4

To Do: Finish your field trip.
To Do: Work on your literature review.
To Do: Complete Tech Memo 3 (Brainstorming, Lit Review, Field Trip) by noon on Thursday 20 September.
To Do: Complete Tech Memo 4 (Evaluating Methods) (LaTeX source: tm4.tex) by noon on Friday 28 September.
To Do: Prep for the Elevator Pitch competition (drafts due 26/27 September): in class 1-2 October.


Class 8 ( 13, 17 September)

In-class brainstorming (Tech Memo 3)
Intro to CATME evaluations

To Do: Finish your field trip.
To Do: Work on your literature review.
To Do: Complete Tech Memo 3 (Brainstorming, Lit Review, Field Trip) by noon on Thursday 20 September.
To Do: Prep for the Elevator Pitch competition (drafts due 26/27 September): in class 1-2 October.


Class 7 ( 11-12 September)

Brainstorming (Tech Memo 3)
Tips for elevator pitches (presentations postponed until October 1 (MW section) and October 2 (TR section).
Elevator pitch examples (from Rice University Screech competition): Tim Becker on terrorism graphs, Cynthia Wood on computational neuroscience

To Do: Conduct some kind of "field trip" over the next week, through which you come to a deep, visceral appreciation for your project.
To Do: Complete Tech Memo 2 (Project Components and Criteria) by noon on Thursday 13 September.
To Do: Complete Tech Memo 3 (Brainstorming, Lit Review, Field Trip) by noon on Thursday 20 September.


Class 6 ( 6, 10 September)

Project components and criteria (Tech Memo 2)

To Do: Conduct some kind of "field trip" over the next two weeks, through which you come to a deep, visceral appreciation for your project.
To Do: Complete Tech Memo 2 (Project Components and Criteria) by noon on Thursday 13 September.


Class 5 ( 4-5 September)

Resume tips; field trip; stages of team dynamics.
We discussed Tuckman's stages of group development.

To Do: Conduct some kind of "field trip" over the next two weeks, through which you come to a deep, visceral appreciation for your project.
To Do: Complete Tech Memo 1 (Problem Statement) by noon on Thursday 6 September.
To Do: Complete Tech Memo 2 (Project Components and Criteria) by noon on Thursday 13 September.

Resources: LaTeX source code for Tech Memo 2: tm2.tex.


Class 4 ( 29-30 August )

Tips for interacting with clients, writing technical memos.

To Do: Complete Tech Memo 1 (Problem Statement) by noon on Thursday 6 September.

Resources: Overleaf is a collaborative LaTeX editor ("Google Docs for LaTeX"). Via VT Libraries, all VT students can get a free Overleaf Pro account. This is an excellent tool for collaboratively writing and editing tech memos. To set up your account, follow this link.

Resources: Tech memo template: techmemo.pdf, techmemo.tex, mybibfile.bib.


Class 3 ( 27-28 August )

Five minute presentations (and critiques) for Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM) warm-up projects.
Capstone Project teams announced.


Class 2 ( 22-23 August )

Warm-up exercise: Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM) / Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling (ICM) problems.

To Do: Complete the Project Preference Survey by 12 noon on Friday 24 August.
To Do: Prepare a short (5 minute) presentation about your MCM solution. (See these instructions.) Upload your slides in PDF format to Canvas by noon on the next class day.


Class 1 ( 20-21 August )

Teams of three took on the Marshmallow Challenge.
We discussed the class policies and got an overview of the twenty-seven project proposals.

To Do: Complete the Project Preference Survey by 12 noon on Friday 24 August.

Download a copy of the electronic version of the course policies and tentative schedule.

Please take note of the dates on the schedule, particularly the evening midterm presentations (9, 10, 11 October), the evening Tools and Techniques Workshop (Thursday 1 November), and the various dates for the final team presentations.

Grade Policy

Final course grades will be thus allocated:
     25%: Technical memos (six team assignments)
     10%: Individual memos (two assignments)
     20%: Team presentations (three: midterm, tools & techniques; final)
     20%: Participation (CATME and attendance)
     25%: Project results and final report

Students will be evaluated on their active participation in their teams, through graded written and oral assignments throughout the semester, informed by peer assessment. Grades will be based on both the project's technical content and the communication of that content. Any student who disengages from his or her team should expect to fail the class.

Honor Code

Most course assignments will be completed in teams: collaboration is essential. Peer evaluations must be conducted honestly. All reference sources must be properly cited. Be honest about limitations of your models and never fake data. In all dealings with peers, clients, and mentors, students must uphold the highest ethical standards, abiding by our Honor Code: "As a Hokie, I will conduct myself with honor and integrity at all times. I will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor will I accept the actions of those who do."

Absence Policy

Students are expected to attend lectures and actively participate in their groups during class, and attend team meetings outside of class. Team contributions will be assessed using the CATME assessment tool.

Text Book

Cathy O'Neil, Weapons of Math Destruction, Broadway Books, 2016.
(Our discussions about leadership will be informed by Leadership is an Art by Max De Pree, Crown Books, 1987. Students are encouraged to pick up a copy, which can be obtained inexpensively.)

Accommodations

Any student with special needs or circumstances requiring accommodation in this course is encouraged to contact the instructor during the first week of class, as well as Virginia Tech's SSD office. We will ensure that these needs are appropriately addressed.