CMDA 4864: Capstone Project Course

Virginia Tech · Fall 2017

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 guide. For information about sponsoring future CMDA capstone projects, contact the instructor, Mark Embree (embree@vt.edu).

Classes:

Monday/Wednesday, 4-5:15pm, New Classroom Building 220

Instructor:

Mark Embree, embree@vt.edu, 575 McBryde

Office Hours:   

Monday 1:30-3pm, Thursday 1:30-3pm, or by appointment

GTAs:   

Austin Cole (davidc89@vt.edu), office hour on Tuesday 1-2pm in OSB
Romcholo Macatula (romcholo@vt.edu), office hour on Friday 1-2pm in OSB

Assignments:

Team tech memos: TM1, TM2, TM3, TM4, TM5, TM6
Individual reflections: Ethics, Leadership
Presentations: Midterm Presentation, Tools and Techniques Workshop (schedule), Final Presentation (schedule)
Final Report: specification


13 December 2017

Team time and coaching sessions.
Download the final presentation schedule. (Feel free to invite your friends, mentors, and instructors.)

To Do: Complete your Team Final Project Report by 11:59pm on Wednesday 13 December.
To Do: Prepare your Final Project Presentation for 15 or 18 December.
To Do: Final CATME evaluation due Tuesday 19 December.

11 December 2017

Team time and coaching sessions.
Download the final presentation schedule. (Feel free to invite your friends, mentors, and instructors.)

To Do: Complete your Team Final Project Report by 11:59pm on Wednesday 13 December.
To Do: Prepare your Final Project Presentation for 15 or 18 December.

6 December 2017

Team time and coaching sessions.
Download the final presentation schedule. (Feel free to invite your friends, mentors, and instructors.)

To Do: Complete Individual Tech Memo on Leadership by 11:59pm on Thursday 7 December.
To Do: Complete your Team Final Project Report by 11:59pm on Wednesday 13 December.
To Do: Prepare your Final Project Presentation for 15 or 18 December.


4 December 2017

Team time and coaching sessions.

To Do: Complete Individual Tech Memo on Leadership by 11:59pm on Thursday 7 December .
To Do: Complete your Team Final Project Report by 11:59pm on Wednesday 13 December.


29 November 2017

Class discussion of Chapters 6 and 8 of Weapons of Math Destruction.

To Do: Complete Individual Tech Memo on Ethics by 11:59pm on Thursday 30 November.
To Do: Complete Individual Tech Memo on Leadership by 11:59pm on Thursday 7 December .
To Do: Complete your Team Final Project Report by 11:59pm on Wednesday 13 December.


27 November 2017

Team time and coaching sessions.

To Do: Complete Individual Tech Memo on Ethics by 11:59pm on Thursday 30 November.


15 November 2017

Team time and coaching sessions.

To Do: Specify your team's preferences for a final presentation time by 11:59pm on Thursday 16 November.
To Do: Complete CATME team survey by 11:59pm on Thursday 16 November.
To Do: Complete Tech Memo 6 (Progress Report) by 11:59pm on Thursday 16 November.
To Do: Complete Individual Tech Memo on Ethics by 11:59pm on Thursday 30 November.


13 November 2017

Team time and coaching sessions.

To Do: Specify your team's preferences for a final presentation time by 11:59pm on Thursday 16 November.
To Do: Complete CATME team survey by 11:59pm on Thursday 16 November.
To Do: Complete Tech Memo 6 (Progress Report) by 11:59pm on Thursday 16 November.


8 November 2017

Team prep work for the Tools and Techniques Workshop this evening.

To Do: Upload your slides and handout from the Tools and Techniques Workshop by 11:59pm on Wednesday November 8.
To Do: Complete Tech Memo 6 (Progress Report) by 11:59pm on Thursday 16 November.


6 November 2017

Team prep work for the Tools and Techniques Workshop.

To Do: Prepare for your presentation at the November 8 Tools and Techniques Workshop on Wednesday November 8.
To Do: Complete Tech Memo 6 (Progress Report) by 11:59pm on Thursday 16 November.


1 November 2017

Lecture about ethics of data and modeling.

To Do: Prepare for your presentation at the November 8 Tools and Techniques Workshop on Wednesday November 8.


30 October 2017

See the revised syllabus (with updated schedule).
Check out the evaluation rubric for the Tools and Techniques Workshop.
Check out the schedule for the Tools and Techniques Workshop.

To Do: Propose a topic for your presentation at the November 8 Tools and Techniques Workshop by Monday October 30.
To Do: Attend our discussion of ethics in modeling and data in Torgersen 2150 on Wednesday (4-5:15pm)


25 October 2017

Class discussion of Chapters 3 and 5 of Weapons of Math Destruction.

To Do: Propose a topic for your presentation at the November 8 Tools and Techniques Workshop by Monday October 30.


23 October 2017

Post-midterm presentation feedback

To Do: Read Introduction, Chapter 3, Chapter 5 of Weapons of Math Destruction for discussion on 25 October.
To Do: Propose a topic for your presentation at the November 8 Tools and Techniques Workshop by Monday October 30.


19 October 2017

Midterm Presentations, 7-10pm, McBryde 455 (Math Common Room)


18 October 2017

Midterm Presentation coaching
Teams presenting on Thursday night attend 20-minute coaching sessions.

To Do: Read Introduction, Chapter 3, Chapter 5 of Weapons of Math Destruction for discussion on 25 October.


17 October 2017

Midterm Presentations, 7-10pm, McBryde 455 (Math Common Room)


16 October 2017

Midterm Presentation coaching
Teams presenting on Tuesday night attend 20-minute coaching sessions.

To Do: Complete Tech Memo 5 (Project Scheduling) by 11:59pm on Thursday 12 October.
To Do: Prepare for your Midterm Presentation next week: talk specification and grading rubric.

11 October 2017

Midterm Presentation tips
Edward Tufte's discussion of the Columbia analysis
Peter Norvig's rendering of the Gettysburg Address in PowerPoint

To Do: Complete Tech Memo 5 (Project Scheduling) by 11:59pm on Thursday 12 October.
To Do: Prepare for your Midterm Presentation next week: talk specification and grading rubric.


9 October 2017

Project scheduling and Gantt charts (Wikipedia)

To Do: Complete Tech Memo 5 (Project Scheduling) by 11:59pm on Thursday 12 October.
To Do: Sign up for a time for your midterm presentation and coaching session (see email).


4 October 2017

Class discussion of the Introduction and Chapters 1 and 2 of Weapons of Math Destruction.

Resource: LaTeX/BibTeX source code for Tech Memo 4: tm4.tex, design.bib.
Resource: LaTeX/BibTeX source code for Tech Memo 5: tm5.tex.
Resource: Wikipedia page on Gantt charts

To Do: Complete Tech Memo 4 (Scoring Matrices) by 11:59pm on Thursday 5 October.
To Do: Complete Tech Memo 5 (Project Scheduling) by 11:59pm on Thursday 12 October.


2 October 2017

Team time to work on scoring matrices
Resource: LaTeX/BibTeX source code for Tech Memo 4: tm4.tex, design.bib.

To Do: Read Introduction, Chapter 1, Chapter 2 of Weapons of Math Destruction for discussion on 4 October.
To Do: Complete Tech Memo 4 (Scoring Matrices) by 11:59pm on Thursday 5 October.


27 September 2017

Scoring matrices for selecting solution strategies that best fit the criteria of your project.
Resource: LaTeX/BibTeX source code for Tech Memo 4: tm4.tex, design.bib.

To Do: Complete Tech Memo 3 (Brainstorming) by 11:59pm on Thursday 28 September.
To Do: Read Introduction, Chapter 1, Chapter 2 of Weapons of Math Destruction for discussion on 4 October.
To Do: Complete Tech Memo 4 (Scoring Matrices) by 11:59pm on Thursday 5 October.


25 September 2017

Brainstorming techniques
Tech Memo 2 returned
Note: Austin has moved his office hours to 1-2pm Tuesdays in OSB.

To Do: Complete Tech Memo 3 (Brainstorming) by 11:59pm on Thursday 28 September.
To Do: Read Introduction, Chapter 1, Chapter 2 of Weapons of Math Destruction for discussion on 4 October.


20 September 2017

Niño's 4E leadership model.
Servant leadership and Hermann Hesse's Journey to the East.

To Do: Complete Tech Memo 2 (Project Criteria) by 11:59pm on Thursday 21 September.
To Do: Complete Tech Memo 3 (Brainstorming) by 11:59pm on Thursday 28 September.
To Do: Read Introduction, Chapter 1, Chapter 2 of Weapons of Math Destruction for discussion on 4 October.


18 September 2017

Leadership: brainstorming examples of notable leaders

To Do: Complete Tech Memo 2 (Project Criteria) by 11:59pm on Thursday 21 September.


13 September 2017

We discussed Tuckman's stages of group development.

To Do: Complete Tech Memo 1 (Problem Statement) by 11:59pm on Thursday 14 September.
To Do: Complete Tech Memo 2 (Project Criteria) by 11:59pm on Thursday 21 September.

Resource: LaTeX source code for Tech Memo 2: tm2.tex.
Resource: Information about the PGF LaTeX package for drawing fancy diagrams.


11 September 2017

Tips for interacting with clients, writing technical memos.

To Do: Complete Tech Memo 1 (Problem Statement) by 11:59pm on Thursday 14 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.


6 September 2017

Two-minute presentations from the MCM/ICM teams.
Announcement of project teams.
For a preview of Weapons of Math Destruction, check out this recent episode of the design podcast 99% Invisible.

To Do: Complete Tech Memo 1 (Problem Statement) by 11:59pm on Thursday 14 September.

Resources: LaTeX crash course / template: techmemo.pdf; source code: techmemo.tex, mybibfile.bib.


30 August 2017

Discussion of our twenty-four project proposals.
Warm-up exercise: Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM) / Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling (ICM) problems.

To Do: Complete the project preference survey after Wednesday's class, and by 11:59pm on Friday 1 September 2017.

To Do: Work on MCM/ICM problem, prepare to briefly present (1-2 slides/team) on Wednesday 6 September (and upload these slides to Canvas).
("If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter" -- Pascal)


28 August 2017

Teams of three took on the Marshmallow Challenge.
We discussed the course contract (revised) and the twenty-four project proposals.

Download a copy of the electronic version of the course contract and tentative schedule (revised). Please take notes of the dates on the schedule, particularly the evening midterm presentations (Tuesday 17 October, Thursday 19 October), the evening Tools and Techniques Workshop (Wednesday 8 November), and the various dates of 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 outcome, final report and demonstration

Students will be evaluated on their active participation in their teams, through graded written and oral assignments throughout the semester, and 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. 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 the Dean of Students. We will ensure that these needs are appropriately addressed.