Greetings Dr St. Clair,
To answer your first question, the process of education our students
includes production of full documentation from requirements to user
and developers manuals. As with all student projects, some students
do better than others. In any case, we do teach the students and
push them to perform well.
As will all projects, support is dependent on the nature of the
project, character of the students and faculty involved, and
commitment of the department and/or university. In most cases, the
students become support personnel in some manner. In some cases, the
original students who produced the product start their own company to
provide the support. Other cases, the department or university steps
in and provides the management and workforce to support the product.
The third question is rather dynamic. We usually try to make
products that address the clients needs. This is why we teach the
students to take time to converse with client and evaluate the problem
in depth to ensure their understanding of the issues before they write
up requirements, much less code the project. Because the developers
are students, learning is not an obstacle for them. Naturally, we
try to avoid forcing the client to retool, and part of the
understanding of the issues include the constraints of the client.
In some cases, retooling is unnecessary and unfruitful and in other
cases the fruits are abundantly clear. The discernment of the two
is another thing that we teach our students in evaluating problems.
I am truly honored by the complement of my department. As said
earlier, it would be surprising that other universities don't
emphasize such practical learning techniques. In any case, we are
always happy to entertain projects both at the undergraduate and
On May 24, 2008, at 5:27 PM, Douglas St.Clair wrote:
You department sounds like a really super resource. A couple
1. what level of documentation do users receive from a project.
2. how do you provide support after delivery
3. your menu sounded like it contained all the newest tools but what
about a project for a department loaded with old people like you who
had coded up to this point in assembler and LISP. Would you require
the old guys to retool or would you use familiar tools that old
people are familiar with.
On May 24, 2008, at 5:57 PM, Daniel Beatty wrote:
Dr. Kennedy is correct on the question assessment for these kinds
of projects. Fortunately universities such as my own have a
program to allow undergraduates to work on problems and projects
such as the ones that Dr. Craig and Dr. Kennedy have alluded to.
If it were a problem needing a graduate student, it would most
likely be closely tied to there these or dissertation. As my
dissertation deals with much larger databases, data mining, and
analysis of the non-textual data they contain I can easily mentor
students learning and working on projects such as these. For the
undergraduates, it is an opportunity to work on real world
problems. I would be surprised if U.C. Davis did not have a
My advise students who would solve such a problem as presented by
Dr Craig or Dr. Kennedy would to understand the problem first.
This expertise is something that both Dr. Kennedy and Dr. Craig
both can provide such students. Second, an analysis of technology
that can solve this problem. Most programming languages (compiled
and scripting) can handle the analysis methods and database
references mentioned. I would probably have them prototype the
solution in something like Objective-C with Core Data, since it is
a relatively quick solution. Then I would have them transpose it
to a suitable database (MySQL, Postegres, etc.), transcribe the
operations into a product like Java using Google Web Toolkit, and
write the back-end that would be their choice of server
technologies (PHP, Ruby on Rails, Python, Java Web
Objects, ...). That last step ensures cross-platform success as
all of the tools are open source, run on the platforms in question,
and have well documented procedures to ensure their success. All
of these techniques are subjects that I am trained to teach, as
many Ph.D. students throughout academia.
In the event that such a program does not exist at your university,
give either my advisor or myself an email. We would are always
happy to work projects into our labs as this encourages both
learning and research in computer science, which is our
department's purpose for being.
I hope that helps,
“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where
they went.” -- Will Rogers
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