Re: [ljc] Call for advice: Final year industry based projects for university students

From: Barry C.
Sent on: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 4:35 AM
Thanks for your comments guys, I had a lot of personal responses too and from discussing with people in academia and industry I have got the beginning of a specification that companies could use to help define projects that they may be able to offer to students. 

I'd be keen to hear if anyone would add/remove anything to this spec. I'd like to make it as detailed as possible to encourage as many people to consider if they have suitable projects, as it may be possible to offer students projects. Any thoughts on the below please let me know.


Projects definitely should
- Project must be something which the student can write up in a report of about 50 pages where the student can explain the background, his or her original intellectual contribution, and have something at the end that can be demonstrated.  
- A project must start not just with an end goal in terms of an implementation which will be produced, but also with a fairly clear idea of the computer science needed to reach it.  
- A project should have an easy target to reach, so that it's a reasonable expectation that almost any student taking it and putting some work in would get there, but if they get no further it's a low grade pass. It should also be extendable with more advanced targets so that a strong student can exceed expectations and so be awarded a high grade.  

Projects definitely should not
- Projects should not be very routine tasks which simply cannot be turned into a project report.   

Guidance on setting a high risk or low risk project
- The most interesting projects tend to be "high risk" projects, where there's really good scope for taking them forward and demonstrating exceptional ability and getting a very high grade, but also some big central challenge that needs to be mastered to get anywhere with it (e.g. research in novel programming languages) and the risk that if it isn't, the project fails. These are balanced by "low risk" projects, which are the more routine ones, easier at least to get something which gets a reasonable grade from them, but hard to find a way to take them forward in a way that would justify a really high mark.  


Kind regards,
Barry




On 7 Aug 2013, at 19:07, Lisa wrote:

I agree with Dinuk that if the idea is to build something that would be useful to the industry partner, some careful thought needs to go into IP and ownership of the final product, rights to extend etc 

I would also suggest that the student should retain control of the project, and treat it as a consulting gig where they make proposals as opposed to "simply" following instructions.  When it comes to interviews, they can expect to be asked about their project as it is often the closest thing to real life IT/development work that they have done, and if they end up having to answer every question with "that's what the company wanted" or "I was told to ..." they are putting themselves at a significant disadvantage. They still need to be able to justify and discuss aspects like choice of technology or basic architecture etc.

Lisa


On 7 Aug 2013, at 15:11, Gemma Silvers <[address removed]> wrote:

Hey Barry

I completed my final year project for Sun (way back in the dark ages).  It worked because I'd been an intern at Sun the year before, they knew me and were confident in the quality of my work, and I knew enough about the environment to know what requirements weren't being fulfilled and what projects could be a good fit, for both myself and the company.

As an employer I would struggle to want to get involved with a student whose track record I didn't know, particularly if I genuinely wanted to get a useful product at the end of the project, rather than treating any engagement as a vanity project.  So I think final year projects that are a natural extension of an internship are the lowest friction way to get going, and have the greatest chance of being fruitful for both student and company.

Gemma


On Wed, Aug 7, 2013 at 11:16 AM, Barry Cranford <[address removed]> wrote:
Hey guys, 

Just wanted to come back to you on this to appeal for more information. I received a few personal responses from ex-students that had taken on industrial projects but I also have now had a few responses from companies that are potentially interested, but not sure where to start.

I could really do with getting feedback or details of your experience. If there is anyone out there that has been involved in an industry project:

- either a student that did it as part of their degree
- or a company that had a student complete a project for them

...or just anyone that has an opinion in this space, please do let me know - I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks,
Barry



On 5 Aug 2013, at 10:06, Barry Cranford wrote:

TL;DR

- At least one university I know are keen to help foster more links between students and companies, as part of their final year projects
- At RecWorks we believe in talent development and see this as a way for students to be more prepared for what to expect when they graduate
- I'm keen to hear advice from anyone that has experience in this space 


Good morning LJC,

Some of you may remember that last week I sent an email out to try and find some people that would be interested in helping a University Professor with his research study. We have made quite a few intros which was great, it made my mind wander about if there was not more interaction that we could foster between academia and companies in the software industry. 

I wrote to another university with which we have a very good bond to see if we could help connect Professors OR Students with companies. Their response was that they were very keen to increase the amount of projects that are industry based. They were referring more to students than professors though, which is great. At RecWorks we're firm believers in helping assist with talent development - the way I see it, this as a potential way of helping students get more mentoring and become more prepared for what to expect when they graduate.

I'm now looking into that further to see what kind of collaboration this university would need, but I thought I would write to you, the LJC members, to find out if there is anyone with experience in this space. Just to be clear, I'm NOT referring to internships here, but students that have a final year project to complete.

- Are you a student that has done a project tied to industry?
- How did you connect with the company?
- What did you get out of it?
- Did you meet with the company often?
- Would you recommend others follow suit?
- Were there any things you would have changed?

- Are you a company that has worked with students on projects, as part of their courses in the past? (NOT INTERNSHIPS)
- What sort of project was it?
- How did you interview/select the student?
- Was it valuable to you?
- Was there anything you would change about it?
- Would you recommend other companies to do it?
- What kind of projects would you recommend offering?

- Are you a startup or established company that would be interested in connecting with students as part of their industrial experience?
- Have you done this before?
- What sort of project would you like to have completed?
- What are you expecting to get out of it?

I am quite happy to receive emails either back to this list or to me personally at [address removed] if you'd rather not share your experiences with everyone. 

Thanks in advance.

Kind regards,
Barry
 







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