SLU logo

CSCI 4961/4962/5960/5961 Capstone Project - Class Page

Spring 2021

Instructor David Ferry, Homepage
Course Web Site
Course meeting times Monday from 4:10 - 6:00, ONLINE
Zoom meeting link: Click here to join
Zoom meeting ID: 913 4784 2808
Zoom passcode: 157858
Office hours See my schedule

Table of Contents

Undergraduate Overview

The Capstone Project serves as a concluding achievement for graduating students, allowing them to apply knowledge that they have gained from the Computer Science curriculum toward a year-long project. Formally, the project is completed as part of a two-semester sequence of 2-credit courses: CSCI 4961 (Capstone Project I) and CSCI 4962 (Capstone Project II).

Graduate Overview

The Capstone Project serves as a concluding achievement for graduating students, allowing them to apply knowledge that they have gained from the Computer Science curriculum toward a semester-long project. Formally, the project is completed in one semester as a 3-credit course: CSCI 5960 (Capstone Project).

Student Learning Outcomes

After successfully completing this course sequence, students will be able to:

  1. Communicate with a client regarding project requirements and formally document the requirement specifications.
  2. Develop a project design and plan, including reasonable timeline and effort estimates.
  3. Design, implement and test a medium- to large-scale software product which meets given requirements specifications.
  4. Use a range of tools in support of the development of a team-based software product.
  5. Effectively communicate with peers and supervisors in a technical setting.


Key roles in the capstone course are as follows:

The Supervisor and the Instructor will work together in grading the performance of the teams. A non-CS Client may be consulted, but has no formal responsibilities in regard to evaluation.

Project Selection

At the onset of CSCI 4961 and CSCI 5960, the instructor will circulate a list of potential projects to consider. These projects are often suggested by CS faculty members based on research endeavors or educational tools, are based on requests coming from members of the broader SLU community, or in some cases from external community groups. Students will also be afforded an opportunity to suggest project ideas for consideration. Projects should have an appropriate scope for a culminating experience, having a richness in both aspects of design and use of technology. Past examples of project descriptions will be provided.

At the beginning of the second week, individual students will be asked to submit a ranked list of preferences for projects of interest, and preferences regarding the composition of student teams. The supervisors will make final determination of the teams and their assignments to projects, while taking into consideration the preferences submitted by students. Those assignments will be announced by the end of the second week.

After project assignment, each student team must develop a formal Project Plan that outlines the scope of the project, and the timeline for major deliverables for both Capstone I and Capstone II (for undergraduates) or Capstone 5960 (for graduate students). This plan must be approved and signed by both the Supervisor and Instructor no later than the end of the third week of class to be considered prompt.

Project Timeline, Deliverables, Presentations

Each project is unique, and teams may adopt one of a variety of project management styles. However, all teams must adhere to the following checkpoints and timeline (details of which follow).

Required Work Deadline
Individual preferences (Capstone 1, SE, and AI) 5:00pm Thursday, February 4, 2021
Draft Project Plan (Capstone 1, SE, and AI) Friday, February 19, 2021
Signed Project Plan (Capstone 1, SE, and AI) Friday, February 26, 2021
Weekly reports each Monday via Git after Git repositories are created
CSCI 4961: Deliverable #1
CSCI 4962: Deliverable #3
CSCI 5960: Deliverable #1
CSCI 5961: Deliverable #1
Friday, March 12, 2021
Midterm presentations TBD, week of March 15-19
CSCI 4961: Deliverable #2
CSCI 4962: Deliverable #4
CSCI 5960: Deliverable #2
CSCI 5961: Deliverable #2
Friday, May 7, 2021
Final presentation Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Team self-assessment Friday, May 14, 2021

Weekly Schedule

Week Date Topic Notes
Week 1 February 1st Class Introduction Capstone 1, SE, AI project preferences due Thursday
Capstone 2 should reconnect with group and supervisor
Week 2 February 8th User Stories
Capstone 1, SE, and AI Readings:
Agile User Stories
User Story Template
User Stories Defined

Capstone 2 will break out and do Deliverable 3 Planning
Groups formed (Capstone 1, SE, AI)
Week 3 February 15th Capstone 1, SE, AI Project Start Capstone 1, SE, AI draft project plan due Friday
Week 4 February 22nd Capstone 1, SE, AI final draft project plan due Friday
Week 5 March 1st
Week 6 March 8th Presentation Rough Draft Due In Class
Presentation Gallery
Deliverable 1/3 due Friday
Week 7 March 15th No Class Deliverable 1/3 Presentations This Week
Week 8 March 22nd Deliverable 2/4 Planning
Week 9 March 29th Migration Planning
Week 10 April 5th
Week 11 April 12th Velocity Estimation
Week 12 April 19th
Week 13 April 26th
Week 14 May 3rd Deliverable 2/4 due Friday
Week 15 May 10th No Class Deliverable 2/4 Presentations Tuesday

Repository for Project Artifacts

All teams will be required to use the department Git repositories for all project artifacts (e.g., all deliverables, source codes, presentation materials). Both the instructor and supervisor will be granted access to the repository from the beginning of the project. An analysis of contributions to the repository may be used as additional evidence of individuals' participation.

Considerations for graduate students enrolled in CSCI 5960

CSCI 5960 is considered a graduate level course, and is three credit hours where both 4961 and 4962 are two credit hours. As such, the expecations for your effort in this course are commensurately higher. Partly this is accounted for in that you have one semester to go from project inception to completion while undergraduate students have two. However, it is also reasonable to expect graduate students to participate at a higher level and in different ways than undergraduate students, such as serving as a project leader to a group of undergraduate students, or tackling more difficult and complex aspects of projects than your undergraduate peers.

The exact nature of your graduate experience in this course will vary from project to project and even person to person. The CS department faculty have final oversight over what constitutes an acceptable experience to count for graduate credit.


Each semester of the capstone project is graded based upon the performance during that semester. The evaluation of students' artifacts and presentations will be made by a combination of the Instructor and project Supervisor. The overall grade will be weighted as follows:

Letter grades will then be assigned based on the following formula.

Student percentage above 93% will result in a grade of A.
Student percentage above 90% will result in a grade of A- or better.
Student percentage above 87% will result in a grade of B+ or better.
Student percentage above 83% will result in a grade of B or better.
Student percentage above 80% will result in a grade of B- or better.
Student percentage above 77% will result in a grade of C+ or better.
Student percentage above 73% will result in a grade of C or better.
Student percentage above 70% will result in a grade of C- or better.
Student percentage above 60% will result in a grade of D or better.
Student percentage below 60% will result in a grade of F.
Although team members will typically receive similar grades, in some cases the Instructor and Supervisor may consider the relative contribution of individual team members in assigning individual grades.


Successful students attend all or mostly all class sessions. This is true in my experience and has been demonstrated in large scale studies as well. In that study, even students who attended nine out of ten class periods had measurably lower class performance than those who attended all classes. As stated above, having more than two unexcused absences will result in a penalty to your class participation grade. You do not need to get permission when you do miss class and you are free to use your two automatically excused absences however you wish: you are an adult and have the freedom to manage your time in whatever way you feel is most useful. Job interviews, conferences, tests in other courses, etc. are all reasonable cases for being absent.

Note that in-class assignments such as tests or quizes cannot be made up outside of class without prior approval from the instructor. All such activities will be listed course schedule with ample time to prepare (i.e. there are no "pop quizes").

If you do miss class you should refer to the course schedule to see what was missed and arrange to get course notes from another student. I am always happy to answer questions but I do not repeat full class periods in office hours.

Required University Attendance Statement for Spring 2021

The health and well-being of SLU’s students, staff, and faculty are critical concerns. Accordingly, the following University policy statements on in-person class attendance are designed to preserve and advance the collective health and well-being of our institutional constituencies.
  1. Students who exhibit any potential COVID symptoms (those that cannot be attributed to some other medical condition the students are known to have, such as allergies, asthma, etc.) shall absent themselves from any in-person class attendance or in-person participation in any class-related activity until they have been evaluated by a qualified medical official. Students should contact the University Student Health Center for immediate assistance.
  2. Students who exhibit potential COVID symptoms (those that cannot be attributed to some other medical condition the students are known to have, such as allergies, asthma, etc.) but who feel well enough to a) attend the course synchronously in an online class session or b) participate in asynchronous online class activities, are expected to do so. Those who do not feel well enough to do so should absent themselves accordingly.
  3. Students (whether exhibiting any of potential COVID symptoms or not, and regardless of how they feel) who are under either an isolation or quarantine directive issued by a qualified health official must absent themselves from all in-person course activity per the stipulations of the isolation or quarantine directive. They are expected to participate in synchronous or asynchronous online class activities as they feel able to do so, or absent themselves accordingly.
  4. Students are responsible for notifying each instructor of an absence as far in advance as possible; when advance notification is not possible, students are responsible for notifying each instructor as soon after the absence as possible.
  5. As a temporary amendment to the current University Attendance Policy, all absences due to illness or an isolation/quarantine directive issued by a qualified health official shall be considered “Authorized” absences (effective August 2020 through May 2021).

COVID-19 Considerations for Spring 2021

Notification of absences: You do not need to notify the instructor that you are missing a regular synchronous class meeting. Notify the instructor as early as possible if you have a conflict with presentation times.

Student Absences: It is the responsibility of the student to accommodate their absence. Make arrangements in advance with another student to get a report of synchronous class activities and their notes for the day. Our synchronous meetings will be recorded via Zoom, but do not rely on such recordings: they do not record group breakout sessions, the recording may fail, etc.

Lecture content for this course is recorded and may be viewed at a later time.

What happens if a student becomes ill: As this is an online course, students who are mildly ill should continue to attend class and work on your project when you are able. Students with serious illnesses are excused from attending class and from working on your project. Please email the professor if you are unable to work on your project due to illness, and note this in your weekly update.

As capstone is a group project with immediate and long-term deadlines, due dates will generally not be moved due to the illness of a student. Instead, faculty will take such circumstances into account when evaluating the volume and quality of work submitted at each deliverable. However, the default assumption will be that a two-week illness of a single group member should not majorly impact the group's overall progress.

For example, there are fourteen full weeks in a regular semester. A three person group thus has 42 person-weeks of effort available to them. If all three students in the group become severely ill to the point where they individually cannot work for two weeks each, this represents a loss of six person-weeks out of 42, or only one-seventh (14%) of the total effort available to the group. It would be reasonable for a group that becomes severely ill to only implement six features instead of seven for the semester. It would not be reasonable to significantly reduce the entire group's output, such as making no effort on a deliverable entirely.

What happens if the course instructor becomes ill: As this is an entirely online course the class will proceed as normal if the instructor is well enough to meet. Otherwise a replacement faculty from the computer science department will take over synchronous meeting times.

Depending on the timing of the illness some modification to the course schedule and assignment deadlines may be required. If any modification takes place it will always be announced and made in favor of the student- e.g. deadlines may be extended, but never shortened. However, the capstone course is essentially a group endeavor by all the faculty in the department- it is unlikely (under the current circumstances) that enough faculty would be sick to warrant moving our deliverable and presentation deadlines.

Mandatory Statement of Face Masks (Spring 2021)

The University’s Interim Policy on Face Masks governs all students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors in all University-owned, leased, or operated facilities. All persons physically present in any such University facility associated with this course shall comply fully with this policy at all times. Masks must be worn before entry to all such University facilities (as well as outdoors on all University property when six feet of distance is unpredictable or cannot be maintained).

Saint Louis University is committed to maintaining an inclusive and accessible environment. Individuals who are unable to wear a face mask due to medical reasons should contact the Office of Disability Services or Human Resources to initiate the accommodation process identified in the University’s ADA Policy. Inquires or concerns may also be directed to the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity. Notification to instructors of SLU-approved ADA accommodations should be made in writing prior to the first class session in any term (or as soon thereafter as possible).

As the instructor of this course, I shall comply fully with SLU’s policy and all related ADA regulations.

Students who attempt to enter a classroom without wearing masks will be asked by the instructor to wear masks prior to entry. Students who remove their masks at any time during a class session will be asked by the instructor to resume wearing their masks.

Note: Accordingly, no consumption of any food will be allowed in class.

Students who do not comply with a request by a SLU instructor to wear a mask in accordance with the University’s Interim Policy on Face Masks may be subject to disciplinary actions per the rules, regulations, and policies of Saint Louis University, including but not limited to the Student Handbook. Non-compliance with this policy may result in disciplinary action, up to and including any of the following:

To immediately protect the health and well-being of all students, instructors, and staff, instructors reserve the right to cancel or terminate any class session at which any student fails to comply with faculty or staff request to wear a mask in accordance with University policy.

Students are strongly encouraged to identify to their instructor any student or instructor not in compliance. Non-compliance may be anonymously reported via the SLU Integrity Hotline at 1-877-525-5669 (or confidentially via the Integrity Hotline's website at

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is honest, truthful and responsible conduct in all academic endeavors. The mission of Saint Louis University is "the pursuit of truth for the greater glory of God and for the service of humanity." Accordingly, all acts of falsehood demean and compromise the corporate endeavors of teaching, research, health care, and community service via which SLU embodies its mission. The University strives to prepare students for lives of personal and professional integrity, and therefore regards all breaches of academic integrity as matters of serious concern.

The governing University-level Academic Integrity Policy was adopted in Spring 2015, and can be accessed on the Provost's Office website at:

Additionally, each SLU College, School, and Center has adopted its own academic integrity policies, available on their respective websites. All SLU students are expected to know and abide by these policies, which detail definitions of violations, processes for reporting violations, sanctions, and appeals. Please direct questions about any facet of academic integrity to your faculty, the chair of the department of your academic program, or the Dean/Director of the College, School or Center in which your program is housed. Specific College of Arts and Sciences Academic Honesty Policies and Procedures may be found here.

Title IX Statement

Saint Louis University and its faculty are committed to supporting our students and seeking an environment that is free of bias, discrimination, and harassment. If you have encountered any form of sexual harassment, including sexual assault, stalking, domestic or dating violence, we encourage you to report this to the University. If you speak with a faculty member about an incident that involves a Title IX matter, that faculty member must notify SLU’s Title IX Coordinator and share the basic facts of your experience. This is true even if you ask the faculty member not to disclose the incident. The Title IX Coordinator will then be available to assist you in understanding all of your options and in connecting you with all possible resources on and off campus.

Anna Kratky is the Title IX Coordinator at Saint Louis University (DuBourg Hall, room 36;; 314-977-3886). If you wish to speak with a confidential source, you may contact the counselors at the University Counseling Center at 314-977-TALK or make an anonymous report through SLU’s Integrity Hotline by calling 1-877-525-5669 or online at To view SLU’s policies, and for resources, please visit the following web addresses: and

IMPORTANT UPDATE: SLU’s Title IX Policy (formerly called the Sexual Misconduct Policy) has been significantly revised to adhere to a new federal law governing Title IX that was released on May 6, 2020. Please take a moment to review the new policy and information on the following web address: Please contact the Anna Kratky, the Title IX Coordinator, with any questions or concerns.

Supporting Student Success

In recognition that people learn in a variety of ways and that learning is influenced by multiple factors (e.g., prior experience, study skills, learning disability), resources to support student success are available on campus. The Student Success Center, a one-stop shop, which assists students with academic and career related services, is located in the Busch Student Center (Suite 331). Students can visit to learn more about tutoring services, university writing services, disability services, and academic coaching.

Disability Services

Students with a documented disability who wish to request academic accommodations must contact Disability Services to discuss accommodation requests and eligibility requirements. Once successfully registered, the student also must notify the course instructor that they wish to access accommodations in the course.

Please contact Disability Services, located within the Student Success Center, at or 314-977-3484 to schedule an appointment. Confidentiality will be observed in all inquiries. Once approved, information about academic accommodations will be shared with course instructors via email from Disability Services and viewed within Banner via the instructor’s course roster.

Note: Students who do not have a documented disability but who think they may have one are encouraged to contact Disability Services.

University Writing Services

Students are encouraged to take advantage of University Writing Services in the Student Success Center; getting feedback benefits writers at all skill levels. Trained writing consultants can help with writing projects, multimedia projects, and oral presentations. University Writing Services offers one-on-one consultations that address everything from brainstorming and developing ideas to crafting strong sentences and documenting sources. For more information, visit or call the Student Success Center at 314-977-3484.

Basic Needs Security

Students in personal or academic distress and/or who may be specifically experiencing challenges such as securing food or difficulty navigating campus resources, and who believe this may affect their performance in the course, are encouraged to contact the Dean of Students Office ( or 314-977-9378) for support. Furthermore, please notify the instructor if you are comfortable in doing so, as this will enable them to assist you with finding the resources you may need.