CSC 599: Senior Capstone
Fall 2019

4:00-6:30 Wed
205 Hitchcock
Dr. David Reed
203D Hitchcock      x2583

Texts:    Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion.
           Hal Abelson, Ken Ledeen, and Hary Lewis, Addison-Wesley, 2008.
The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood.
           James Gleick, Vintage, 2012.

Prerequisite: Computer Science & Informatics major, Senior standing

Course Description

This project-based capstone is intended for computer science seniors. Students will meet weekly to discuss seminal papers and issues in computer science, many of which will focus on the ethical and professional responsibilities of computer scientists. In addition, each student will design, implement, and present a project that integrates computer science content from his or her major courses. It is expected that the project will involve building a software and/or Web-based product, such as database of resources for a non-profit organization, a mobile app for locating classrooms on campus, or an interactive, multimedia Web site for a student group.

Specific objectives:

This course meets the Magis Core requirements for Designated Ethics and Designated Oral Communication. As such, it has the following additional goals:

Course Organization

The class will meet weekly to discuss current and historical papers in computer science. Each student will lead one or more of the discussion sessions and present summaries of the paper to the class. Many of these papers will focus on ethical issues in computer science, and the responsibilities of computing professionals.

Each student will complete a 5-10 page midterm paper on the ethical issues related to a real-world situation. This will involve researching different viewpoints, taking a position, and justifying that position using data and supporting arguments. An example topic might be the case of Edward Snowden, exploring whether his actions were ethical and justified.

In addition, students will work in teams of two or three to design, develop, and present a software project. The project must integrate content from the computer science curriculum. For example, developing a mobile application that connects to a customer database would integrate concepts from Data Structures, Web Programming, and Databases.

The final grade for the course will be based on the following weightings:

Seminar-style discussions
    attendance/participation (20%)
    preparation/leading (10%)
Midterm paper 25%
Capstone Project
    project proposal (5%)
    midway checkpoint (5%)
    deliverables (20%)
    practice presentation (5%)
    presentation (10%)

At the minimum, departmental grading cutoffs for the final average will apply. That is, 93-100% guarantees an A, 90-92 an A-, 87-89% a B+, 83-86% a B, 80-82 a B-, 77-79% a C+, 73-76% a C, 70-72 a C-, and 60-70% a D. Depending on class performance, some shifting of grades (in an upward direction only) may occur as final letter grades are assigned.

Attendance Policy

Students are expected to attend each class meeting and contribute to discussions. Absences will adversely affect the student's discussion grade.

It is expected that all students check their Creighton email accounts regularly. Official announcements, such as assignment revisions or class cancellations, will be distributed through Creighton email.

Policy on Collaboration

Creighton's policy on cheating and plagiarism is spelled out in the Student Handbook, with college procedures available online. In addition, the Capstone project must be an original work of the student or team of students for this course. When the project builds upon existing ideas or code, the sources must be appropriately referenced.

Weekly Schedule (check regularly for updates)

Date Discussion Project
Aug 21 Organizational meeting  
28 Blown to Bits, Ch. 2
Ethical Concepts and Information Technology
Programmers need ethics when designing the technologies that influence people's lives
Sep 4 Blown to Bits, Ch. 3 (Hughes)
Blown to Bits, Ch. 4 (Gard)
Project team roster due
11 Blown to Bits, Ch. 5 (Kearney)
Blown to Bits, Ch. 6 (Williams)
Project proposal due
18 Computing Machinery and Intelligence
Movie Night
25 Professionalism & career planning
Resume & Interview Tips from the Career Center
Paper & project consultations
Oct 2 The Information: Ch 1 (Palmer)
As We May Think
Project consultations
9 The Information: Ch 2 (Koenen)
Automatic Programming for Digital Computers
Project consultations
Midterm paper due
23 Project consultations
(see email for your scheduled block)
30 The Information: Ch 3 (Nielsen)
The Mythical Man-Month
Nov 6 Project progress critiques Project checkpoint
13 guest speaker
The Information: Ch 4 (Bonala & Budzik)
20 The Information: Ch 5 (Nakagawa & Thompson)
The Information: Ch 6 (Kim & Nguyen)
Dec 4 The Information: Ch 7 (Fillipi & Yang)
A Mathematical Theory of Communication
Project due
Practice presentations
11 Project presentations  

In the event of disruption of normal classroom activities due to a flu outbreak or other emergency, the format for this course may be modified to enable completion of the course. In that event, you will be provided an addendum to this syllabus that will supersede this version.