EECS 497: Major Design Projects

Professor Mary Lou Dorf
Professor Elliot Soloway

There are two types of activities in 497. First, students, working in 3-4 person teams, design, code, and test software projects of their own invention. Work on the project goes on over the entire semester, with demonstrations along the way and a final presentation – all done in front of the entire class. Second, students are asked to engage with both classical, core content from software engineering (interface design, automated unit testing, code repositories, etc.) and software marketing (company management strategies, product design techniques, etc.). As well, students discuss current events and trends in the computing industry, and, most importantly, relate those contemporary and perhaps trendy issues back to the classical, core content.

The class period is broken up into various activities:

  • Discussion of Current Events
  • Discussion of assigned reading materials
  • Company Presentations

This is not a lecture course per se; students are expected to read the posted articles/books and come into class prepared to discuss the reading(s). Guest speakers from local and national software companies visit with the class to discuss real-world issues in software development. Students must be seniors to take 497.

Additional Information

Class Assignments (sample):

  • Team Project – design, code, and test software system
  • Company Report – each student presents a 10 minute analysis and critique of a technology company of their own selection
  • Software Project Presentation – each student has 60 seconds to stand up and present a problem and a proposed solution; this presentation provides the basis for the semester-long team projects
  • Demos – each team makes 2 interim and 1 final presentation during the semester using PowerPoint to the entire class


Textbooks (must be purchased):

  • Moore, Geoffrey A. Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers. New York: CollinsBusiness Essentials, 2006.
  • Brooks, Frederick P. The Mythical Man Month Essays on Software Engineering. Reading, Mass. Addison-Wesley, 1996.

Readings (sample; available on Internet):

  • The Innovators Dilemma, Clayton Christensen
  • The Cathedral and The Bazaar, Eric Raymond
  • The Earth is Flat, Thomas Friedman
  • The Web is DEAD, Chris Anderson
  • Various articles from NY Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.