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What was Your Senior Project? 82

Caydel asks: "I am a third year CS major. This year I have a two-semester senior project course in which I can spend two semesters on a project of my choosing. I want to write something very cool, which at the same time provides quite a challenge to me, and serves a useful purpose; however, I am having trouble coming up with good ideas. For those of you out there who have done a similar course, what did you do? What would you have done differently? Which languages did you use? How many skills, that came from outside of your CS courses, did you use?"
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What was Your Senior Project?

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  • Oooh. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Seumas ( 6865 ) * on Saturday August 27, 2005 @06:34PM (#13417876)
    You should develop an application that will take into account numerous global and business factors to show CEOs - in real time - what their total cost savings is based on their outsourced and offshored efforts over what they would have spent if they had not done so. Then it should give projected savings for "what-if" conditions, such as laying off more employees, moving more work overseas, ignoring more labor laws. You get the picture. It could even be a sweet little Dashboard Widget to make that dashboard crap useful for once!

    You could even make a version for employees that shows them what the going rate of their work is elsewhere in the world so that they can begin to plan accordingly and start drinking that free(ish) water rather than that $4/gallon milk. Or start walking 50 miles to work instead of spending a week's salary on a day's worth of gas. Or start wearing yard trash bags instead of clothes. You know - to make the average American worker more competitive with the global labor force.

    Or even better, you could build on existing TTS (text to speech) libraries by creating a utility that will modify input so that it sounds more twangish or nasal or laid back. That way call centers overseas could connect these to their PBX systems so their engineers sound more "American" to american end-users looking for tech support.

    But perhaps you want to make something that will actually help *you* in the long run. In that case, perhaps you could develop some sort of program that will let you travel back in time to pick another major for a career that isn't so washed-out. I'm not sure what sort of schooling is available for janitorial work, but I'm sure there are vocational training centers you could look into!
  • Finally (Score:5, Funny)

    by daeley ( 126313 ) on Saturday August 27, 2005 @06:36PM (#13417885) Homepage
    Hey, everybody, please help this 'person' out. My senior project was to create a brain in a jar who would be unaware of its artificiality long enough for it to 'complete' a virtual senior CS project. If you help it out, we both win!
  • by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Saturday August 27, 2005 @06:38PM (#13417901) Homepage Journal
    Here's an idea... scour sourceforge for a project where the idea is great and the implementation is usable but the code and efficiency is really bad.. then rewrite it from the ground up with elegant code and at the end of it all... submit it for the rest of us to use.

    FYI it doesn't have to be a web app either... lots of standalone applications out there too but of course if it can publish reports, logs and status to a web monitor app even better.

    • Or better yet, assuming you keep all rights to the code, program something that takes another area of expertise and create a program to make someone elses life easier.

      For example, a financial calculator. It's not to hard to find the functions you'd need to use and you can meet (network) with some people in the Business School and have them assist you (generally professors are pretty nice). Tell them you are considering an MBA at your school, that might help too.

      Another example is economic models, or some bi
      • Or better yet, assuming you keep all rights to the code, program something that takes another area of expertise and create a program to make someone elses life easier.

        In other words, ask for ideas from people who work in less-technical fields. See where the power of computing can help people's task, people who aren't technical enough to write their own programs. Economics is always a rich source of ideas.

    • then rewrite it from the ground up with elegant code

      There isn't a senior CS major alive that can write elegant code. When I was a senior I thought my code was a thing of beauty. When I look at it now, years later, I shudder in disbelief that such crap ever eminated from my fingertips.

      Also, any /.er who claims to have written elegant code during college is either lying or delusional.

      • if I could use my mod points you'd get some funny....

        well, true as it is, I think setting the goal high could be a great learning experience for the lad if nothing else... and remember that there are a hell of a lot more resources for learning how to code well these days. Look at the O'Reilly series for instance, did they exist back when you were in school? Not that they are the end all of coding but better than standard issue textbooks I think.

        The focus of the suggestion however was implied not explicit...
  • Just Ask (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lexarius ( 560925 ) on Saturday August 27, 2005 @06:40PM (#13417915)
    Often the department will maintain a list of available projects. This can be a good place to look for ideas, if not actually pick one. Another thing you might do is pick a professor you like and ask them if they have any projects they would like you to work on. This is how I got the Senior Project that I just started working on. It also has the advantage of letting you get acquainted with someone important and showing them the quality of your work. This can get you a valuable reference, letter of recommendation, or an ally if you continue into grad school.
    • Not just an ally, but a potential source of financial support during grad school, especially if the same grant funding the research that your senior project is a part of continues past your graduation date.

    • Or even ask a prof in another department. When I did my final project we worked with a prof in the human kinetics department. Grabbed a bio engineering student and did a project designing a vision system for a robot that was being used on a study of human knee joints. They had funding for the project, and they let us use their amazing robot. The drawback was that there were so many people in the lab that we could only really work at night, which became a little bit of a problem at the end of the semeste
  • by Zecritic ( 858738 ) on Saturday August 27, 2005 @06:45PM (#13417941)
    You could try one of the ideas from Summer of Code that didn't make the cut. The summer-discuss group was full of ideas. http://groups.google.com/group/summer-discuss?hl=e n [google.com]
  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) * on Saturday August 27, 2005 @06:57PM (#13418015)
    'Cool' and 'Open Source' are nice, but don't make them requirements. The ideal senior project is something you can both get an 'A' on and looks good on your resume. Make you senior project something that you would potentially do at a job you hope to have in the future. If possible, get corporate sponsorship for your project. This is easier than it sounds. Some professor in your school's CS department is probably already in good with some local tech company and has a project waiting to be done right now.

    If you project can end up being open source, that's a nice bonus, but it can be a mixed blessing. Believe me, 5 years from now when you've learned how little you knew when you graduated it will be awfully uncomfortable to explain during a job interview why you implemented that code the way you did.

    Above all though, don't work on something with no obvious practical applications unless your goal is to get into grad school. A practical project will make you desireable to hiring companies in the same way past job experience would.
    • I just realized I didn't answer the question in your subject. I probably should, since it helps make my point:

      For my senior project I wrote a Linux device driver for the Emulex LP7000 based Fiber Channel HBAs. The project was paid for by Clariion (EMC for the last 3 months). The development we did was open source, but it became the basis for the closed emulex driver.

      With that on my resume, I got a job writing linux device drivers a month before graduation, and have been hacking linux for cash ever since.
    • > Believe me, 5 years from now when you've learned how little you knew
      > when you graduated it will be awfully uncomfortable to explain during
      > a job interview why you implemented that code the way you did.


      Most interviewers would be interested in hearing what you'd do differently. Expecting brilliance from someone's senior project is lame.

      • Most interviewers would be interested in hearing what you'd do differently. Expecting brilliance from someone's senior project is lame.

        My experience has been that most interviewers are terrible. You have to sit through quite a few before you find a good place to work though. Some questions, the worst kind, reflect the interviewer's predetermined conclusions. Even if the rest of the interview hasn't sold you on the position, there's something uncomfortable about sitting across from a guy who's made up his mi
    • My alma matter's capstone projects were supposed to have an external client, so what most of the groups did was find a client and then ask what they want. The lucky ones got to write a Postgresql frontend in PHP, the unlucky ones got to write an Access frontend in VB. I'm sure they all have wonderful jobs right now writing SQL Server frontends in C#.

      I had plenty of stuff on my resume by fourth year and aspirations of grad school, so I figured I could afford to do a project that wouldn't include soul-sucking
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 27, 2005 @07:15PM (#13418094)
    I mean a real one, not the SQL crap we have today. One that implements Codd's original ideas as well as recent updates (e.g. The Third Manifesto). Updateable views, user-defined types, arbitrary constraints, type inheritance, declarative syntax, the works.

    Please. Somebody do this. Anybody. I have searched high and low and have found exactly 3 products. Two half-finished open source implementations, and Dataphor which is commercial and thus not worth using.

    I'm seriously thinking of going back to school just so I can study databases and learn how to write one. I have written a couple attempts in Lisp and Ruby and I just don't have the brains to finish them.
  • Compiler and Network (Score:4, Interesting)

    by renehollan ( 138013 ) <rhollan@NoSPaM.clearwire.net> on Saturday August 27, 2005 @07:16PM (#13418106) Homepage Journal
    My senior undergrad project (c. 1982) was the writing of a compiler.

    My graduate project (c. 1984) was the development of a very low cost CSMA/CD system and network drivers for TSC/Flex. Hardware costs of $50/node were achieved when ethernet interfaces ran around $1000. Of course 125 Kb/s wasn't much, but in those days, it was impressive. Processing was purely interrupt-driven (no DMA), and the novelty was being able to mask the network controller interrupts for the right length of time once it was determined the packet was destined for someone else (or not grin).

    The development system for the latter sported a 10 MB hard disk, as opposed to the usual 8" floppy-based systems -- I had written the hard disk drivers for that system in my final undergrad year: having a working HD-based TSC/Flex system was essential to the last course I needed to graduate and it was in danger of not being available, the course cancelled, and me having to wait a semester, so I did what was necessary to make the systems that were required for the course I had to take to teach me how to make such systems so that I might graduate when I expected.

    I guess times have changed.

  • Good advice (Score:5, Informative)

    by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Saturday August 27, 2005 @07:48PM (#13418283) Journal
    Seriously, forget all this "I want to do something really cool and useful!" stuff. That's a good way to wind up with an overly complex that takes too much time and risks not getting done.

    For my senior project as an electrical engineer, I built what was just about an Apple IIe from the ground up. I designed the entire MC6502 microprocessor in VHDL, broke it up into component pieces and programmed them into different CPLDs, wired it all together with a RAM, a ROM, and a few serial controllers to take inputs from a keyboard and send outputs to a monitor, and wrote some simple demonstration software for it. I got an A

    Another kid in my class hooked up an infraed sensor to a relay, and configured it so when you stand under a ceiling fan, it turns on, and when you walk away it turns off. He got an A, too.

    The other kid was smart. I was dumb.

    Remember, after you get your first job, no boss will ever care again, ever, what you did in college.
    • Re:Good advice (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Andrew Sterian ( 182 )
      When your boss asks about the relative merits of switching from a microcontroller-based product to one that uses CPLD's, you'll be able to speak intelligently about the tradeoffs.

      The other kid's job will be offshored.

      I think you were smart.
      • Re:Good advice (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pla ( 258480 ) on Sunday August 28, 2005 @10:23AM (#13420727) Journal
        When your boss asks about the relative merits of switching from a microcontroller-based product to one that uses CPLD's

        ...You'll wake up horribly dissapointed that such conversations don't happen in the real world.

        Even if your immediate boss understands the question (mine at the moment would, and you cannot imagine how happy that makes me), he in turn has any important decisions handed down based on buzzword-worthiness.

        My favorite, ever (fortunately a friend, not myself, had this disaster as a task) - The customer wanted something vaguely like a POS terminal. They specified the hardware platform, and that we needed to code everything in C++. I don't know if the customer actually had a clue what "C++" meant beyond a buzzword at the time, but suffice it to say, no C++ compiler existed for the specified target platform.

        Kids - Your senior project doesn't matter. Your school's reputation (assuming something better than "Bill's house of Diplomas") doesn't matter. The opinions of your professors don't matter. No one cares how much "community service"/"volunteer work"/ "social BS" you performed. Do the least work possible to pass - I wouldn't even say worry about getting an "A" unless you already have highest-honors status and a B would lower that. And as the GP pointed out, once you get your first job, no one will ever care about your college work as more than idle conversation over beers while commiserating about the Dilbertian nature of "real" work... And even your first job doesn't care what you did in college - If you worked at a decent intership, your experience there for a total of 12 months out of the previous four years, will count for FAR more than the 36 months of academic work you did in the same time.

        You want to know what does matter? Get the framed piece of paper to wave (doesn't matter what it actually says), and don't let yourself get into too much debt - Many employers now run credit checks on job applicants, meaning the schmuck who went $100k+ into debt at a private school and "wasted" his summers sucking up to professors will get turned down in favor of the guy who went to a state university and managed to pay tuition with the wages from a summer internship.

        And I say this as someone who did keep a high GPA, in two different degrees, worked with professors on their pet research, and ended up with glowing, obviously-personal (rather than cookie-cutter) recommendations from two separate department chairs. Fortunately I also went to a state university and kept out of debt. And what mattered, for my first post-college job? The summer internship. No one, in any of the interviews I've endured (and yes, "endured" makes the right word to describe the process of inverviewing), cared in the least about the (IMO) very cool research I did in college. They cared that I knew X, Y, and Z (where X, Y, and Z frequently had no actual relation to the job description), that I could solve riddles quickly, that I passed a background check, and how I dealt with my worst failure at work (a tough question, considering that I never really failed by my own faults, and saying "management made the project physically impossible" sounds like a cop-out).

        As one last point, to give all you poor bastards about to graduate a small sliver of hope that you haven't just wasted four years of your life - My current job violates most of the above complaints, but I consider it pretty much a one-in-a-million position. I interviewed directly with a real, live, competent engineer, who cared more about my skills than about mind games and buzzwords. Management has a decent knowledge of technology, but also the wisdom not to pretend they know enough to micromanage the IT department. I can speak with the head honcho casually, on a first-name basis, and don't find my desk contents waiting at security in a cardboard box for me when I come in the next morning. So such jobs exist, but good luck finding them.
        • My current job violates most of the above complaints, but I consider it pretty much a one-in-a-million position.

          Yet you haven't held one million positions yet, so you don't really know. Maybe it's more line one-in-twenty, or one-in-a-hundred. I work for a sucky dilbertian employer, but your description of the industry almost my job sound like paradise.
        • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Monday August 29, 2005 @02:36AM (#13425167)
          I concluded very early on the effort required to get an A was not worth it (to me) in engineering; I had no ambition to go into academia, and that's the only place it mattered. Getting a BSc. EE degree was a high enough bar to set. (does anyone really even care about the BSc. vs. BEng? does anyone even know the difference here? case in point)

          The effort required for a 'B' was much, much less - often just going to class and doing assignments on time - this let me take all the effort I would have wasted getting an A, and pour it into working at internships, my own learning, and contracts - gaining real world, resume-stuffing experience.

          That said, I busted my ass on my senior project and learned a LOT about wireless and packet-level IP communications - that and all the C++ experience I learned got me a very nice job when I graduated. Later, all the experience with embedded systems (learned from hacking on my car, NOT my degree), C++ and graphics paid off in spades and let me start my own company.

          The degree was very valuable though - I learned enough about fourier transforms and calculus to study and read papers that helped me a lot when setting up my company. Did it matter that I got 10/10 of the complex integrals right in that fourier transforms class? Nope. All that mattered was I knew what they were, how they could be used, and what their limitations were.

          I'm sure there's lots of counter examples, but almost all of it goes to: If you're motivated, you'll (probably) succeed.

          Do something that interests you on your senior project, and make sure it works at the end. Regardless of grade, you'll have made out better than most of your classmates.
    • what you say is absolutely true. When I've interviewed grads, I'm barely interested in your degree (other than that you have one and you didn't fail too many subjects).

      I'm interested in your final project, merely as a conversation starter and as chance to get you talking so I can see what your communication skills are like. I'm much more interested in your attitude, communication skills, willingness and enthusiasm to learn, and extra-curicular activities. This is what distinguishes people from the masses, n
  • I did simulations on the underdevelopment on Fiji, but hey, BS in Economics ;-).
  • Music (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jerph ( 550853 ) on Saturday August 27, 2005 @07:52PM (#13418308) Homepage Journal

    My senior project way back in '03 was to use genetic algorithms to figure out what musical scale/mode sounded the best to people. Two scales were chosen from the pool. A Java applet generated notes in the scale based on the likelihood that a given interval would happen in popular music. Then the scales were given names like Ludwig Van Nirvana and their generated songs were pitted against each other. The listener voted on the best one, and after the entire pool was tested, the winners made sweet love (genetic algorithm style) and the losers died till they were dead. Long story short - the blues scale won.

    I actually had much higher aspirations for the project before the end. I had to whittle it down to just scales because I needed something that could easily be represented as a bit string (in this case, 12 bits determining whether a given tone was part of the scale). I really wanted to generate good, listenable music based entirely on votes from live bodies. It could be done in this way, but you'd have to bring in many other aspects of music to get there (rhythm, tempo, timbre, range, and (shudder) harmony for example). You could do the exact same process with each of these separately, or combine them where practical. I would certainly be willing to provide my code to anyone who wanted to try.

    • This is a really cool idea! You should make it available on sourceforge.
    • > It could be done in this way, but you'd have to bring in many other aspects
      > of music to get there (rhythm, tempo, timbre, range, and (shudder) harmony
      > for example).

      Forget harmony. Really, forget it. Real music doesn't *need* harmony, because *real* music has counterpoint. Harmony is just a cheap immitation. Music that's really worth listening to has counterpoint.

      I am not convinced that a computer could write the really good stuff, but you could try it. It'd be a good hobby / spare time pro
  • by syrinx ( 106469 )
    Mine was working for NASA for a couple months, working on their imaging software for detecting damage to the space shuttle while it's in orbit.

    Not sure if that helps you though.
  • by blackcoot ( 124938 ) on Saturday August 27, 2005 @08:10PM (#13418391)
    octave needs a hell of a lot of work. some suggestions:

    1) a non-sucky plotting interface (there are some packages which claim to do just this, but i can't get bloody VTK to compile, so they're basically useless)

    2) an optimization engine for octave

    3) .oct functions which can read a multitude of image formats, write a multitude of image formats, display images, implement the equivalent of ginput, and provide the basic functionality of the image processing toolkit (if you pick this and do a good job, i will buy you dinner). what meagre image processing functions octave has all fork off a copy of imagemagick, which is *painfully* slow

    4) .oct functions to read and create movies (possibly as part of #3)

    all of these projects demonstrate several key skills: good c++, good matlab, and the fundamentals of engineering with existing code.

    other suggestions:

    5) something like mtl (matrix template library, c++ code which uses expression templates and what not to try to help the compiler produce optimized code) that doesn't suck (their lu factorization produced plain /wrong/ results last time i used it). major bonus points for implementing matrix factorizations, and eigendecompositions

    6) fix gnu's binutils so that they can use libraries generated by VC++

    7) an optimized c++ toolkit for developing digital video processing and computer vision software under linux. i envision this as a kind of directshow lite --- you'd supply standard interfaces and a set of plugins providing basic transforms (color space conversions, for example), thread pools, and a nice gui to edit processing graphs and run them

    incidentally, most of these things have been on my todo list for a long time. i think i'm going to crack at least the image reading and display portion of #4 over labor day weekend.
  • by Some guy named Chris ( 9720 ) on Saturday August 27, 2005 @08:34PM (#13418537) Journal
    My project was to create a system for algorithmic music composition. My dream was to be able to tweak parameters to generate contextually apropriate soundtracks for video games, or other non-scripted events.

    Research involved dealing with music theory, AI, midi, and several languages, including neural networks and ArtIM.

    Lots of fun, very stressful waiting for uncertain results, and in the end, I met with limited success, but learned a lot and impressed my professor with my ability to bring multiple ideas and techniques to bear on a problem.

  • Senior AI Project (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OmgTEHMATRICKS ( 836103 ) on Saturday August 27, 2005 @08:42PM (#13418567) Journal
    Amusing anecdote: I was an undergrad at the University of Missouri, Rolla and bored in my Senior AI course. Well, a little bored. We seemed to be spending an inordinate amount of time studying Expert Systems, a path that I thought would yield little fruit in achieving true machine intelligence.

    After one of the Expert System lectures I asked Professor Arlan DeKock whether Expert Systems didn't seem a little bit too much like more sophisticated if-then-else branching systems, perhaps with a bit of if-then-else-maybe thrown in. He considered that for a little while and asked what I'd rather be working on. I said Natural Language Processing. Perhaps something like Zork.

    He said, "Well, isn't that just a slightly more sophisticated version of a compiler?" He had me a little bit, but I was willing to give it a shot. He told me I'd never finish it by the end of the semester. That sounded like a challenge, so I took him up on it.

    I did a ton of research on NL parsing and imperative command processing and eventually learned a ton about linguistics, Zork, object-oriented programming and AST parsing in LISP. A fantastic adventure. (Thank you Messrs. Winston and Horn)

    As to when I finished, well, believe it or not I actually had a minimal space adventure coded and tested and ready to demo for Dr. DeKock 3 minutes before it was time. Of course, my other studies took a *slight* hit. 8-)

    The really crazy thing was that the good Doctor was getting into and playing the adventure. One of the puzzles in the adventure prevented you from leaving a room until you gave a can of oil to a robot. He would block your way to the exit otherwise. Rather than solving the puzzle the inteded way, the professor picked up the robot and put him in his backpack. I didn't take physics into account and my adventure let him do that. He then exited the room and the robot could do nothing. The game / adventure actually let him do that and handled it properly.

    I was a little dismayed that the *user* won by doing something I hadn't expected, but I was thrilled that my system was logically processing a world that in a moderately sophisticated way.

    I got an A.

    Then I got some sleep.

    • I was an undergrad at the University of Missouri, Rolla

      You poor, poor soul. ;)

      - Fellow UMR alumn

    • demo? open source? please? :)
    • It's funny to hear about this, because I've just recently posted something on Slashdot to the effect of "What ever happened to CLI adventure games (Zork, Kings Quest)? With all the work put in to making cool 3D graphics and physics engines, isn't someone working on a new/advanced command line interpreters?"

      I've always missed the sort of thought that went into those command line games. Clicking the "use" button while facing an object isn't the same. Are you supposed to open it, take it, break it, or turn

  • My senior year in college - the first time - I wrote a program which would automatically derive proofs for arguments of propositional logic, or declare them unverifiable. I wrote it in Prolog (a language I'd learned studying abroad at the University of Aberdeen), and drew upon the Logic class I'd taken over in the Philosophy department. I coded up a batch of theorems and axioms (e.g. transitivity, DeMorgan's), plus a shell to parse the input and return the results, then told the Prolog machine to go solve!
  • My senior project (in '99) was to make a distributed 'make' system that was client/server based, could deal with multiple architectures, deal with cross-compilers lending a hand, and status monitoring of it all. Oh, and base it off standard make files, with no other changes to code needed besides running dmake (distributed make) rather than make. Oh, and present full High Level Design and Low Level Design docs before implementation (which actually helped a lot). Used C for most of it, except the GUI (I
  • by sootman ( 158191 ) on Saturday August 27, 2005 @09:26PM (#13418793) Homepage Journal
    I am a third year CS major. This year I have a two semester senior project course in which I can spend two semesters on a project of my choosing. What was your project, and please include a link to the source code. TIA! :-)
  • by goodenoughnickname ( 874664 ) on Saturday August 27, 2005 @09:36PM (#13418832)
    ...with rice and beans on the side.

    Oops, I'm sorry -- that was my señor project.
  • by Bastian ( 66383 ) on Saturday August 27, 2005 @10:08PM (#13418948)
    . . .some stereo vision software. It just found the 3D coordinates of points in a pair of images taken from webcams. The lesson I learned? Ambitious projects make bad senior pojects. Choosing that project was probably the stupidest thing I've ever done, with the possible exception of picking up smoking.

    I spent the whole year programming until 2 or 3AM every night, and then I'd get up at 6 or 7 the next morning. For a whole damn year. I still barely finished the project in time to graduate. If I hadn't had the wherewithall to make a schedule for the year and start staying up late the moment I realized how tight my very first deadline was, I probably wouldn't have had a chance.

    The other kids who did boring crap (like tooling around with feedforward neural networks and producing graphs about convergence time versus various properties of the network's topology) graduated with good grades, too. And they slept more, didn't hate their lives, and got to go out drinking with their friends. Me? I pretty much wasted my entire senior year on that damn project.

    Pick something that's not too ambitious. I recommend something that involves modifying existing software, and something that you can easily scale up should you prove to have more time to work on it. It's much harder to go the other way should you find you're running out of time, and there's no guarantee your professors will give you an "A for effort" should you fail to complete the project.

      You should spend your senior year hanging out with your friends on the last year you'll all be together, not rotting in front of some computer terminal. You've got the rest of your life to make OCR software and write optimizing compilers and such.
    • While I'm not a big fan of playing the victim card, you got screwed. Your advisor/professor/whatever should have politely chuckled and asked for something a little less ambitious. I've seen less ambitious Master's theses.

      Biting off more than you can chew is an extremely common programmer failing, one many never outgrow, but even for those who do it's usually a matter of decades. Most senior projects should be rejected, and substituted with something smaller, at least in my experience.

      For those of you in a s
  • Write a small bittorrent client (there are plenty of libs out there, or for brownie points, write your own). Edgy, useful and you could even report on it to slashdot and start up a sourceforge project or something.

    That or a SIP client. Voice chat is a big topic these days and you could peek at the source of projects like phonegaim to get insight for your own code.

    Good luck. Those are 2 programs that I think would be useful, fun, not too hard and good for your resume!
  • Some advice... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CarlinWithers ( 861335 ) on Sunday August 28, 2005 @01:48AM (#13419550)
    I had to do a final project just last semester, and there are a few tips that I can share with you.

    My project was a computer engineering project. We controlled a bunch of simple devices over the web through a server that we had set up.

    One thing I learned was to have backup plans and modularity. We listed somewhere between 6-8 devices that we thought might work. We ended up getting 3 of them to work.

    What was nice about that was that we could still deliver those 3 devices (which showed up the project that presented right after us which picked a single device and got it to work in a similar fashion).

    But we also could scale the amount of work. If things had gone better, and we'd had a little more time, we could have added another device or two. As it is, it took us the semester to get what we did working.

    I'd reccomend trying to pick a similar project where you can get a basic set of features working relatively easily, but also have a bunch of other interesting features that you can bring out if you have the time for them. That way you're guaranteed a project that does something right, and the ability to challenge yourself if you need to.

    Also, always make sure to have more than one method for doing each part of the project. Inevitably you figure out that something isn't going to work out the way that you thought it would. We had to start from scratch on portions of the project a couple of times. It was immensely helpful to have a solid backup plan to start working on right away.

    Hope that helps.

  • ...pick something you already did last semester and inform your investors ^Winstructor that this was something you just completed....
  • My final year project was a java applett based voice recording system. It was commercially sponsored and had to record and perform basic editing options on audio, compress it to a variety of compressed formats and then upload it to a server. Its used mainly for recording prompts to Interactive Voice Response Systems..

  • Here are some ideas:
    • Write an automated teaching system that will make college professors obsolete.
    • Rewrite MS-Windows XP in Perl.
    • Write a help assistant for Open Office that takes the form of a pop-up staple named "Stapley".
    • Write a library for NASA that can determine whether a measurement is in Standard or Metric and automatically convert between them when necessary.
    • Develop a methodology for maintaining software that doesn't involove adding feature after feature over time until, after a few years, the wh
  • I was in a similar situation just this term at school. Althought it wasn't a senior project course, one of my programing courses has a project that basically came down to "do whatever you want, but be sure that you can demonstrate your ability to X, Y, Z and be able to justify design decisions, etc."
    I found the best way to chose a project was to think of something that I found interesting, and knew enough about to be able to reasonably finish the project in a term, but that would still offer me an opportu
  • This may work, but I should point out that my degree is in Computer Engineering and Design rather than Computer Science.

    Think outside the box. Instead of thinking of a computer project that can occupy a couple of semesters think of a project that could use computing to improve its function.

    By way of example, I wanted a PIC programming to control a ham radio transceiver using a program where I only had a rough flowchart. Rather than buy a programmer then struggle with the software I contacted a local univers
  • Our computer lab had a load of ghetto Sparc IPXs an similar machines, and a single Sparc 5 with audio output and speakers. In our second year, one of the other geeks hacked together a "jukebox" program that ran as a server and allowed people to telnet in and queue MP3s to be played.

    For my project, I rewrote the jukebox in Java. It used the ident protocol to log users in, so no usernames/passwords were required (which was fine for a relatively friendly environment like a university network). It checked th
  • I was an interdisciplinary student: Computers, Psychology and Writing. As such, my capstone had to find a way to bridge all 3 that all 3 departments would agree to.

    I decided on AI for Games. The game I ended up doing was Mastermind. For the CS side, I did it in Java (which the school had 0 courses in at the time). For the Psychology side, I designed and implemented my own psychological test to be used for the personalities. For the Writing side, I did a Bethsheda-like Q&A to choose a personality.

    The f
  • My suggestion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by swillden ( 191260 ) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Sunday August 28, 2005 @12:25PM (#13421148) Homepage Journal

    Here's a little project that I've been meaning to do for quite a while that I think would be a nice senior project. A full implementation would be way too much work, but a simplified version could be both accessible and useful. I think this is the sort of project that, if done well, could generate enough real-world usage and interest to make a name for the author.

    A while ago I noticed that most geeky homes and small businesses have something in common: Lots of computers, few of which are backed up effectively, and most of which have disk drives that are significantly larger than needed. So it occurred to me that a backup solution could make use of this spare storage to create additional copies of important, or even all files, on different disks and in different machines. Files that already exist on multiple machines need not be duplicated further, so there would be no need to bother excluding most system files from the backup system.

    If that sounds at all interesting, you can read this description [willden.org] I wrote a while ago while thinking through the issues and just threw on my web site (very plain OOo-generated HTML, sorry).

    I'll get around to building this thing eventually, but I'd love to see someone use it as a project to get it started.

  • There are plenty of Eletrical or Computer engineers that can't code well enough to do their dream projects.. Probably much in the same way you can't design a system well enough to create yours..

    I'd try to find someone in another department, who is actually intellegent enough to design something fun, but that would require a great deal of software as well..

    A good example would be some sort of robot that could be entered into some sort of competition, IEEE or otherwise, that would give you more credibilit

  • I was a medical physics major w/ a minor in computer vision technology. As a point, your senior project will get you into the door. And believe it or not, for many IT pros, that senior project will be relevant for alteast 5 years in you ever get laid off or leave your job. I still have potential employers asking about that project and I graduate (BS, Applied Physics) in 2000. Having said that, I would suggest doing a subject that you would tinker with even if your diploma didn't depend on it. That will
  • I did a compiler from lambda calculus (and through a set of m4 macros some higher level constructs like arithmetic and conditions) to various set of combinators - from SK upwards. I even came up with a moderately novel approach to combinator evaluation.

    Now this was not useful other than it taught me a lot about functional languages and some related topics such as garbage collection techniques. I found it fascinating - which was far better than "useful".

    Projects at this stage of your career can be fun beca

  • I'm a junior, and my major is Gaming and Simulation design. I was in engineering my freshman year, so I have a feel for hardware too.

    My idea for my senior project is to make a virtual solarsystem. I would have to write the graphics engine, from the ground up, or borrow some from other engines. But I want to make a front end that you choose how many planets, what mass, what color, what size, what topography, maybe what main elements (toss some science in there too. Then you run the simulation, you can watch
  • alternative ideas (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sargosis ( 807169 )
    Yuo could always try to make something that's likely to bring you some money in the long run. My senior project involves the creation and use of a particle-based defensive weapon (no, i'm not making this up). Im also currently working on getting a patent to this, so i apologize for leaving this vague. But so far, the research has allowed me to write a 60page paper on the technology as well as test data. Try it, then you won't be forced to end up like some of these other guys, complaining about their jobs.
  • The one thing I didn't know about the final year project at my university was how important it was to get in as early as possible with the professor you want to supervise the project. I made the mistake of going to lectures first and turning up at 11am to find the professors with the projects I was interested in were all fully booked. I ended up working on a project dealing heavily in logic theory and prolog programming, which was fine, but not my first choice by a long shot.

    A couple of interesting projects
  • I was a computer science major, with minors in math and physics. I wrote a program to interface with a bunch of temperature controllers being used on one of the experimental setups in the physics department. They were having grad students sit up all night recording the temperature every half hour, and setting the controller's set points manually. I wrote an application that used a medium speed serial interface to connect to the controllers, poll them, and set them at certain times. The controllers used

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.