Choosing a Project

A client can be any person or organization except yourself (e.g., a Cornell department, a local company or other external organization, a member of faculty or staff, etc.). Some potential projects and clients will be suggested but you are encouraged to identify your own.  There should be a firm intention by the client to use the software in production. Aim for a minimum of a three-year production life with many users.

In selecting a project, think broadly. Your project can be an application, system software, or even a toolkit. Software engineering covers everything from cell phones to supercomputers. The only conditions are that there must be a real client and real users.

Because of the need for the client to attend presentations, we discourage clients who are not based in the Ithaca area.  In the past, there have been successful projects with clients from Syracuse, but projects for more distant clients have rarely worked well.

Student organizations

If is possible to do a project for a Cornell student organization, with an officer of the organization as client. If you propose such a project, the course team needs to meet with the client before a definite decision is made.

Entrepreneurship projects

In the past we have had several projects for student entrepreneurs. Some have worked well; others have been less successful. If you propose such a project, the course team needs to meet with the client before a definite decision is made.


Since every software project is different, there is no set list of deliverables that every project must provide. Part of your task is to decide what is needed for this specific project. Typical deliverables include working code, documentation, training materials, test suites, etc.

  • The projects are divided into four parts, each of which ends in a milestone. At each milestone, the team submits a written report.
  • After the second, third, and final milestones, the team makes a presentation to the client and the course team.

See the Assignments page for more information. The three primary criteria for a successful project are: satisfying the client's needs, usability of the product, and maintainability over the life of the product.

These are group projects, but you will also be rewarded individually for special contributions to the project, or failure to provide a fair share of the effort.

Technical environment

Most projects will use C++, Java, Python, or Perl, on Unix, Windows, or Macintosh computers, tablets, or smartphones, but you are encouraged to use whatever is right for your particular product.

Every project should use a project management system for their documentation and code. This should be chosen in conjunction with the client. One option is the GForge system provided by Computing and Information Science.