CSE 480 Special Topics (Departmental Honors, 3 credits)

Catalog description:

Special problems decided by students in consultation with instructor. For students in departmental or university honors program.


Permission of department chair prior to registration.


Outstanding students in the Computer Science & Software Engineering Department have the opportunity to earn the distinction "Departmental Honors" at graduation.  This is accomplished by the student carrying out a significant independent study project under the supervision of a faculty member during their senior year.  The requirements for admission to the program and for completion of the program are outlined below.

Requirements for ADMISSION to the program:

  1.  A minimum of a 3.5 GPA in CSE and a minimum 3.0 GPA overall.
  2. Completion of at least 96 credit hours in  the CSE curriculum including STA 368 (or STA 401), CSE 274, CSE 385, and all prerequisites.
  3. Agreement from a CSE faculty member to sponsor your project.  (Generally, the student would seek this sponsorship during the second semester of the junior year in anticipation of carrying out the program during the senior year.

Requirements for COMPLETION of the program:

  1.  Development of a written plan for completing the project.  This plan must be approved by the sponsoring faculty member and the department chair. This plan should include the following:
    1. Statement of the project goal.
    2. Statement of the approach to be used in achieving the goal including a readings list if appropriate.
    3. Description of the tangible product expected at the completion of the project.
    4. Credit hours of CSE 480 to be taken as independent study to complete this project (minimum=3 and maximum=6; up to 3 hours may be used to satisfy the CSE elective requirement).
    5. Specification of any CSE electives that are required to complete this project.
  2. Completion of the requirements specified in the written plan.
  3.  Completion of a well-written technical report summarizing the project and results.  This report must be submitted to the sponsoring faculty member for approval at least three weeks prior to graduation to allow time to correct an unacceptable report.
  4. Make a public presentation of your results.

If you have questions about this program, please consult with the CSE department office staff.

Course Outcomes

  1. The student demonstrates an understanding of the contexts that define an open-ended research problem through analysis of existing approaches for solving the problem and the subsequent identification of requirements for a viable solution
    • The student can formulate a succinct definition of a research problem domain, including defining the problem boundaries
    • The student can produce a survey of related research and perform a thorough literature search
  2. The student can apply critical thinking skills on an open-ended research problem to analyze alternative solutions and select an optimal solution while addressing multiple criteria (such as technical, environmental, economic or societal issues)
    • The student describes, in detail, multiple approaches to solving the problem
    • The student explicitly states multiple criteria for evaluating proposed solutions, and can synthesize and evaluate alternatives to select an appropriate solution
  3. Understanding contexts and critical thinking leads to reflection and informed action. The student can design an informed solution to an open-ended research problem based on reflection
    • The student produces a high-quality artifact that addresses the problem. (Acceptable artifacts could be functioning software systems, mathematical analyses/proofs, research papers, or other products appropriate to the course topic.)
    • The student demonstrates the ability to follow standard development or research methodologies, including developing and testing models, or using contemporary software engineering principles, as appropriate
  4. The student can effectively evaluate their solution to an open-ended research problem to determine if their solution solves the problem. This should include, as appropriate, performing experiments, case study evaluations, user studies, or producing proofs
  5. The student can demonstrate written and oral communication skills necessary to describe results to both technical and non-technical audiences
    • The student can prepare and deliver an effective presentation or paper describing the work performed
    • The student can prepare and deliver various written engineering reports as for use by the client, other researchers, or the faculty mentor. Students should demonstrate an awareness of the needs of the target audience
    • The student can write and submit a technical paper on their work to the CSE Student Research Journal, or to another appropriate professional venue