TM421 The M301 Project (2006)

Level 3, 30 points.

The IT & Computing honours degree requires students to undertake a project and submit a report as a form of dissertation. The project can relate to one of the qualifying third level courses which, in my case, meant I had a choice of database development (M358), software engineering (M301) or artificial intelligence (T396). Each of these had its own associated project framework, though I understand that this has since changed and there is one overarching project course.

Anyway, I chose the option to specify, design and develop a software system using Java as the implementation language, as I felt pretty comfortable with the material from M301. I figured I could work on a simple networked backup solution, which tied in to what I was doing at work. All good so far.

So, I got down to the course materials which were sparse to say the least, but pointed me towards building a project proposal and submitting it as an assignment (with a deadline date to keep me honest). I didn't do this particularly well, and had to then dedicate a fair bit of time in the next assignment refining (read: redoing) the proposal.

After that it was a matter of trying to do enough work to make progress and not get bogged down. This did not go well and I found myself going round in circles for quite a while before getting a draft of a report (with more holes than content) for the third assignment.

The project courses are unusual in that they run until December, with the final report actually due for submission before the final assignment (which is a summary of the project presented as a poster). This meant I had to have a finished report submitted before the end of November, so there came a point when I decided to cut my losses in the development front and concentrate on writing up. It turns out that this was a wise choice as putting in effort discussing what I felt had gone wrong with the project resulted in a pretty decent grade.

Overall this was really tough. I felt really isolated for this course and didn't really click with my tutor, who I felt needed to be asked exactly the right questions in order to get decent answers — and I couldn't work out what those questions were. The focus is, however, clearly on reflecting on the process of executing a project, so I managed to cover my other deficiencies. I am, however, very glad that I only needed to do this the once.

This page last modified: 2008-02-26.