CMSC 435

Software Engineering

A capstone course at the University of Maryland

Software engineering deals with the quality issues that arise during construction of applications involving computers and systems. How do we precisely determine all that an intended program is supposed to do? And how do we proceed in situations where we can't know everything about a proposed system in advance? How do we know a proposed system will actually solve a given problem? How do we communicate our needs among developers, and how do we keep them working together productively? As the system is constructed, how do we confirm that it does what we really wanted it to do? Among all the ways one might solve a problem, which designs and implementations will bring the lowest costs, least risk and greatest long-term value? 435 will address these questions and many more.

Because this is a 'capstone' course (read: lab class) we are interested in ensuring that not only do students have knowledge of software engineering topics, but also that students have given us an evidence-based way to confirm whether they possess skills and exhibit professional patterns of thought which are appropriate to our discipline. We require substantial pre-reqs to enter the class in anticipation that we will integrate that prior preparation with our content, then we will help students learn better how to apply it.

[Here, let's say that again in order to be clear: this course is not about teaching you how to program or training you to use specific tools. It is about helping you learn how to create the right products in a reliable and cost-effective way. You know ... like we're engineers.]

Our goals are thus substantial, and our strategy for reaching them involves solving a challenging problem in collaboration with other students on a team. What we also just cautioned is that demand for time outside the scheduled class period is substantial, chiefly in meetings with the team, mentor and project clients. Please plan accordingly.

At this time the campus is set for on-campus instruction. Things may change! Who knows? We don't, so this syllabus may be updated as other information about campus conditions become available.

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