CIS 400/401 Senior Design Projects 2015/2016

Instructor Information:
Instructor:Ani Nenkova
E-Mail:nenkova [at]
Office:Levine 505
Hours:By appointment
Instructor: Jonathan M. Smith
E-Mail: jms [at]
Office:Levine 604
Hours:By appointment
TA:Ameya More
E-Mail: ameyam [at] seas.upenn
Hours:By appointment
TA:Sharon Ravindran
E-Mail:shravi [at]
Hours:By appointment

Please see Piazza and Canvas for announcements and course instructions.

Course Structure:

Goals: The goal of this course is to provide an opportunity to define, design, and execute a project of your own choosing. Evaluation is based on your ability to select an interesting topic, communicate your objectives in writing and presentations, to accurately gauge what resources are required to complete your chosen task, and your ability to execute your plan.

Course Mechanics: In CIS 400 you are required to submit two revisions of your project description. After the first submission you will sign up for a design review meeting. During the 10-15 minute meeting we will review your document, discuss, and tweak your objectives. The second revision, due later in the semester, is expected to be a longer and more technical account of your approach and progress. It should also include a prototype demonstration. This demonstration, along with project summary slides, will be presented to your peers during presentations near the conclusion of the Fall semester.

In CIS 401, your progress is expected to continue. A mid-term interview meeting will ensure student teams are on track to complete their goals. At the conclusion of spring term, final progress will again be presented during in-class presentations. Moreover, CIS Demo Day will allow students to present their work to judges, along with posters summarizing their contributions. Winning projects will be recognized (with prizes), and top finishers will advance to the SEAS-wide competition.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Are one-student teams allowed? We encourage students to work in pairs/groups. This allows teams to research questions of greater complexity, at greater depth. If you absolutely cannot find teammates, please talk to Insup and the TA's.

  • My project requires buying expensive equipment. Can I get reimbursed? If you have to buy equipment for a project, email Insup and the TA's with potential products, along with a price and justification. To avoid unpleasant surprises, contact us before actually buying the products.

  • Can I have a project advisor from outside the CIS department? Yes, but Insup will likely require an additional advisor within the CIS department who can evaluate your work from a CIS perspective.

  • I have independently produced a project idea, but can't find an advisor. What do I do? It may be possible for the course instructor to advise your project. Please speak to Insup about this.

  • Can I register for a class that conflicts with CIS 400/401? Relative to prior editions of this course, this year's version will be placing additional emphasis on, (a) in-class presentations by student groups, and (b) information sessions by external lecturers. If it is necessary, course conflicts should be discussed with the professor.

    Current Projects::

  • Senior Project's 2015/2016

    Ideas & Past Year's Projects::

  • Senior Project's 2014/2015
  • Senior Project's 2013/2014
  • Senior Project's 2012/2013
  • Senior Project's 2011/2012
  • Senior Project's 2010/2011
  • Senior Project's 2009/2010
  • Senior Project's 2008/2009
  • Senior Project's 2007/2008
  • Senior Project's 2006/2007
  • Senior Project's 2005/2006
  • Senior Project's 2004/2005

    Project Resources:

  • Senior Design Project Course Guide @ Penn Libraries
  • Information Resources in CIS @ Penn Libraries
  • Science & Engineering Libraries @ Penn
  • Conquer (resources for undergraduates interested in computer science research)

  • Derwent Innovations Index (Patent Library)
  • CiteSeer Digital Library and Citation Repository
  • ACM Digital Library
  • IEEE/IEE Electronic Library
  • Full-text version of "Lecture Notes in Computer Science" (lots of books)

  • Plagiarism - What it is and how to avoid it -- DON'T DO IT!