Computer Science Capstone

The Computer Science Department offers a number of ways for to kickstart your career and/or graduate studies. One option offered is a series of courses designed to give you direct experience working on a large "capstone" project, performing inovative research or working with industry partners, before you leave school.

What is a Capstone?

Putting the capstone onto the Washington Monument

A capstone is typically a time when you can bring all your experience together to perform some larger, more impressive work. Because capstone projects show off what you can do, they are excellent for resumes, great topics for discussion in job interviews, and can help you when applying to graduate programs.

Like many universities, GMU is beginning to integrate capstone projects into their curriculum and the CS department has set up a unique set of courses to let you pick and choose your own capstone experience. We are also partnering with a number of local companies to provide advanced students with direct industry experience on company mentored projects.

Am I Ready?

Research sign

Many students are nervous about undertaking a capstone project. This is understandable since it is a large undertaking, but the courses we offer are designed to walk you through, step-by-step, what you need to do.

If you already have a cool idea... taking a capstone course can help you refine your idea into an actual project plan, help you get a team of like-minded people to work with you (if you want), and allow you to prototype your idea. You'll get plenty of feedback and support to help make your idea happen. Capstones are a great way to test out that new game concept or cool start-up idea you had last year and haven't had time for.

If you're already working on research... taking a capstone course can help keep you on track and get the feedback you need to get your project done. Plus you get course credit and a place to show it off!

If you don't have any ideas... not a problem! We can get you ideas or other people with ideas. We can also find you a faculty member who is working on things your interested in. Plus, if you work on one of the industry sponsored projects, they already had the ideas for you, so you just have to run with it!

You are not alone! (unless you want to be...)

You can work in teams or individually, so bring your friends!

CS Capstone Courses
GMU Engineering Building

Unlike many capstone programs, the computer science sequence can be taken as a tradiational two semester sequence, or as a one semester course focused on either (a) research and project design or (b) project exhibition. For those interested in working with one of our industry partners, the two semester sequence is the choice for you.

CS390: Research and Project Design Principles in Computing

Not sure where to start? This course provides an introduction to the research and project design. You will learn about the tools of the trade and various design principles. Those doing a two semester capstone will create a project plan and prototype for CS490, while those taking only CS390 will investigate a research topic from the stages of proposal through preliminary results.

Sample Syllabus (Spring 2016)

CS490: Design Exhibition

Already have a plan? This course provides an opportunity to work on a semester-long project or research paper. At the end of the semester you'll present your work (and faculty members and industry partners are invited to attend).

Sample Syllabus (Spring 2016)

Industry Partners
Computer science student at work

If you're interested in getting some industry experience before you head out into the workforce, then you might be interested in working with one of our new industry partners. Each semester the companies create various open-ended projects and offer mentors who have regular weekly or biweekly meetings with your team.

Each semester in CS390 a number of company sponsored projects are available which can be continued into CS490. Very occasionally industry teams also have openings for additional members in CS490.

The companies and projects change from semester to semester (so contact the current prof. for the semester you plan to take CS390). Below is a sample of companies who have sponsored projects:

Example Projects
Flockbot robots from GMU's Autonomous Robotics Laboratory

In recent years, students have done everything from computer gaming, to robotics, to network security. Below is a sample of previous semester projects which might help you get an idea of the types of projects that can be done during a capstone. It should be noted that a number of projects were presented at undergraduate research events and won various awards and/or received other recognition.

Sample Student Projects (Spring 2014-2015)

Sample Industry Projects (Spring 2016)