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Teams, Design, Mentoring, and Managing for Computer Science Underclassmen

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Recruitment, Retention, and First-year Programs in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1264.1 - 25.1264.12



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Paper Authors


David Wilczynski University of Southern California

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David Wilczynski has a long history at USC. He was the first Ph.D. graduate from USC Information Science Institute in 1975, where some of the initial work on Arpanet was done. His research specialty at the time was in Knowledge Representation. In 1984, he left USC for almost 20 years to be an entrepreneur. Most of his work was in manufacturing, both in Detroit and Japan. During that time, he worked on programming real-time systems using an Agent methodology, which he now teach in his CSCI 201 class. He returned to USC in 2002 to teach full time. Mostly, he worries about how to make undergraduate engineering students more professional. Once a tennis player, he is now trying to become a golfer. Bridge, cooking, and his family take the rest of his time.

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Gisele Ragusa University of Southern California

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Michael Crowley University of Southern California

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Teams, Design, Mentoring, and Managing for Computer Science Underclassmen David Wilczynski Michael Crowley Gisele Ragusa University of Southern California September, 2011 AbstractGiven that 85% of computer science undergraduates immediately take jobs after graduation,industry's complaint about their readiness for "real" work must be taken seriously. Several skillsare missing, among which are working on a team, professionalism in coding and documentation,and understanding large systems. In addition, working on teams raises issues of being managedand managing. We have developed a novel three-class sequence—C3, C4, then PM—forsophomores and juniors that directly address these issues.C3, the third class in USC’s computer science programming sequence, is populated withsophomores and is about object-oriented programming, graphics, and user-interfaces. C4, the lastclass in the programming sequence, is about advanced programming concepts, includingconcurrency, design methods, unit testing, and agent programming. We teach pedagogic materialfor the first half of the semester, then in the second half students form inter-class teams for theirmain project. The PM class trains students in project management and then puts them on the linemanaging the C3/C4 teams. Many of the PM students have already taken the C3/C4 sequence,but we have graduate students who have not. The projects are sophisticated, requiring significantdesign, scheduling, and teamwork over an eight week period. In addition, since students in C4have already taken C3, they are in a position to mentor the younger students even though theprojects are different from semester to semester.We have gotten validation that this approach is working. In class surveys better than 90% of thestudents liked it. We have also heard from our industrial review board and company recruitersthat this plan is to their liking. Students from this program are receiving top internships and findthemselves leading their internship teams. We also get letters from former students about how farahead of their peers they are in their first jobs.

Wilczynski, D., & Ragusa, G., & Crowley, M. (2012, June), Teams, Design, Mentoring, and Managing for Computer Science Underclassmen Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22021

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