Capstone projects merge into tech careers

Julia Owsen
Julia Owsen displays her project poster. UW Bothell

As their final assignment at the University of Washington Bothell, dozens of fall graduates in Computer Science and Software Engineering (CSSE) presented posters on their capstone projects at the North Creek Events Center.

Some of the capstones included internship experiences or other community-based projects with businesses or other partners that are now helping students turn their Bachelor of Science degrees into full-time jobs.

For many, the exit ramp from the university was also an immediate entrance ramp to a tech career.

Introduction as interns

Alexander Morgenstern had only one free weekend in December before starting work the following Monday with a Seattle startup where he interned.

“It was a really cool opportunity,” Morgenstern said of his project at Rhino Security Labs, a new Seattle cybersecurity company that tests client computers by simulating hacker attacks. “I was getting my feet wet in the software industries world, building solutions and coming up with new ideas and ways to make a difference.”

Anthony Mbugua joined join T-Mobile later in January, moving up from intern to an associate software engineer. His internship project, a chatbot for T-Mobile’s platform engineering team, showed him how classroom concepts can be applied in industry.

Vinh Nguyen, left, describes his project.
Vinh Nguyen, left, describes his project. UW Bothell

Vinh Nguyen also has a job with T-Mobile after his internship testing applications.

“It was really cool seeing classes getting applied,” Nguyen said of his project. “Working in an agile environment was very eye-opening.”

Julia Owsen’s project was to suggest navigation improvements for UW Bothell’s own website. At the same time, she improved her skills in project management and working with a team in a professional environment. Owsen accepted a job as a software engineer at Cisco in San Jose, California.

Building the tech workforce

Fall quarter CSSE grads
Fall quarter CSSE grads. UW Bothell

The final project each quarter for students completing the CSSE degree gives them academic credit for their experience with business, government, nonprofit or faculty partners. The 61 presenters in the fall, followed 40 in the summer 2018 quarter — record numbers, according to Janet McDaniel, the computer science internship coordinator in the School of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics.

Project-based capstones that connect students to real-world projects showcase how UW Bothell students are prepared for high-demand jobs in computer science and software engineering, said Bill Erdly, associate professor and division chair.

Erdly was founding director of the computer science program in 1996. “I look forward,” he said, “to this continuing to grow.”

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