Student guide to the CSS capstone
As students near completion of the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Software Engineering, they must enroll in a 10-credit capstone course. Typically students complete 10 credits (400 hours) of the Capstone in their final quarter(s). They learn by connecting classroom theory and community-based experience through the completion of an academic project. Project options consist of internships, research with faculty, individual projects, or group projects.
CSS 497: Capstone consists of a final project that further enhances and exemplifies the experience at the University of Washington, Bothell. The following series of steps need to be completed to satisfy the Capstone requirement of the Computing & Software Systems Program.
View the CSS 497 course for more information.
Information for employers & sponsors
The final core requirement for advanced CSS students is a 10 credit (400 hour) capstone project. Most students elect to complete their capstone project by completing an internship with local industry. Learn more about the employment requirements and benefits employers receive by employing advanced CSS students.
Capstone advising & information sessions
As students near completion of the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Software Engineering, they must enroll in a 10-credit capstone course.
All CSSE majors must attend a CSS 497 information session before making an individual appointment.
Attend a CSS 497 capstone information session via Zoom
Make sure to have your UW student number ready. Info sessions are 50 – 60 minutes long.
- 11 a.m. – noon & 2 – 3 p.m. Wednesdays
- 10 – 11 a.m. Fridays
If you have a quick question about the CSS 497 capstone requirement or your capstone colloquium presentation, attend a drop-in session via Zoom:
- 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. Mondays
- 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Tuesdays
- 11 a.m. – noon Thursdays
STEM Capstone Coordinator
Discovery Hall 352-V
Schedule an appointment online!
Select the Care Unit: “Academic Advising” and the Service: “Capstone/ Fieldwork/ Practicum Advising”
Are you eligible to enroll into CSS 497?
Students must be considered eligible before they can register for CSS 497. Eligible students have completed all of the CSS core classes:
CSS 301, 342, 343, 350, 360, 370, 422, 430 and a minimum of 10 credits of CSS elective courses. Under certain circumstances, a student who has yet to complete one or two of these requirements may petition to register for CSS 497. For further information on starting the Capstone early, contact the CSS Program Office.
Getting started: what you need to know
The Capstone requirement is 10 credits, which is equivalent to a 400 hour project. To complete the project in one quarter, students would need to complete 40 hours per week for ten weeks.
Projects must be considered challenging for an advanced CSS student, well-defined, and utilize competencies gained in the CSS core and CSS Elective courses.
Due to the length of some projects, it is possible, upon the approval of the CSS faculty advisor, to divide the Capstone over two or more quarters. If a project extends over two or more quarters, students may need to prepare a status report for evaluation and grading by the faculty advisor.
One quarter prior to beginning your Capstone, you should make an appointment with the STEM Capstone Coordinator:
Janet McDaniel, CSS Internship Coordinator
- Phone: (425) 352-5287
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Location: Discovery Hall 352-V
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Entry codes will not be assigned until the CSS 497 contract has been approved and signed by the Faculty Advisor, Company Sponsor, and CSS Chair.
||Last Day Deadline Date**
||March 8, 2023 (priority)*
||April 12, 2023 (last day to submit contract)
||May 31, 2023 (priority)*
||June 15, 2023 (last day to submit contract)
||September 20, 2023 (priority)*
||October 4, 2023 (last day to submit contract)
||December 19, 2023 (priority)*
||January 11, 2024 (last day to submit contract)
||March 9, 2024 (priority)*
||April 11, 2024 (last day to submit contract)
||May 30, 2024 (priority)*
||June 15, 2024 (last day to submit contract)
* 3:00 PM DEADLINE TO PROCESS CSS 497 CONTRACT AND GUARANTEE AN ENTRY CODE PRIOR TO THE FIRST DAY OF THE QUARTER.
** 3:00 PM LAST DAY CSS WILL ACCEPT THE CSS 497 CONTRACT FOR THE QUARTER. Late fee may be charged by the Registrar.
All deadlines are subject to change at CSS Chair's or Capstone Coordinator's discretion.
There are five options from which a student must choose when starting the internship process. Each option lists circumstances and criteria, which will help shape the Capstone experience. Before choosing, students should give careful consideration as to which option will be most beneficial to their individual interests and circumstances.
Option 1: Sponsored Internship
In this option, opportunities for projects are identified through internships sponsored by local firms, multi-national corporations, government agencies and non-profit organizations. Some companies have established internship programs, while other companies or organizations will work with the student to find an appropriate internship project. Projects are found either through an individual search or a search using UW resources (see Finding an Internship for more details). Projects are subject to conditions as specified by the sponsor, CSS faculty advisor and the CSS Program.
Option 2: Current Employment
Students currently employed have the option of incorporating their Capstone (CE) requirement within their current job. This option must have approval from the faculty advisor, the employer (i.e. the CE sponsor) and CSS program. Each project must demonstrate academic merit and effort that provides additional benefit to both the student and employer (i.e. the project represents work that is above and beyond what is normally expected by the employer).
Option 3: Faculty Research Internship
A student may work with a faculty member on a research project that has significant implications for industry and/or the community. Each project must demonstrate academic merit and be approved by the CSS program. At least one external Capstone sponsor and/or granting agency must be identified as a reviewer of the work to be completed.
Option 4: Individual Project - Student Defined
A student may identify a computing project that he or she feels meets a need of industry and/or the community. The project must demonstrate academic merit and be approved by the CSS program. The student must identify at least two potential customers (that is, two Capstone sponsors) who will agree to review your project and sign the Capstone Contract agreement. Once these users have been identified, the student must use appropriate software development methodologies to meet deliverable requirements. The student must present the project to the customers and the faculty advisor for final evaluation.
Option 5: Group Project - Student Defined
A group of students may identify a project that meets the requirements specified above. This project, however, must be more complex in nature and have sufficient academic and practical workload and be approved by the CSS program. A detailed project specification and project plan including individual responsibilities and team milestones must accompany a proposal for approval.
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Finding an Internship
CSS will help facilitate student internship searches, but students are ultimately responsible for finding a Capstone Project.
UW resources geared towards helping students find internships are:
- UW Bothell Career Services provides guidance in creating and critiquing resumes interviewing and job search skills workshop, salary negotiation workshops, and mock interview workshops.
- Handshake coordinates job listing and campus interviews and search for internships and jobs.
- Career Fairs provides students with the opportunity to speak with recruiters.
- CSS Internship Coordinators facilitates student internship placement.
Students should also utilize person-to-person networking to help locate internships.
Students who are currently employed have the possibility of conducting their internship at their place of work. For more information, please see Option 2 above.
Some internships offer a salary to students while others may not. Payment for an internship is negotiated between the student and the sponsor. While paid internships are more popular, unpaid internships may provide the possibility of a permanent position once a project has been completed. International students must contact the UWB International Student Advisor and notify the CSS Internship Coordinator before accepting a paid internship.
Remember, Capstone projects do not necessarily have to take place off campus (see Option 3: Faculty Research Internship); UW Bothell faculty may have a need for students to work on research projects. For information about faculty research, please visit our Faculty Research page.
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I found an internship! Now what?
Once a student has found an internship, they need to choose a faculty advisor. Suggestions for choosing a faculty advisor include someone whose research interests coincide with the project, or someone with whom the student can work comfortably. After discussing the project with the faculty advisor, the student must fill out the Capstone Contract. Contracts should be completed as thoroughly as possible and have all salient information attached when turned in to the faculty advisor. The faculty advisor must review and sign the contract before the Capstone sponsor signs. The completed/signed form must be turned into the CSS program office one week before the quarter begins. Once the completed contract has been received and approved by the CSS Internship Coordinator, the student will be given an entry code to enroll in CSS 497 (see Contract Deadlines). Students are expected to maintain contact with their faculty advisor throughout the course of the internship to discuss project status, academic work required, lessons learned, academic models addressed, and other issues associated with the completion of the internship. Most faculty require students to prepare a report for evaluation and grading by faculty advisor at the end of every quarter.
Detailed guidance regarding how to structure your contract and fulfill its obligations can be found on the Specific Guidelines page.
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Core competencies for the Computing and Software Systems (CSS) program are divided into two groups - general and technical competencies.
Part I: Core Competencies
1. Core General Competencies include the following knowledge, skills and abilities:
(a) Analysis & Problem Solving
- Information Gathering
- Systematic Thinking
- Learning by Doing
- Analysis of Alternatives (cost/benefit)
- Collaboration & Team Building
- Managing Change & Uncertainty
- Project Management
- Risk Management
- User Orientation
2. Core Technical Competencies include the following knowledge, skills and abilities:
- Business Case Justification
- Technology Evaluation & Selection
- Process Reengineering Techniques
- CASE Methodologies
- Technology Standards & Procedures
- Discrete Mathematics
- Data Analysis & Statistics
- Quality Assurance
- Hardware Architecture
- Software Architecture
- Social Implications of Technology
- Technical Writing
Part II: Advanced Competencies
The advanced areas require students to gain advanced knowledge, skills and experience in the following areas:
- Requirements Definition & Analysis
- Object-oriented Programming Methodologies
- Functional Design
- Testing Methodologies
- Network Design
- System Performance Monitoring & Analysis
- Event Programming Methodologies
- Algorithm Design & Development
- Managing Reusable Code
- Distributed Computing
- Contemporary Programming Tools
- Internet Applications Development
- Electronic Data Interchange
- Knowledge-Based Systems
- Multimedia information management
- Data Compression Techniques
- Logical Data Modeling
- Data Layout and Access Techniques
- Content Management
- Object-oriented Programming
- Graphical Design and Interpretation
- Contemporary Information Engineering Tools
- Business Case Justification
- Cost/Benefit Analysis
- Interface Design Principles
- Cognitive Psychology
- Systems Specification Techniques
- Software Development Methodologies
- Project Estimation Techniques
- Database Design
- Database Reporting
- Rapid Prototyping
- Usability Testing
- System Administration
- Contemporary Database & Interface Design Tools
- Organizational Analysis
Before completion of the CSS 497 project all students must complete an abstract. The abstract should highlight the major topics/themes in your project and concisely describe the nature of your work. The abstract must be turned in prior to completion of your 10 credits of CSS 497 in order to receive a grade.
The abstract is limited to 200-400 words describing the nature of the project and the results obtained. This abstract is due prior to submission of your final report to your faculty advisor.
The CSS 497 abstract is a statement that summarizes the important points of your project including the conclusion. If you have written a report about the project you may find that you can glean the main ideas from your report to create a concise description of your project. In developing your PowerPoint presentation for the CSS Colloquium you will need to uses these same central themes. An abstract should summarize three things: the basic information about the problem(s) to be solved, the reason why you chose a certain method to produce a solution, and a conclusion.
There are a couple of websites that give more details on how to approach writing an abstract. The people who developed these websites take different perspectives so look through all of the websites to assemble the best help. Don't forget the UW Bothell Writing Center can also help you write an abstract.
Download the capstone abstract form.
Upon the completion of the cooperative education the student is required to present at the CSS Colloquium. The Colloquium includes a poster presentation, and an eight to ten minute oral presentation that describes their experiences and accomplishments in fulfilling their cooperative education requirement. CSS faculty, staff, students, cooperative education sponsors, and the community are invited to attend. The colloquium is scheduled for the Friday of the last week of instruction or during finals week. Questions about the colloquium, including a schedule of presenters, and special requirements for presentations, can be answered by the CSS Internship Coordinator, Janet McDaniel (email@example.com).
Samples of past colloquium presentations can be found outside of the CSS labs (UW1 3rd floor) and you can view the past Colloquium schedules here.
- Summer 2022: August 19, 2022
- Autumn 2022: December 16, 2022
- Winter 2023: March 17, 2023
- Spring 2023: June 9, 2023
*Subject to change at the Dean's discretion
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FAQs about the CSS capstone
What are the grading options for CSS 497?
Faculty can choose to grade by decimal grade or credit/no credit (CR/NC).
When can I begin CSS 497?
Students may begin their internship project after completing the prerequisites (CSS 301, 342, 343, 350, 360, 370, 422, 430, and 10 credits of CSS electives).
What if I am missing a core requirement and want to begin CSS 497?
Contact the CSS Program Office for details.
Can CSS 497 be divided over two quarters?
Yes, it may be divided over two quarters, sometimes more if approved by the CSS faculty advisor.
If I am paid for my internship, will I be able to earn credit for CSS 497?
Yes, students may be paid for an internship, but pay is negotiated between the student and the sponsoring company. Students must also complete academic work outlined in the Capstone contract to earn credit.
May I use my current employer for a CSS 497 project?
It may be possible to use your current employer. The CSS faculty advisor, and the employer must approve of the project. The project cannot be part of everyday duties and must be challenging for an advanced CSS student. For more information about qualifications for the project, check with the CSS faculty advisor.
Is it possible to complete CSS 497 out of the area/state/country?
Yes, talk with the CSS faculty advisor and the CSS Internship Coordinator for more details.
I am an International student; can I be paid for an internship?
Most International students come to the University of Washington on a Student Visa. International students have strict regulations governing their ability to work. Consult with the UWB International Student Advisor and notify CSS Internship Coordinator before accepting employment. Remember that unauthorized employment is a serious violation of student status.
What size of poster do I need for the CSS Colloquium, and where can I find it?
While we don't have a specific size requirement, the most popular size is 36" x 48". Students need to print their poster for the poster presentation. You can use any print shop such as FedEx, Staples, UPS, or any local business. UW Seattle in the Health Sciences Building T271, they can print posters at a reduced cost when using Economy Matte paper. Be sure to give them at least 3 days turnaround time.
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