CS 4243-4: Senior Design


Teams and writing

  • The sequence of three writing assignments will together combine to create a complete proposal that showcases your project idea. You will write this complete proposal in three pieces, each of which will constitute Writing-1, Writing-2, and Writing-3.
  • When you receive feedback on Writing-1, you must respond to the feedback by revising your Writing-1 submission and including your revised writing in Writing-2. Similarly, include your revised Writing-2 into the Writing-3 document.
  • The first writing submission is an individual submission even though the content is based on your team's project. This is OK because the real goal of the writing assignments is for you, as an individual, to practice writing.
  • Others are team writing assignments but every member of the team must submitted the commonly created document (because the first part is what you wrote as an individual).
  • For team submissions, all members of the team must contribute and, in the right margin, indicate who wrote which paragraph or section.
  • All your writing must generally be in the plural first person ("Our project develops a ...") as opposed to singular first person ("My project ...").
  • You should avoid the passive voice. Thus, instead of "the password is then entered by the user", write "the user then enters the password".
  • Above all, your writing should strive for clarity and flow. Use good transition words or phrases to promote flow.
  • Your writing will be graded by an experienced writing TA from the English Department, someone who will be on alert for writing that's merely "going through the motions". Please take pains to write well, reviewing your own writing several times before the deadline.

Read Strunk & White's Style Manual

(Fall) Nearly a century ago, William Strunk, a professor of English, crafted a slim volume of writing rules that with the help of E.B.White became the classic now called The Elements of Style. (A more recent version is available.)

Every college student should read this book at least once. We will expect you to make sure your prose follows the book's rules on writing style.

Writing assignment 1: project summary (individual)

(Fall) Length and Format: 1 page, 11pt font, single spaced

For this assignment you will write a short proposal for your senior design project. That is, pretend that you are seeking funding for your project from an investor or a philantropic foundation and write a compelling one page proposal.

You should convince the (non-technical) reader that your project solves an important problem, overcomes difficult technical challenges, and will have an audience or social purpose. The reader should feel that you understand the problem area and have some interesting ideas for solving the problem.

Use this rubric to guide your writing.


  • Since this is an individual submission, include your name in the file name.
  • Write your document by creating one in the folder itself.

Writing assignment 2: impact (team)

(Fall) Length and Format: 3-4 pages, 11pt font, single spaced

For this assignment you will continue fleshing out your proposal to add two sections on the commercial or social-impact opportunities related to your project and the impact it will have on society. Start by copying the previous writing submission into the current assignment, and revising it to address the comments you received. Then, write 3-4 additional pages with sections labeled as follows:

  • Comparison with similar projects. What's already out there that's similar to your project, how is your project different, and how will that matter in having impact?
  • Target audience. Who exactly will use your project, and why? How will they afford your product, and why is it feasible for them to use your project? If your project is aimed at generating revenue, what is the business model (how will you charge, and why is that going to be profitable)? If your project is a social-impact project aimed at foundations, explain how you will generate awareness in the target audience and persuade them to use your project.
  • Societal and global impact. What is the broader societal need you are trying to address? If used widely, how would it impact society? Will it need regulation? Can it be put to bad use? What are the global issues or international-use issues related to your project?
This part will also be written for a non-technical reader.


  • Since this is a team submission, create a document in the shared google-doc team folder.

Writing Assignment 3: technical overview (team)

(Fall) Length and Format: 3-4 pages, 11pt font, single spaced

Now that you've explained why your project is valuable and how it will be used, you need to convince that it's technically feasible and innovative.

Start by copying over your most recent version of Writing-1 and Writing-2 into the Writing-3 document. Then, you will add 3-4 pages with the following sections:

  • Technical innovation. Describe the technologies that will go into your project. What exactly is technically novel about the project? How does this compare to what already exists out there?
  • Technical feasibility. What existing tools and technologies can you use to build your project? How can you be confident that it's do-able?
  • Cost, risks, and risk mitigation. What is the development cost in terms of hardware and software? How many lines of code do you estimate (and why)? What are the project milestones and a timeline for achieving these milestones?
Some parts of Writing-3 will necessarily get technical. However, write these sections for a technical manager, someone who is technical savvy but does not want to see unnecessary detail.


  • Since this is a team submission, create a document in the shared google-doc team folder.