CIS 497: Senior Capstone Project
University of Pennsylvania

Course Objective

The goal of this course is to provide an opportunity to define, design, and execute a project of your own choosing. Evaluation is based on your ability to select an interesting topic, communicate your objectives in writing and presentations, to accurately gauge what resources are required to complete your chosen task, and your ability to execute your plan.


Norm Badler (badler _at_
  • Office Hours: By Appointment
  • Office Location: Levine 304
Michael Rivera (rimic _at_
  • Office Hours: By Appointment
  • Location: SIG Lab

Course Mechanics

In CIS 497 you are required to submit two revisions of your project description. First, is a paragraph that outlines the general idea you wish to pursue and allows you to register for the course itself. The second is a more complete design document specification. After the second submission you will sign up for a design review meeting. During the 15-20 minute meeting we will review your document, discuss, and tweak your objectives.

There are two major checkpoints to assess your progress: the alpha and beta reviews. At the alpha review, you will present a 5-8 minute overview of your prototype and early results and receive feedback from the committee. The beta review is a 15-20 minute meeting we will review your progress in-depth. We require a blog that tracks your project's progress, both good and bad. You are required to have (at least) one post a week. At the conclusion of spring term, a poster session and short presentation will be held, with prizes awarded to outstanding projects.


Grading for this course is as follows: Detailed allocations are tentatively as follows:

  • Design Document (10%): Each student will complete 4-5 page project specification that provide a detailed plan of implementation of their project.
  • Alpha Review (10%): A prototype that demonstrates measurable progress
  • Blog (30%): Status reports on progress and open ended discussion of approach and posting comments to other blogs.
  • Final Presentation (10%): Overview of the project work to invited guests.
  • Final Report / Code / Demo (40%): The semester long project will culminate into a final report, extensive coding project, and a demo of the code working.

Project Advisors

CIS497 has had the opportunity to have many great project advisors which include Dr. Norman Badler, Dr. Stephen Lane, Dr. Mubbasir Kapadia, Dr. Renata Holod, David Comberg, Dr. Jeffrey Nimeroff, Aline Normoyle, Cory Boatright, Alex Shoulson, and Tiantian Liu. Under this wonderful guidance our course has produced quality research
(selected examples):
- Intelligent Camera Control for Large Populated Virtual Worlds to appear in Motion in Games (Proceedings of MIG 2011)
- Fruit Senescence and Decay Simulation to appear in Computer Graphics Forum (Proceedings of Eurographics 2011)
- Recreating early Islamic glass lamp lighting Proc. International Symposium on Virtual Reality, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (VAST), 2009 (BEST PAPER AWARD)


Congrats to the 2013 DMD seniors for an amazing set of projects!