Final year projects in partnership with industry

"Supervising final year projects done in partnership with industry" Dr Richard Craggs, Department of Computer Science

Presented at the 3rd Annual Learning and Teaching Conference on Tuesday 30 June 2015.

Recording (13 minutes)


Many students complete significant projects towards the end of their degrees.  In some subjects students have an option of completing this project in partnership with a commercial company, working on one of their problems, rather than a topic proposed by an academic.  Such projects are likely to be more similar to the work expected once they graduate and working on them can provide experience and contacts that will benefit them relative to other students.

Industrial projects also present challenges.  Students have less control over the scope of the project and so can’t easily respond to suggestions from supervisors to include aspects that directly impress academic markers.  Depending on the nature of the company and project, it can be difficult for academics to appreciate and judge the level of technical achievement or the significance of the contribution of others.  From the other side, employers commonly don’t understand the need for students to spend time on more academic outputs such as reports or supervision meetings.  Clear, business-like communication between all parties is important.

I have supervised these sorts of projects as both an employer and also an academic.  I will explain why employers often require students to focus on aspects like process and quality that don’t yield flashy deliverables but are exactly what students need to learn from a project.

We will also talk about whether we can encourage companies to provide us with more of these projects to widen the opportunities for our students.

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