Undergraduate Program - Undergraduate Research or Independent Study

Lightning Talks Process Proposal Completion Expectations Final Report

Computer Science majors have the opportunity to engage in independent coursework by completing an undergraduate research project or independent study project mentored by a CSC faculty member. The projects provide students with the opportunity to engage with advanced problem solving and explore computing outside of the standard coursework.

  • First or second year students wishing to participate in undergraduate research should enroll in CSC 299.
  • Students working on an independent study project enroll in CSC 498.
  • Junior or higher students working on undergraduate research enroll in CSC 499.

CSC 299 may count as a maximum of three hours of Other Restricted Elective. Undergraduate students may wish to substitute hours of CSC 498/499 for a Computer Science Restricted Elective or Other Restricted Elective. These substitutions must be approved by the Director of Undergraduate Programs on a case-by-case basis. Substitutions will be evaluated based on a written proposal and mentor-approved written summary of their independent project experience. Students may substitute a maximum of six hours of CSC 498/499 for CSC Restricted Elective and/or Other Restricted Elective. For projects spanning two semesters/offerings of CSC 498/499, the second semester project must be a significant extension of the first semester project for continuing projects.

CSC 299, CSC 498 and CSC 499 are only offered on a credit-only ("S/U") grading basis.

CSC LIGHTNING TALKS

To help connect students with projects, the Department of Computer Science hosts the CSC Undergraduate Research Lightning Talks on the first Friday of the Fall and Spring semesters. Faculty will present a 5-minute overview of a research project they are interested in mentoring an undergraduate student on. Students can then connect with faculty to discuss establishing a mentoring relationship. You can see the current list of projects here. The list is updated before the next semester’s Lightning Talks.

Enrollment Process

Complete the following steps to register for the abovementioned classes.

  1. Establish contact with a Computer Science faculty member and obtain agreement for them to mentor you on a research or independent project of mutual interest. The CSC Lightning Talks and/or this document can help facilitate identifying and connecting with a mentor.
  2. Fill out the CSC Research/Project Enrollment Request Request Form
  3. Once your form is processed, a Google Drive folder will be created for you to submit your proposal document.
  4. Students must also submit a Course Agreement for Non-Standard Courses (please see the form here) with their signature and their faculty mentor’s signature to the Google Drive folder.
  5. Once your proposal is submitted to the Google Drive folder created for you, please email csc-ug-research@lists.ncsu.edu and copy your mentor so you can be enrolled.
    • Your mentor will also need to sign the Non-Standard Course form, a virtual signature is acceptable.
    • The deadlines for proposals will be *the day before* Census Day for each semester.
    • Students who want to use CSC 498/499 as a CSC Games Restricted Elective must receive an additional approval from Dr. David Roberts and should include him in the approval process.
    • Students who want to use CSC 498/499 as a CSC Cybersecurity Restricted Elective must receive an additional approval from Dr. William Enck and should include him in the approval process.
  6. Once your mentor approves, you will be enrolled for three credit hours of credit-only work and the Director of Undergraduate Programs will sign the Non-Standard course form for the Department Head.
  7. If approved, the proposal is then included in the student's file. Except in extraordinary circumstances, permission will not be granted to substitute more than three semester hours of CSC 498/499 on the same project. Any additional hours in a second semester on a project must be a significant extension of the first semester project for continuing projects.

Proposal Components

Your proposal should be in a Google document format, submitted to your assigned Google Drive folder, and must contain the following elements:

  • NAME, TITLE, and MENTOR: List your NAME, the TITLE of the project, and the Computer Science FACULTY member who has agreed to supervise your work.
  • SEMESTER: Indicate the semester in which course will be taken.
  • PROJECT TYPE: Indicate if the project is undergraduate research or independent development.
  • PREREQUISITES: A 498/499 project must depend explicitly on lower-division CSC coursework. List the lower-division (100- to 300-level) COURSES on which your project work will depend. These courses function as virtual "prerequisites", so they should be courses that you will have completed before the project semester.
  • DESCRIPTION: Describe the project that you will complete.
    • CSC 299: Research Project: Include the problem statement, research goal, research questions or hypotheses, and planned methods for addressing or answering the research questions or hypotheses as appropriate for the portion of the project you worked on. Situate the research goal in the relevant literature. Discuss what you learned about the research process.
    • CSC 498: Independent Study Project: The content of the proposal will vary depending on the nature of the project. If the proposal is for a software development project, include the problem statement, requirements, and initial design for the system. Describe how you will evaluate the correctness, performance, reliability, and security of the system you are developing and the done criteria for a minimum viable system and stretch goals. Describe the expected learning outcomes from the experience.
    • CSC 499: Research Project: Include the problem statement, research goal, research questions or hypotheses, and planned methods for addressing or answering the research questions or hypotheses. Situate the research goal in the relevant literature.
  • TIMELINE and MILESTONES: Provide an overview of the project’s progress over the semester. We encourage breaking the timeline down to 2-week cycles. Build in buffer time for something to go wrong (because it will!)
  • DELIVERABLES & GRADING: Identify the deliverables for the project by including the minimum deliverables for satisfactory completion of the project and any additional stretch goals. You are required to have a deliverable of a Final Report. Identify when an incomplete in the course would be appropriate.
Completion Expectations

Students are expected to work on their project throughout the semester. The expectation is a minimum for 45 hours must be completed for each credit hour earned. For 3 credit hours, the expectation would be a total of 135-150 hours on the project during the semester; that is about 9 hours of work per week. We strongly encourage weekly meetings with your faculty mentor or a graduate student representative to keep you on task with your project.

The final deliverable is a Final Report, which must be approved by your faculty mentor and must be submitted at least 72 hours before the grade submission deadline.

  • Submit your Final Report to the same Google Drive folder that was created for you at the beginning of the term.
  • Have your mentor review the report and enter their final grade (S or U) to MyPackPortal.
    • Please work with your mentor to find a due date that works for both of you as they will need to review and submit the grade before grades are due. Please consult the University Calendar for when Grades are due to the University; submission of the approved final report is required at least 72 hours before the grade submissions deadline for the given semester.
  • Once a grade of S is assigned in MyPack, you should complete the degree audit course shift form (with a link to your report) so we may move your now completed course to the appropriate slot in your degree audit.
Final Report Requirement

Students will submit a summary of their project experience to their faculty mentor as part of the completion of the course. The faculty mentor-approved final report should be saved to the student's individual Google Drive folder as created when enrolled to signal completion of the project experience. The report may be submitted in PDF format.

The contents of the final report will vary by the type of project, research or independent development project.

CSC 299: Research Final Report

The research final report will include the following elements and should be formatted using a template appropriate for the subdiscipline (e.g., ACM or IEEE templates).

Identification Elements
  1. Project Title
  2. Student Name & Student ID #
  3. Mentor Name
  4. Semester
Research Elements

Only include the research elements that were appropriate for your project.

  1. Abstract of the research project that includes the problem statement, research goals/questions/hypotheses, statement of methodology, and summary of results/conclusions/contributions as appropriate for the work.
  2. Problem Statement
  3. Short Literature Summary
  4. Methodology/Process
  5. Results/Contribution
  6. Citations
Reflection Elements
  1. Reflect on the experience, what you learned about the research process, how the project evolved, and any significant scope change from the proposed project (you should describe why the scope changed and what you learned from it).
CSC 498: Independent Study Final Report

The independent study final report will include the following elements:

Identification Elements
  1. Project Title
  2. Student Name & Student ID #
  3. Mentor Name
  4. Semester
Development Elements [for software development focused independent studies]
  1. Problem Statement
  2. Requirements
  3. High-level design
  4. Low-level design
  5. Implementation details including development environment and project structure overview
  6. Unit and System testing
  7. Installation and setup guidelines
Study Elements [for all independent studies other than software development]
  1. Overview
  2. Discussion of topics studied and tasks completed
  3. Findings/results/contributions
  4. Limitations/Challenges and how you overcame them
Reflection Elements
  • Reflect on the experience, how the project evolved, and any significant scope change from the proposed project (you should describe why the scope changed and what you learned from it).
CSC 499: Research Final Report

The research final report will include the following elements and should be formatted using a template appropriate for the subdiscipline (e.g., ACM or IEEE templates).

Identification Elements
  1. Project Title
  2. Student Name & Student ID #
  3. Mentor Name
  4. Semester
Research Elements
  1. Abstract of the research project that includes the problem statement, research goals/questions/hypotheses, statement of methodology, and summary of results/conclusions/contributions.
  2. Problem Statement
  3. Short Literature Summary
  4. Methodology/Process
  5. Results/Contribution
  6. Citations

Reflection Elements

  1. Reflect on the experience, how the project evolved, and any significant scope change from the proposed project (you should describe why the scope changed and what you learned from it).
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