Service Learning Practicum: Vision

How best can a computer scientist contribute to the community? This is the question that drives the existence of the Service Learning Practicum (SLP) in the Computer Science Department at the University of Virginia. The purpose of the SLP is two-fold:

  1. To give students experience with the development of large software projects. This is something that is taught in many courses, but due to the nature of collegiate classes (and the necessity for grades!), few courses allow for the development of large projects in large groups. In the SLP, students work in groups of 6 along with a mentor. The students develop a project in the same manner as a professional development company. All the skills, knowledge, and concepts that they learned in their various classes can be put to use, while learning aspects of teamwork, customer interaction, and management skills.

  2. Developing a project with no purpose is not only boring for all involved, but also a waste of everybody's time. This begets the second purpose of the SLP: to write quality software for nonprofits in our community. This allows the students to interact with a real customer, developing real software with a real purpose. Furthermore, the software will have a real and positive impact on our community.

The SLP has run continuously since the spring of 2012; information on the previous projects can be found here. For the current 2015-2016 academic year, there are 66 students working on 9 different projects. As of the end of the spring 2015 semester, there have been 30 deployed projects; this does not count the 9 projects from 2015-2016 that are currently in development.


Get involved!

Are you interested in becoming involved with the service learning practicum? There are a number of different roles, depending on who you are.

Students would enroll in CS 4970 (Capstone Practicum I) in the fall, and CS 4971 (Capstone Practicum II) in the spring. Note that, because they are year-long projects, CS 4970 is a STRICT pre-requisite for CS 4971. As this is now one of the two ways to complete the new BS CS capstone requirement (see here for more details on the capstone requirement), all rising 4th year BS CS majors will be allowed to enroll. All others (BS CS majors below their 4th year, as well as BA CS and BS CpE majors) will be allowed in by instructor permission if there is enough room and enough projects. For more information, see the SLP: students page.

Nonprofits are who we develop the software for. If you are a nonprofit in the local area, and have a need for some quality software, please see the SLP: nonprofits page.


Current projects

In the current 2015-2016 academic year, there are 66 students working on 9 projects. Detailed descriptions of the projects can be found here.


Press Coverage