September 30th, 2022

The Senior Design Course

1. What is the goal of this capstone course and project?

The objectives are to give students experience in applying the Management Science methods that they have been studying and working as a team to complete a consulting project for an actual client. It is a preview of life after graduation in a common work format that involves clients, teamwork, uncertainty, deadlines, and deliverables.


2. What constitutes an appropriate project topic?

A senior design project involves the application of quantitative analytical methods (that is, has a mathematical or statistical dimension) for optimization, prediction, or decisionmaking. The topic can be accomplished in three months and is typically not missioncritical to the client.

3. What might not be an appropriate topic?

Topics that do not involve analytics do not qualify, such as  straight computer programming, clerical work, building a database, or designing a web site. However, projects often involve data collection or creating a data set to test a model that was programmed by the team to address the clients problem.

4. What is the timing and duration for a senior project?

Senior projects can begin in January and must be completed by the first week of May.

5. How is the project scope determined?

The faculty advisor works with the client and students to set the proper scope. Overly ambitious projects will need to be reduced in scope by focusing on a smaller population, region, or aspect of the full problem. Simple problems are expanded to merit credit for a capstone course. The size of the team will affect what are reasonable expectations and reasonable goals.

Student Teams

6. What is the cost of having a student team work on my project?

The work is done pro bono as a service to the community, but some clients have chosen to make a taxdeductible donation in appreciation for the work performed.

7. How many students are on a team and how many teams are there?

Typically there are three senior students on a team. Occasionally there can be two or four, depending on the problem complexity and student availability.

8. What kind of students are typically on a team?

These men and women have nearly completed a bachelor’s in Management Science, with courses in operations research, probability/statistics, production /operations management, computer science, mathematics, economics, management, entrepreneurship, and engineering communications. Their career paths are diverse and include consulting, defense, manufacturing, logistics, entertainment, finance, and telecommunications. Postgraduation job titles include analyst (many types), systems engineer, and manager. Many go on to complete a masters in Operations Research, Systems Engineering, Information Engineering, or Engineering Management.

9. How many hours does the team work on a project in a typical week?

Although it varies over the project term, teams average at least ten hours per week, but some spend much more time during critical junctures.

Faculty Advisors

10. What is the role of the faculty advisor?

The faculty advisor works with both clients and students to (1) identify appropriate projects, (2) develop a reasonable project scope, (3) identify an appropriate solution approach and resources needed to complete the work, and (4) provide project oversight and technical expertise throughout.

11. Who is the faculty advisor?

The current faculty advisors are listed here.  Both are fulltime EMIS faculty that have significant industry experience in the application of analytics.

12. Who should I contact about a potential senior project?

You can contact either instructor to discuss a project.

Client Responsibilities

13. What are my responsibilities as a project client?

During the Project Selection phase, the client will work with their staff, the course advisor, and students to identify and scope an appropriate project; this may be done prior to or during the clienthosted kickoff meeting with all involved parties. A primary Point of Contact (PoC) should be designated. During the Design and Analysis and Execution phases, the PoC will need to provide the team with data, expertise, and guidance on requirements and relevant process specifics and have time to meet on a regular basis. Upon project completion, the client will provide the team and advisor a brief evaluation of the resulting work product.

14. The project might involve the use of sensitive data or systems. How might this be handled?

If the data is sensitive, a solution can be developed and tested on masked/redacted, hypothetical, old nonsensitive, or publicly available data sets. The client can later apply the solution system to operating data. If the project involves a proprietary or sensitive process, we can mask the organizations name, not publish the results, and, if necessary, sign a non– disclosure agreement in which clients must approve any releases of information. Students will need to be able to present their results to the rest of the class.

Example Results

15. Can I see some example outputs from a project team?

Yes. This Senior Design Archive site (lyle.smu.edu/emis/design) contains a sample of previous projects, including some with final reports and presentations.


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