Computer Science and Software Engineering Faculty Projects

Using mobile game development to improve student learning and satisfaction in introductory computer Science courses

Computer Science Expo 300px

Professor Delvin Defoe

An overarching goal of this project is to improve student success and satisfaction, and, as a result, decrease student attrition in introductory Computer Science (CS) courses at high school, college, and university levels. This project will produce a comprehensive set of learning modules consisting of laboratory projects and accompanying instructional materials for introductory CS courses taught using Java. This approach uses mobile game development early in the CS curriculum as a motivational learning context. Each learning module serves as a platform to introduce students to one of advanced topics in CS, such as artificial intelligence, computer security, databases, networking, and others. By demonstrating these and other non-programming and diverse aspects of the discipline to the students, this approach may help dissolve a widely popular misconception that "CS is all about coding." Research literature and our own experience demonstrate that most CS students seem to be very interested in computer game development, and introducing students to this topic early in the curriculum could serve as a good tool to increase student retention. More broadly, current research literature indicates that students perform better when they find their course material relevant and motivating. This project promotes teaching and learning, help improve student experience in the critical introductory CS courses when student attrition is at its highest, and ultimately will help train outstanding computer scientists. Based on the experiences of both students and instructors, formative and summative evaluation will help direct the project development and measure the degree of the project success.

This project is a collaboration between Dr. Stan Kurkovsky (Central Connecticut State University) and Dr. Delvin Defoe (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology), and is supported by NSF awards DUE-0941348 and DUE-0941658. Emily Graetz is currently working with Dr Defoe on developing educational modules for this project.

Agile methodologies

Professor Sriram Mohan

In-depth study and comparison of modern Agile software development methodologies and practices. Includes "plain" Agile, Scrum, Extreme Programming, Kanban, and feature-driven development. Emphasis on contrast between individual Agile concepts and their applicability to software projects, especially in academic settings.

Students will assume roles and develop one of five similar projects for each Agile process. Progress and review meetings occur twice weekly; end of each Agile process (and corresponding project) includes a substantial presentation. Students will also prepare a final review of benefits and risks in each Agile process, as well as recommend changes to processes used for future improvement.

Recycling Robot

Professor Michael Wollowski

To support the CSSE soda machine, we are looking to develop a recycling robot. This robot would be summoned to CSSE labs and offices to pick up empty soda cans and deliver them to a recycling bin. A senior project team built a robot for this purpose, however, the sensors used at the time were not sufficiently precise, as such the robot was never put into service. We have since purchased a camera. The goals of this project would be to (1) resuscitate the robot, (2) mate the camera to it, and (3) develop software that through rudimentary image processing enables the robot to sense its location in the CSSE department. Based on this set-up, a rudimentary path finding algorithm should be developed. We are looking for a small team of students who have expertise in software development, expertise in vision processing (or the willingness to learn about existing packages) and who can wield a soldering gun with confidence.

A Robotics Hotline - Service-Learning of Robotics and Teamwork

Professor David Mutchler

We propose a pilot implementation and study of a "Robotics Hotline" whose goal is to inspire middle and high school students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).  This Robotics Hotline program will follow the lead of Rose-Hulman's highly successful Homework Hotline program.  In the latter program, Rose-Hulman students acting as tutors have had over 280,000 conversations with middle and high school students, answering those students' questions about mathematics and science.

The students in this IPROP project will design, develop and implement the above pilot implementation and study.

Software challenges in autonomous vehicle navigation

Professor David Mutchler (CSSE)
Professor JP Mellor (CSSE)
Professor Carlotta Berry (ECE)
Professor David Fisher (ME)


In this project, students will design and develop software to solve challenges in navigation faced by autonomous vehicles (robots).  The problems are real problems faced by real robots in a real competition.

The software to be developed is for challenges faced by a particular pair of robots that will be entered in the 2012 Intelligent Ground Vehicles Competition (IGVC), although the software will be designed to apply to other robots as well.  In that competition, robots navigate a football-sized field laced with obstacles, as suggested by the diagram above.  The robot arrives at the competition knowing the general nature of the course but not its specifics.


The particular robots of interest are:

  • Husky A200: a commercial robot whose chassis (wheels, motors, body, power, etc) is complete.  Students in this project will choose and attach sensors (with help from the Rose-Hulman Robotics Team) and write software for it.
  • Moxom's Master:  the Robotics Team's current robot (they are beginning the design of a 2nd-generation robot).

Students in this project will receive credit for CSSE 290, Software Challenges in Autonomous Vehicle Navigation.  They will attend the IGVC 2012 competition where their software will be used in the above robots.  Results of their research will be reported at that competition, at one or more conferences in Robotics, and at one or more conferences in Engineering Education.

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