Get Involved

Ways for Alumni to be involved with the CSE (SAN) Department

  • Capstone projects
  • Speaking to a class or club function
  • Recruiting students for jobs and internships.
  • Help with yield
  • Participation in CSE Alumni Conference
  • Mentoring (we might need to think this one out some more from a logistics and engagement perspective)
  • Donating equipment or including the department in a planned capital purchase
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Capstone projects:

Our senior students all complete a capstone project in their senior year. This is a two-semester, team projects in which student teams of 3-5 students develop a complex software system to solve a real world problem or opportunity. The projects are supposed to cover all phases of software development: requirements analysis, software design, software construction, and testing. Students are expected to work directly with clients and stakeholders throughout the project. We use an agile process in which students develop the system in increments of increasing complexity with close interaction with clients.

Alumni support of capstone projects:

In recent years, we have found that projects with external clients are more effective than more internal projects. One way that alumni can help us is to facilitate connections between their company and the department by identifying a capstone project. What we suggest is a project that is not in the critical path of the company. This is a student team; the students are taking other classes. Thus, it takes these teams longer than it would if they were working full time. A good project choice is the project that is number eleven on your prioritized list of top ten projects that you want to implement. This is a project to which you would not typically get in your normal business. This can be an excellent added value.

We do ask for a certain level of commitment from the company. First, it is important for the company to follow through for the entire year since the students’ graduation depends on finishing a capstone project. Secondly, we ask for a time commitment. Since we are using an agile process, it is vital that the students have contact with the client on a weekly or at least biweekly basis. As the team develops product increments, they will need to have assessments and feedback about that increment. The third commitment is a sponsorship fee of about $10K. For smaller companies, we have negotiated a lower fee.

Service projects:

Another type of project that is excellent for a capstone is a service project. If an alumnus is in a service organization, we would be glad to have that organization sponsor a capstone project. In that case, we would not ask for a fee or would ask for a much lower level of fee contribution. However, we would still need a commitment from organization to give time to the project so that students can provide a project that meets their needs and requirements.

Speaking to a class or club function:

It is very helpful for alumni to visit classes to talk about their jobs, about technology that they use, trends in technology, or career advice. When an alumnus speaks to a course and a message that he or she delivers is the same that the professor has been giving, this is an effective validation. Students respect experienced alumni. In the event that an alumnus delivers a message that differs from the faculty perspective, this provides an important point for discussion and learning.

Alumni often want to speak to classes to introduce their company and recruit students. Our policy is not to invite alumni to classes for that reason alone. However, when alumni come to class to talk about technical topics, it is easy to tie in an advertisement for their company.

Recruiting students for jobs and internships:

One of students’ chief goals in majoring in computer science or software engineering is to get a well-paying, challenging job that makes a difference in our world. There are several things that alumni can do to help with this. The most direct action is to advertise jobs and internships with the Miami University Career Services Office. In addition to that, the CSE department chair, Eric Bachmann ( routinely sends out job and internship information that he receives from alumni. As described elsewhere, it is possible for alumni to speak in a class or to a student club about a technical topic. In that process, the alumnus can easily talk about their company and job openings. Some alumni set up table in our hallways to speak to students. There are two job fairs each year – one in September and the other in February.

Help with recruiting students and with “yield”:

Recruiting students to Miami and to the CSE Department is a great help. We are always looking for strong students, especially those passionate about learning. If you connect us to high school students with whom you are associated (children, grandchildren, children of friends and colleagues, etc.), we will be glad to recruit them. If you can help facilitate a campus visit, we can take it from there. (The statistics show that the probability of a student apply to Miami University increases dramatically if that student visits campus.)

The term yield refers to the process of converting students who are admitted to students who accept that admission and become students. In the spring of the year, we have asked alumni to write to a few students to discuss their experiences at Miami and their careers since graduation. We believe that these messages are helpful and increasing yield.