Final Draft Syllabus as of 1/17/2004 8:42 PM

Syst 371 - 001 -- Spring 2004

Subject to revision to correct errors and omissions and/or in the interest of fairness. GMU policies and procedures take precedence should there be a discrepancy between any of them and this syllabus.



William Adams, PE, PhD

DO NOT SEND ANY ATTACHMENTS to any of my email addresses

Homework is not accepted by email

Other contact information will be given in class.

Office: TBD - best to see me before or after class


Teaching Assistant



Contact me for any course administration questions.

Contact the TA first for all other questions.



Tues Thurs

Time: 13h30 - 14h45J **

Bldg.- Room -- R - A106

(but see schedule of classes for recess, reading day, holiday closings, one time exceptions, snow cancellations, reschedulings and final exam. )

Check the GMU phone number for late breaking snow cancellation information.


( Planned Detailed Schedule: Lecture and assignments.

Some generic assignment dates will be instantiated in class eg which specific date(s) you/your team is assigned.


The schedule shows the planned sequence and date. Weather delays and guest lectures may cause changes. If we are able to move faster, items may be done sooner and additional topics or review be done at the end of the semester.


Schedule Strategy

To follow the schedule below as closely as appropriate.

The textbook will be covered in sequence. Additional topics will be discussed where they most closely relate to the text sequence.



Students must ensure that their GMU email is active and working in order to receive announcements and other information broadcasts for this course.


Information may also be given in class.


Course Description

This course will extend and use the systems engineering and related skills normally developed through previous classes and as would be used in a business teamwork environment. Soft skills as well as technical ones will be exercised.


The full range of SE management process areas and artifacts will be covered and practiced through a team project.



Students will have learned and practiced the skills needed for their capstone course and as would be used in their first job after graduation.


Students will provide status reports and accounting information similar to that required in industry.


Key items covered include:

        Planning including WBS and GANTT, TOC, etc

        Supporting areas including requirements, QFD, Processes and standards including CMMI, ISO 9000, Six Sigma, Acquisition and Contracts, are presented briefly to provide context

        Teamwork including IPPD, IPTs, IC, Myers-Briggs, team processes, decisions, conflict resolution, etc.

        Resource allocation, load balancing

        Monitor and control including metrics, EVMS, status reports, accounting, etc

        Close out

        Team project applying the course material including status reports and resource usage accounting


Textbook and Reference Materials

Text: Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton

Project Management in Practice


Other Assistance


For help with research, Kelly Jordan, Information Technology and Engineering Librarian, is a useful resource. Stop by the Fenwick library or email her at



For help with writing, the GMU writing center may be useful. There are many web sites that provide writing and grammar assistance. Many universities have on line writing centers (OWL = online writing lab) for assistance. The GMU center is at


Others are listed at


Group Writing - Recommended!


Peer Review Writing Process



Whilst grammar and style are important, quality content is the first priority. Do not get sidetracked with mechanics before the content has been instantiated. But allow time to create a quality document.


Course Requirements

See Project details below.


A project will be handed out in class to be done by a team.

All students will be assigned to a team.


For the project - for your own use so as to work effectively:

Students will tailor and use a process to be followed. Metrics will be captured and progress tracked versus the schedule based on the process' steps. Students will tailor a DID to guide the documenting of their report.


Interim status presentations will be made periodically as if to a corporate director.


A final presentation will be presented as well as a final hard and soft copy of the report being turned in. This would be comparable to one given to a corporate VP or at a technical conference.


Students will turn in details of the resources used (eg hours spent by task) along with their personal status using the form provided.


There will be a mid term and a final exam.

Additional individual problems will be assigned and collected.


All students are required to grade and critique their teammates performance. All students will critique all presentations.


A lessons learned after action (AALL ) report is required of all students to address what worked and what can be improved with the course.


There may be random unannounced quizzes. The probability of which is inversely proportional to class attendance. I.E. the more people missing the more likely a quiz will be given.


Homework will be collected each due date and one problem graded at random.


Grading Criteria

Grades will be per GMU policy.


Students will be required to turn in a self assessment as well as one for their team. Students will assess the other presentations.


Grades will be based on the following items - with the noted relative weighting factors.


        Final exam & AALL report - 25%

        Mid Term - 15 - NB the midterm score can be increased some by a better score on the final

        Team Project - 25 Written/content & 15 Oral Presentation/slides

        Individual team based grades may be adjusted up or down based on teammates recommendation andor instructor's observations

        Individual Status reports and Quizzes - 10

        Class participation Daily assignments Personal Log - 10

        Bonus points may be awarded for

exceptionally outstanding work

previously approved additional work


Some parts of exams may be take home, other parts done in class.


Late work

Late work is NOT accepted .

If you are late to class, your work is late too.

All assignments are due at the beginning of class and must be handed in.

No E-Mail submissions will be accepted.


Possible Exceptions

If you anticipate any religious holidays, employer mandated travel, health appointments, or critical personal issues (tax audits, court appearances, funerals, weddings, etc.), that will require you to miss class or be late with work please notify the instructor as early as possible. And coordinate with your team so they are not impacted too. Confirming documentation is required.



A+ 98-100+

A 93-97

A- 90-92

B+ 87-89

B 83-86

B- 80-82

C+ 77-79

C 73-76

C- 70-72



Grades are computed by Excel based on the scores earned for the items listed above.


Honor Code

Attention should be paid to the honor code provisions.


Exams are to be done individually.


All other work is open book, open notes, as would occur in an industrial environment. For academic purposes though, acknowledgement must be made of sources used including help from classmates.


Except for exams, all work is to be done collaboratively with their team, and/or the class. Teams may help each other but acknowledgement is to be given to such help.


Proper credit is to be given to any other information sources used by citing them in the TR.


Style and usage

Use the GPO or Chicago style manuals for citation format.

Use the Columbia guide for web based content citations.

Harbrace College Handbook or Hacker are good guides for grammar usage.

The Chicago Manual of Style 13E (or later)


U of Chicago 1982


Style Manual rev.



GPO 1973 (or later)


Rules for Writer 3E (or later)

Diana Hacker


St Martin's Press 1991


The Columbia Guide to Online Style by Janice R. Walker and Todd Taylor (Columbia UP, 1998)


Class Policies and Approach

All applicable laws and GMU policies are hereby included by reference.

Students are responsible for knowing the school policies as documented in the Catalog.


Smoking is not allowed in the classroom.


All notes should be annotated with a timestamp and the source. Acknowledgement of all sources is expected if material from a textbook, website, inter-team collaboration, or class discussions is used.


Students are expected to

        attend all sessions on time.

        be prepared

        participate actively

        be alert, having had adequate sleep and rest

        manage their time effectively

   plan their work and budget their time

   keep a log of all resources expended

   do not get behind

        coordinate and work with their team effectively and collegially

        first attempt to do all the work by themselves

   ask for help when necessary


You may synchronise your watches by telephone at 202 762 1401.


Teamwork is an integral factor of this course. All students are expected to work in a collaborative and cooperative manner both on their project team and in the class as a whole. Planning and coordination are expected to minimise duplication of efforts.


Communication is vital to success and will be emphasised through in‑class briefings concerning the team projects and written status reports.



Any student needing accommodation for a handicap will be given whatever course modifications they need as determined appropriate by the DRC staff. The DRC form is required.



Specific assignments will be given in class.

The main product is a Project Plan for SEF (your team project result)

A final oral presentation will also be given.

Interim status reports and drafts will be due.

Exams may include a home component as well as consist of providing ancillary artifacts that facilitate the planning and writing of the team's report.


Each student is to log all resources used by category for the entire course.

This will be used to create the metrics turned in as part of the take home "final exam".


The individual reports are due each Tuesday. A combined team report is due each Thursday.


Frequent status reports will be presented by teams and or turned in for evaluation. Any student may be called on at random at any time to give this report. Each student is required to be aware of the entire team's status at all times.


Additional items will be assigned in class.



Please provide hardcopy of all assignments. Softcopy is also required for the final report and presentation. MS Project files need to be in MSP-98 format not 2000 or XP. Other files should be readable by Office-97 versions of word, excel, access, powerpoint, etc.


Please use a font that is 12-14 points, with 2-3 points of leading for text.

Do not justify.


Use 1.5" left margin and all other margins set at 1".

If headers/footers are used and/or page numbers, then they should be spaced 1/2" from the text body.


Do not use Garamond or (new) times roman or similar fonts with small x‑height or tight tracking.


Please use American Typewriter aka Editor, or Dark Courier. Other large x-height fonts with uniform stroke weight may be used; but, please confirm readability with the professor first. Georgia, Trebuchet, Antiqua are other MS fonts that may be used.


Fonts can be provided to those who do not have them and are unable to download them from Microsoft, HP, or public domain sites.


Spreadsheets and similar items should use Arial Narrow 8-10 point.





** J = local time. We change from EST to DST in April.





Return to course requirements

Project Description - Detailed course Requirements


Syst 371 - Project - Spring 2004


Due by 1330 15 April 2004


Individual Status reports due weekly on Tuesday

Team Status reports due weekly on Thursday.


Major team Status presentations due as per lecture schedule.

Others may be done randomly.




The class and project will simulate a real work environment to the extent possible.


The Highly-Powered Consulting Co. (HPCC) is a small company that needs to produce a project plan for a client (SEF) who is aptly named Small Engineering Firm, which is as common in this area, known by a three letter acronym: SEF. They are excellent engineers but need help with the project planning for a proposal they are writing . They have turned to HPCC as experts in project management.


They plan to build, market, and in the short term bid on procurements for a voting system. There are many competitors and many voting machines are in use. Many of these have significant problems. Even the newer computer based ones.

To be competitive they have to be ready to bid on a major contract opportunity that is coming up real soon now. If they can win this they will be in a good position to market their system to other governmental entities. To win, they need to have an affordable yet high quality product ready to demonstrate by the date their bid is due.


As your first assignment, in this temporary position, you have been tasked with providing a project plan for the client. It will of course be reviewed by senior management before submission.


Of course, as a new employee, you are eager and enthusiastic about this assignment as it will solidify your project skills. As additional motivation, you know that by saving your work product and concomitant artifacts in your personal PAL, you can recycle this plan in the future and reuse the data and checklists. Knowing that the time you invest now, will be paid back in the future many times over you are eager to do an excellent and thorough job.


The SEF is hoping to develop a voting system because so many of the current ones have significant problems both manifest and potential. This system must of course meet all laws and regulations but also address any devices used as well as processes, procedures, and security etc.


You do not need to design the system, only to provide a complete plan so it can be delivered by SEF by the deadline noted. A WBS and associated Gantt chart with tasks and time durations is required. As appropriate, include estimates of resources needed for budgeting, risks anticipated and conditional recovery plan, assumptions, problem description including the objective, terminology, and any necessary reference material, etc.


Your manager knows that you are doing your first plan, so has teamed you with some other new employees. The manager also says that he will get back to you with more details later. His assistant tells you that means this Thursday at 1330J.


[Talking to some of the old timers you discover that means he will set up regular meetings to discuss your efforts {see lecture schedule}, but sometimes has to cancel due to more pressing obligations. For now he wants you to think about this task and do some preliminary planning. He will be available during regular status meetings to answer any questions you may have and help suggest solutions to problems.] [You need to meet with your team immediately and decide how you will communicate, how you will make decisions, how often you will meet, how meetings will be run, how the work will be split up, etc.]


[In the lunchroom you overhear comments that indicate that he is easy to deal with, will act as a mentor, and will not let you fail. He also is absent minded and tends to lose things so you should document all conversations and provide hardcopy as a reminder (as well as keeping a copy for yourself). He also has bad eyesight and insists that special fonts be used so that he can avoid eyestrain.]


You have also been told by his assistant that status reports are due every Thursday at 13:30. He wants to know what progress has been made, problems encountered, approach being used to prevail, and a summary of resources used. [He has budget responsibility and needs this data to do his job. Also, the data is fed into the PAL (Process Asset Library) to guide future estimations and planning.]


[He has a form that HPCC required you to fill out for status reports that is also used for the timekeeping and payroll systems. If he forgets to give it to you ask for it.]


The schedule for starting the voting system development is not later than September 2004. There is an absolute deadline of May 2005 for the prototype to be shown to the procuring officials. [Any similarity to a senior project is purely intentional.] Your team project plan for this SEF project is due 15 April 2004 to allow time for HPCC management review, SEF budget approvals, staff planning, and other preparations before they submit their bid. The plan should include a major review at about the halfway point [end of 2004] so that corrective action may be taken by SEF to improve the product and or insure the schedule is met.


The deadline for your final 371 team project result (The SEF plan) has been set at 15 April 2004 { for your system 371 project}. {Consequently failure to meet your 15 April deadline will negatively impact the grade given.}


[Pulling an all nighter or making slides the day of the presentation will be an indicator that you did not fully grok the 371 course material which should have helped you do your project in an orderly manner. PLAN AHEAD! DO NOT PROCRASTINATE. Plan your work and work your plan.]


Any delay in having an approved plan will seriously impact HPCC by preventing the customer, SEF, in doing their project instantiation and concomitant business plans. Consequently, all problems need to be noted and overcome promptly. Your mentor will help guide you but you must make an attempt and provide some alternatives or suggestions for him to consider.

Start thinking about what needs to be done by you to write this plan for the client, and how you will do it. How will your team meet and coordinate? How will it make decisions? How will you stick to your time budget without allowing delays? What is a project plan? What should be in this plan? What other information is needed? Where can you obtain it? What is your Myers-Briggs type? What are your teammates types? How will this affect how you interact with each other? What is your objective? What are your initial thoughts on the tasks that your team has to do? What effort do you estimate that this will take? Give as much thought to this new assignment as is appropriate and be ready to discuss it with your manager on Thursday.


Return to course requirements