In Professor Xin Liu’s Capstone course at UC Davis, collaboration is the key word. Structured as a set of design challenges, the course allows her students to work in teams: problem-solving, communicating with clients to understand their needs, and developing the design, specification, testing, and delivery plan for the projects. Each team took their Google Cloud application in an entirely different creative direction.
Liu has been teaching at the university for 14 years, and has taught Senior Design for the past four years. “Teaching this course is rewarding because I see the progress of our students,” she says. “It allows them to use the knowledge they have obtained in their previous studies to build a real system for a real client. And it challenges them to solve problems on their own.”
In spring 2018, the self-formed teams, with four students each, enjoyed guidance and feedback from teaching assistants. They had additional help from the Google software engineer, Travis Heppe, who served as both a volunteer mentor and a client at his alma mater, where he graduated in 1995. And each team utilized a Google Cloud Education Grant for their project.
“This was my first involvement,” Heppe says. “It started in January with about 20 hours required to set it up, then about two hours per week from January to June. It's meaningful to me because I get to see their skills develop very quickly.” He plans to volunteer again next year. “Travis was incredibly helpful in this process,” says Liu. “I’m very grateful.”