Orbital is the School of Computing’s 1st year summer self-directed, independent work course.  This programme gives students the opportunity to pick up software development skills on their own, using sources on the web.   All while receiving course credit in the form of 4 modular credits of Unrestricted Electives (UE).  SoC provides the Orbital framework for helping students stay motivated and driven to complete a project of their own design, by structuring peer evaluation, critique and presentation milestones over the summer period.

For external visitors: Check out the “News” and “Facebook” tabs to find out the current events surrounding Orbital (The Facebook page is a superset of the News page; Facebook has all of the news posts plus other non-essentialrelated posts about Orbital).  The remainder of this page is informational for the current 2016 cohort.

Self help for Orbitees

  • To file milestone READMEs, project logs and videos as well as to do reviews of your peer teams’ projects, login to Skylab.  If you have a NUSNET ID, whenever possible, use the OpenID facility to login.
  • To check on deadlines, use the Google Calendar on this page below.  It is embeddable as a separate calendar, so you can import it into your own calendaring software.
  • For past lectures, you can usually check the YouTube playlist as well as either the Liftoff or Mission Control tabs in this website to find the related materials.
  • To communicate with staff, especially your advisor (n.b., not mentor), use the 2016 Orbital Slack team or email your advisor directly.  The contact details of your advisor (and mentor, where applicable) are available in Skylab.
  • For all other matters, use Slack.  For administrative matters, first try to contact your assigned Advisor, and then the facilitators (@Orbital).  We recommend installing the Slack mobile client to keep abreast of announcements.

Structure and Calendar

[Dates here are indicative, but may be revised; please consult the official Orbital calendar embedded below for the most updated information]

Orbital has two events that have mandatory attendance; the rest are optional and can be done wherever Orbitees are.  In fact, we encourage distributed and interdisciplinary teams, although we know this complicates matters for teams.  The two mandatory events are:

  1. Liftoff (9-10 May 2016; Monday-Tuesday right after final exams)
  2. Splashdown (17 Aug 2016; Wednesday, Week 2 of Sem I, AY 2016/17 [tentative])

Orbital is structured as a self-driven programme, but introduces three evaluation milestones (roughly corresponding to ideation, prototyping and refinement) that students must submit on Skylab at the end of each month.  Each milestone has a corresponding peer evaluation in which teams will be critically evaluating other peers’ projects.  The peer evaluation is an integral part of the Orbital process, as it helps students reflect on each others’ work and helps them to push each other to a successful conclusion (you’re not at it alone!).  The quality of a team’s evaluation of other teams factors into the final level of achievement of the team and is evaluated after the final milestone:

  1. Evaluation Milestone 1 (30 May 2016)
    • Peer Evaluation 1 (6 Jun 2016)
  2. Evaluation Milestone 2 (27 Jun 2016)
    • Peer Evaluation 2 (4 Jul 2016)
  3. Evaluation Milestone 3 (25 Jul 2016)
    • Peer Evaluation 3 (1 Aug 2016)
    • Feedback on Peer Evaluations (8 Aug 2016)

Below is the official Orbital calendar.  You can also add the calendar information into your calendar if your calendaring software supports iCal format; just use https://calendar.google.com/calendar/ical/o477t98fkcop21qjrk5giehp98%40group.calendar.google.com/public/basic.ics for the public address of the Orbital calendar.

Levels of Achievement

All Orbital students who complete their summer project to the satisfaction of their peers* receive 4 MC worth of unrestricted electives (UE) at the end of Orbital, for Sem I of the following summer. Orbital is meant to be a voyage of self-learning, so all students who document their improvement in development skills and investment in time totalling at least 130 nominal hours of effort will be awarded the pass.  Students who do not complete Orbital simply do not receive credit for Orbital; there is no possibility of failure (“U”) for most teams*.  We recognise that certain teams put in extra effort in their summer projects, and as such, Orbital internally recognises three different levels of achievement that teams can work towards:

  • Vostok (beginner): We advise a basic web application project that can perform CRUD.  The outline of how to accomplish this is described in the Liftoff workshop (but at a very cursory level).
  • Project Gemini (intermediate): Any web application with suitable extensions, or a project of your own design using other technology stacks (not restricted to web applications, but could include game development, mobile app development, or any project with exposure into programming).  Project teams also must provide at least average quality evaluations of their peers.
  • Apollo 11 (advanced): Any Project Gemini project advanced further to use or demonstrate awareness of basics in software engineering, usability testing and security.  Project teams also must provide useful evaluations of their peers.

Students attempting Project Gemini or Apollo 11 are eligible for mentorship. For more details on Orbital’s levels of achievement system, consult the Level of Achievements page.