Orbital is the School of Computing’s self-driven programming summer experience.  It is designed to give first-year students the opportunity to 1) self-learn and 2) build something useful.  Officially, it is a 4 modular credit (MC) module – CP2106: Independent Software Development Project – that is taken over the summer and graded on a Completed Satisfactorily/Completed Unsatisfactorily (CS/CU) basis.

Unlike the School’s traditional modules which emphasize academic learning, this module leverages the growing opportunity that computing students at all levels have in building useful applications.  This skill does not normally come by formal training, but rather requires time, experience, trial-and-error to hone.  Information foraging for technical details on the Web can be difficult, but we feel that through a combination of self- and peer-help, students will be able to put together useful systems and generate confidence in being able to go beyond the basics, and seek solutions on their own.  In fact, computing is the only discipline whose output can scale dramatically; a single person’s work can affect millions of lives, everyday.

Our School does not teach programming prowess as formal coursework, as it is not academic in nature.  Orbital is one mode where young energetic students can fill this gap by their own initiative.  Read more about the Orbital programme’s structure in pages tagged with ‘orbital‘.


On Monday and Tuesday (8 and 9 May), we had our (full-house) opening event: Liftoff. More than 350 students took part in the event to learn about software development and the required technologies for their project, as well as to meet their advisors and formulate their project ideas. Towards the end, we had around 180 teams presenting their project ideas at the Ignition sessions.

Liftoff webpage @ the Orbital Website:

Slides from the Ignition sessions:

In addition, on Saturday (13 May), we had our first (and again, full-house) Mission Control workshop on MeteroJS. In this workshop, our tutors, Nick and Tyson, taught the students about how to get started in MeteorJS, write JavaScript, and use mongoDB database operations to create a simple feedback web app.

Mission Control Webpage @ the Orbital Website: https://orbital.comp.nus.edu.sg/?page_id=1835

(Slides and Videos to be uploaded soon!)

STS-133_Discovery_Lift_Off_Launch_Pad_39A_KSCHope your exams have gone well!   It’s time to start to look forward to Liftoff, the mandatory 2 day workshop on 8 and 9 May.  Join your 350+ other Orbitees on our unified summer quest to learn something new and interesting for yourselves.

The venue for our workshop will be at I3, down past SoC and Biz.  We’ll be in primarily in the I3 Auditorium although an alternate track will be held in the NUS Enterprise’s fully loaded Hangar, and some other activities in the STMI Executive Training Room.

If you’re not sure how to get there, please check out the following maps, or better yet, give a shout out on Slack.

  • Map for I3 (The building is marked as SoC @ I Cube on the map.)
  • Floor plan for I3 level 1 (The Auditorium is on the left side of the map, while the Hangar is the unmarked white space on the right side.)
  • Floor plan for I3 level 3 (The STMI Training Room is on the left side on the map, #03-44.)

The schedule has been updated on the Orbital calendar (available on the website and through Google’s public calendar service), so check it out.  We’ll post some more details about it soon, as well as some of the prerequisite things you may / will need to do before attending on Monday.

If you can’t make it to Liftoff, please let your evaluation group leader know if you are part of a team (use Slack!); if you are a singleton a.k.a. “partner challenged”, just let Jin know by email <zhaojin@comp.nus.edu.sg> or Slack <@zhaojin>.  Groups must have at least one member present to do the duties during the workshop (yes, you have to do some work!).  Exceptions to these two conditions will be approved on a case-by-case basis.

Officially, Orbital is now called “CP2106: Independent Software Development Project”, which is a 4 modular credit (MC) project module taken over the summer and graded on a Completed Satisfactorily/Completed Unsatisfactorily (CS/CU) basis.

We would like to thank everyone who have taken part in and contributed to our programme, as well as our sponsor Google, who has been very supportive to the programme. Without you all, the programme would not have been a success in the past few years.

We look forward to another successful run of the programme this year!

[Summary: Visit Skylab (http://nusskylab-dev.comp.nus.edu.sg/) to register your interest for Orbital 2017.]

You may now register your interest to join Orbital 2017. After registering, you’ll be placed on the email list for the summer programme that we will use to keep in contact with you and you’ll be assigned an advisor who will give you more details on the summer course as it progresses. Just visit Skylab (http://nusskylab-dev.comp.nus.edu.sg/) to register yourself (and a teammate if you already know whom you want to work with) using your NUSNET ID.

For instructions in navigating the registration process, watch the YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5A6bojZuMdM.

We know you are wondering about some questions, so here are some answers that may help you clear your doubts:

Q1) Is there any obligation by filling out this registration form?
Answer: Nope, it just allows us to know who you are and to establish contact with you. You can decide not to participate in Orbital even after you register, with no risk to yourself.

Q2) After I fill in the registration form, am I “officially” in?
Answer: If you are a current Year 1 SoC student, yes! Congratulations, you’re done! (Yezzz! High five!) If you belong to other faculty, are doing a minor, are in a different year than year 1, or external to NUS, you will be placed on a list for vacancies that will be approved from time to time. Unfortunately, we can’t exactly tell you when you’ll know when you’ll be allowed to join, but we will endeavour to start turning away students once vacancies are filled in short order, so you can make alternative plans.

Q3) Is there a deadline for filling out this registration form?
Answer: Yes. You can register as late as the end of Reading Week, 23 April 2017. However, the sooner the better for the administrative staff, as we can better estimate the interest from all of you potential first year SoC students. Since there’s no risk (see Q1), why don’t you register? (hint, hint)

[Summary: If you are interested in attending the Azure workshop (2pm) and/or Orbital briefing (4pm) next Wednesday (8 March) at SR1 (COM1-02-06), please register @ http://goo.gl/Ay82bk]

We have organized a two-part event for you next Wednesday (8 March) afternoon!

The first part of the event is a workshop on Azure, the Microsoft cloud services platform. In this workshop, you will get to learn the fundamentals of working in a Microsoft Azure environment and how to deploy your applications to Azure App Services. This could be one of the deployment options that you can consider for your projects in future including Orbital.

The second part of the event is the one and only pre-Lift-off briefing about Orbital, for all prospective students. We hope to get you fired up about the upcoming summer programme and look forward to your questions, concerns and general discussion. Towards the end of the briefing, we have also invited guest speakers to share with you about the NUS Overseas College (NOC) Programme, which is the next step for many Orbital students.

The event will take place at SR1 (COM1-02-06). The workshop will start at 2pm whereas the briefing will start at 4pm.

If you are interested in attending either or both parts this event, please register using this Google form: http://goo.gl/Ay82bk.

Are you excited by solving a challenge designed by a Google engineer? Are you interested in potentially becoming a Google engineer, too? If the answer is yes, then please join us… for Kickstart 2017!

Kickstart 2017, a Code Jam competition, is a series of six online rounds of algorithmic quizzes — all designed by Google engineers. From your own home, you’ll have the opportunity to get a glimpse into the programming skills needed for a technical career at Google, while at the same time showing off your own talents. The top participants from each round may be invited to interview for a role at Google.

Sound familiar? This was formerly known as the APAC University Test. But this year’s competition is bringing you more than a new name. We’re excited that Kickstart has even more rounds of online quizzes and is open to any student across the Asia-Pacific region.

Here’s how to join us

Register today

Round A will be held on Sunday, March 5.

View the preferred dates / times for each quiz.


Learn more about the competition… and start preparing:

Check out our website for Terms and Conditions, FAQs, and more.

Review the “Getting Started” Guide and take a look at past problems.

For any additional questions please contact the Code Jam Kickstart Team at codejamkickstart@google.com

For students in Singapore, the school that has the most registrants by Round 1 (Mar 5) will get to receive prizes! We’ll send a prize for every student registered from that school, so help spread the word to your peers and classmates!

Happy holidays!

Are you free this Saturday (4 Feb) morning for a workshop about Git? It is the most popular tool for project collaborations.

You will need it not only for Orbital, but also many other modules and projects in future. It is really “One stone, Many birds”!

For more details, please refer to the poster below.


Happy holidays!

We have received a few questions about the programme so we would like to answer them here for your information:

Q1. When does the registration start?

Registration starts in early March. We will make an announcement here once the system is ready.

Q2. I am not an SoC student, may I still register for Orbital?

Yes. Although this program mainly caters for year one SoC student, we do have quota for any NUS students. Please go ahead to register when registration starts.

Q3. Are there any fees for taking part in the programme?

No. Although you are to work on your project during summer, the module credits will be given to you next semester, as if you are taking the module then. Therefore, you do not need to pay any fees for the summer.

Q4. Can the module credits be counted towards something other than unrestricted electives (UE)?

No, unfortunately. However, in the past, many students took Orbital for the experience even though they did not need the module credit.