Orbital (a.k.a., CP2106: Independent Software Development Project) 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 units*. 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.

(*: If you are planning to use the credits from Orbital to fulfill your degree requirements, please check the specific degree requirements applicable to your cohort for information and consult the undergraduate office of your faculty as needed.)

For external visitors: Check out our Facebook page using the “Facebook” tab on top to find out the current events surrounding Orbital. The remainder of this page is informational for the 2024 cohort.

Self help for Orbitees

Before you have been accepted into the programme…

  • The application period for Orbital 24 is tentatively scheduled in mid-March.
  • Please check out and follow our Facebook page using the “Facebook” tab on top to get the latest updates.
  • Students who are going to do the following will NOT be allowed to participate in Orbital.
    • take part in any internship registered under SoC/CFG for units (via CP3880/CP3200/CP3202/CFG2101), NOC, UG Summer Research Program (CP2107) for the summer (i.e., May to July) or
    • complete CS2103/CS2103T/CS2113/CS2113T by the end of this semester

After you have been accepted into the programme…

  • To submit milestone READMEs, project logs, posters and videos, as well as to evaluate your peer teams’ projects, login to Skylab.
  • 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 materials, you can usually check the YouTube channel as well as either the Liftoff or Mission Control tabs in this website.
  • To communicate with staff, especially your advisor (n.b., not mentor), email your advisor directly. The contact details of your advisor (and mentor, where applicable) are available in Skylab.
  • For all other matters, use MS Teams. For administrative matters, first try to contact your assigned advisor, and then the facilitators. We recommend installing the MS Teams mobile client to keep abreast of announcements.

Structure and Calendar

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

Orbital consists of 3 main events (details accessible from the navigation bar above):

  1. (mandatory) Liftoff (13-20 May 2024; the week right after final exams): project idea formulation + planning
  2. (optional) Mission Control (18/25 + 1/8 Jun 2024: the first few Saturdays of the programme): workshops on technical / software engineering topics + project consultations
  3. (mandatory) Splashdown (28 Aug 2024; Wednesday, Week 3 of Sem I, AY 2024/25): poster presentation + awards ceremony

In addition, although Orbital is structured as a self-driven programme, it consists of 3 (mandatory) 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 (3 Jun 2024)
    • Peer Evaluation 1 (10 Jun 2024)
  2. Evaluation Milestone 2 (1 Jul 2024)
    • Peer Evaluation 2 (8 Jul 2024)
  3. Evaluation Milestone 3 (29 Jul 2024)
    • Peer Evaluation 3 (5 Aug 2024)
    • Feedback on Peer Evaluations (10 Aug 2024)

Tentatively, all these events (except Splashdown) will be conducted online so it is in general ok for you to go overseas during the programme. However, you are expected to manage your time properly to complete all the required tasks on time. Being overseas is NOT a valid excuse for missing the deadlines.

There is an official Google calendar for Orbital. You can add it 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 units worth of unrestricted electives (UE) at the end of Orbital, for Sem I of the following academic year. 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. (Note: This level of achievement is not available for attempt from Orbital 23 onwards. All teams are required to start with Project Gemini or above.)
  • 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 develop more complex features, and use or demonstrate awareness of basics in software engineering, testing and documentation. Project teams also must provide useful evaluations of their peers.
  • Artemis (extreme): Any Apollo 11 project advanced further to develop even more complex features, to use or demonstrate good knowledge in software engineering, testing and documentation. Project teams also must provide detailed and useful evaluations of their peers.

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