You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.  Actually, no.  We have answers and perhaps you have the questions.  Anyways, if you’re wondering about Orbital, please take a look through some of the questions that have surfaced in previous cohorts about the eligibility, time frame, partner matching, levels of achievement and other topics, in the comments (i.e., click the link below the post that shows the number of comments).  You can also ask additional questions here or on our Facebook page.

Do note that registration is not yet open. We plan to open registration after the Chinese New Year break in February. There will be a briefing about Orbital and likely another event to help match prospective partners with each other in a face to face meet-up. We’ll be announcing more details as we go forward through your CS 1010, 1020, 2020, 2010 (and variants) lecturers.

32 thoughts on “(Not-so) Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Group size of 1?
    #team_size #2015 #requirements #reg_question #structure

    Q: Can I solo yolo 🙁

    A: Unfortunately, no. Orbital currently requires a team size of two. We would like you to work with a partner closely in developing your project. You must start out with team size of two. Both students in the team must eligible for Orbital, except in the case of an NOC-selected student who wants to pull in a student outside of the normal criteria for Orbital.

    The criteria for Orbital participation is:

    * SoC student in their first year
    * NUS Overseas College applicant (NOC) recommended student
    * Student who has been manually registered or given permission to take part in Orbital by Orbital Facilitators.

    Hope that helps!

    See the similar question on a group size of 3.

  2. Q: Is there any channel for assistance on our projects?

    A: Great question!
    There will be an advisor, a senior alumnus of Orbital, assigned to your team, which will be shared will all teams in your peer group. They are there for encouragement, to act as a fellow peer team during the evaluation process and to give non-technical feedback.

    Apollo 11 teams can also opt to have a professional mentor assigned to them but that requires a stronger commitment from the team to finish Orbital at the Apollo 11 level. If teams take a mentor and fail to demonstrate sufficient progress, they will fail Orbital.

  3. Q: Can we use other programming languages to implement our product?
    #languages #2015 #reg_question #project

    A: Yes, you are more than welcomed to use another language to implement your project! This constitutes a higher level of difficulty and will, in part, qualify your team for a higher level of achievement.

    Please take a look at the level of difficulty description on the website, and wait till we get the more detailed roadmap for levels of achievement up. Stay tuned!

  4. Q: Where do the 4MCs get assigned to? Do they map to any set of programme requirements?

    A: They end up as Unrestricted Electives (UE). They do not help to satisfy any programme requirements. The credits will be assigned as ‘S’ 4MC for CP3108B Independent Work.
    CP3108 is an “umbrella course” that SoC uses to lump together S/U related independent work projects. The ‘B’ variant is for 4 MCs, and there exists another ‘A’ variant for 2MCs (not used in Orbital). Since NUS allows you only to take credits for a module one time, if you do a subsequent CP3108B course (for example, our Mozilla Open Source Contributing module), you will not be able to get an additional 4 MCs.

  5. Q: Official Registration

    I’ve filled on the Orbital Registration of Interest form.
    When do I hear whether I am part of the Orbital cohort? Is there any additional steps I need to take?

    A: Actually, for the bulk of individuals registering on the “Registration of Interest” form at:

    that’s it. Congrats, you’re in! ^_^

    For students with extenuating circumstances (e.g., from other faculty or other years), we will be reviewing your application on a case-by-case basis. See the other question tagged with “eligibility”.
    We will be building a web application to serve Orbital and once that’s ready, you’ll be invited to check the registration details of your team there. That system will be ready close to the start of Orbital, around early May. Expect to hear from us then.

  6. Q: May I also participate in other summer courses while in Orbital?

    A: Sure, that’s actually encouraged! You may be working part-time or full-time, on vacation, on course, or just about anything in parallel with Orbital.

    The obligations in Orbital are again:

    * to physically attend the two mandatory functions:
    — Liftoff on 11-12 May
    — Splashdown in mid-Aug (likely Week 2 of Sem 1)
    * to file progress reports at each evaluation milestone (late May, Jun and Jul)
    * to evaluate your peer groups’ projects after filing your progress reports (also late May, Jun, Jul)
    If you have difficulties attending either/both of the mandatory functions, see the other questions about this issue here on the forum.

  7. Q: What about the Intellectual Property of the project?

    I understand that NUS owns what I develop in Orbital. How does that actually work?

    Can I sell the project to a business?

    A: Yes, that’s right. Strictly speaking, on paper and in legal terms, NUS owns whatever work/code/product you build for any NUS module, inclusive of Orbital.

    But practically speaking, its the other way around. Our NUS Enterprise unit works very hard to help you find an appropriate partner to bring your ideas to market. Building software is just one (relatively small) component in market success. NUS Enterprise, who oversees the IP of NUS, would much rather have success stories about students who became successful entrepreneurs, rather than take capital or equity from fledgling start-ups. It is the practical interest of NUS to help you succeed, rather than try to take away from your hard work.

    If you have any doubts about this, we will be happy to link you up with the appropriate people from NUS Enterprise and also with our own faculty that specializes on entrepreneurship.

  8. Q: Is the module graded? How is the course graded?

    A: Well, that depends on what you mean:

    No, in the sense you do not receive a letter grade for the course. You will receive 4 MCs if you finish your project to the basic level requirement for Vostok.

    Yes, in the sense that your peers (the other student teams assigned to help you improve your project through peer feedback) will decide whether you have accomplished enough to pass Orbital. They also determine the level of achievement that your project is due (e.g., Vostok, Project Gemini or Apollo 11).

  9. Q: Can I reuse an idea from another module that I’ve taken?

    A: Yes, in fact you are encouraged use and extend existing projects. There are lots of projects out there that can benefit from code contributed by others. Many open source projects (for example the ones that you can find on GitHub), rely upon open source contributions by the community.

    You can certainly decide to make your Orbital project a contribution to open source if you wish, by picking a project that is already out there and improving upon it.

    You can, of course, decide to extend a project from a previous module that you’ve taken. That is fine as well.

  10. Q: Missing mandatory Liftoff workshop. I will be attending a short course (special term 1) during the summer vacation at NTU due to my scholarship requirements. As such I might not be able to attend the two(?) compulsory workshop during Liftoff. Would there be any implications if I were to miss this two workshop? Thank you.

    A: If, for any reason, you cannot make any of the two mandatory events (i.e., Liftoff or Splashdown), you need to let us know in advance by email. Send an email to Min at kanmy@comp to get it approved. Post event excuses will not be accepted.
    Generally, we accept excuses if your partner can cover your duties. For example, if you cannot attend Liftoff, and your partner is attending, and you can learn from your partner what happened during the event, that will be fine. Our staff still needs to be notified, so please do not skip the step notify us by email.

    If both partners are unable to attend a mandatory event, we will be able to discuss this case with you individually. Again, please notify us in advance.

  11. Q: Can we see some sample projects? What have other teams in past years done?

    A: Here you go. [As of 2016, there will be a facility to see alumni projects within Skylab].

    Centralized Orbital Website
    NUS Bell Curve God
    Consumer to consumer
    Project ALIS
    Go NUS
    Lunch with me
    Panda Escapade
    My Recipe Shop
    NUS Module Skill Tree
    CORS Advisor
    The Marketplace
    Project Hoots
    Online Album
    Pantry Defence
    Beauty Bible
    NUS Car Pooling
    Second Glance
    NUS Module Review
    The Junk Room
    NUS Modules
    Game Reviews
    BaD module planner
    Island Footprint
    Hungry Go There
    My Daily Life
    NUS CCA Finder
    Fabulous 21
    Hungry NUS
    NUS Bid Like A Boss
    Apollo 11
    Mod Crasher
    Crew Finder
    Tortise N Penguin
    Mod Maven
    And from 1969, the original Apollo 11 project

  12. Q: Are there any dates or workshops where we must be present?

    Apart from the first two mandatory workshop days, are there any others which requires our mandatory attendance?

    A: [Updated for 2016 cohort] Yes, there are 2 mandatory events:

    * Liftoff: a two-day mandatory workshop on the 9th and 10th of May. Need to make sure that You can be available during these two dates to go over the basic project of building a web application using Python and Google App Engine (GAE). We strongly advise that you make arrangements now to extend your hostel or hall stay an extra couple of days after exams finish.
    * Splashdown: a three-hour closing event in the afternoon/early evening during Week 2 or 3 during Sem I 2016/17. Currently, it will be schedule around ~19 Aug.

    If you cannot attend these two events, you need to let us know in advance so that we can decide whether it is excusable for your case. See some of the other questions for details on how to apply for an excuse to miss a mandatory event.

    • Thanks for your question. Registration for Orbital is not yet open. We’ll be announcing the registration details after the Chinese New Year break. We are doing the roadshows for Orbital now, as we want students to be able to plan accordingly (especially for the Liftoff workshop, held on the first two days after exams).

      Announcements will come through IVLE to the respective modules where the roadshows were held: i.e., CS1010, CS1020, CS2020 and other letter variants. Registration of course will also be announced here.

  13. Q: Registration deadline. When is the deadline for orbital registration? Will late registrations be entertained?

    A: [This answer does not apply for 2016, yet. For 2016, you will likely be registering for Orbital by signing into Skylab.]

    The “official” deadline for registration will be right before the start of Orbital; i.e., 10 May.

    But due to limits on the cohort size for Orbital, you should register your interest for the module as soon as possible.

    Here is the registration of interest form again:

  14. Q: What kinds of projects can we do? What exactly are we developing in orbital? Are there restrictions on the type of projects we can do, or are there any recommended projects that we can take up? Are there any restrictions on what we can develop? What other projects can we undertake besides creating apps and websites, which seem to be the standard options?

    A: Actually, there’s no very good answer for this question.

    And that’s a good thing, because the type of project that you can do for Orbital is only limited by your imagination. The basic project is a web application project because:

    * It’s relatively easy to do;
    * your efforts have immediate results;
    * it’s easy for you to show to others, including prospective employers in the future;
    * and it’s easy for others to evaluate (specifically, your peer teams that are assigned help you).
    … but we’ve had a lot of other students try other interesting projects. These will take more effort on your part, because we may not have any expertise within the Orbital staff to help you. Students have also done:

    – Mobile apps (iOS, Droid)
    – Games (Unity)
    – Embedded systems projects (Raspberry Pi, Ardruino)
    – Contributing to larger, open-source projects
    – Extending projects from other modules or ECA

  15. Q: Is there a theme for Orbital? Will there be a theme?

    A: No, there’s no theme per se for Orbital this year.

    However, we are hoping to tag projects with keywords, so that student teams can self organize into special interest groups (SIGs) to help learn from each other on like-minded projects. For example, every year we have some projects that deal with module bidding or ECA within NUS, so we may group all of such projects with the tag “SIG_NUS”.

    Stay tuned for details about this development

  16. Q: Reporting progress during Orbital. How should we report our progress of Orbital during summer holidays?

    A: Reporting for Orbital takes the form of a project log, a README and a video.
    * Log: the log summarizes the number of hours that you and your projectmate have put into your project. You must accumulate a total of at least 130 hours by the time you finish to qualify for the course.
    * README: this is a textual summary of how your project is faring. You will give an overview of your project, detail changes from the previous milestone, and discuss what is planned for the next milestone.
    * Video: the video supplies extra context for communicating details your project. You can give a demo of project features in such a video.
    There will be additional detail about the evaluation process when we open up the first milestone in late May. Each milestone will have slightly different evaluation criteria, to accommodate changes in the maturity of your project.

  17. Q: What is the commitment like?

    How heavy is the commitment to the project? Are we limited to specific programming language to implement our program?

    Will it be difficult for students who has no prior experience in web applications development?

    How heavy was the commitment (time spend) by past project groups?

    A: To achieve a basic pass in Orbital (Vostok), you simply need to spend 130+ hours working on your project. Your past will largely be determined by your peers; whether they think you have spent enough time an have demonstrated enough progress in your project to pass the course.

    We think that the basic project of designing a web application that can create, replace, update and delete data (commonly known as “CRUD”) is quite achievable for anyone in the School of Computing, even for students who did not do well academically in their first-year courses. Even for the general public, there are a number of websites, tutorials, videos that show a non-techie person how to build such applications.

    For students aiming for higher levels of achievement, the sky’s the limit, in terms of the number of hours you might commit. Some of our students who have achieved Apollo 11 report over 400 hours of time committed to project. We have found that many students, because they’re doing a project of their own liking and desire, and committing much more time than the minimum to achieving their project goals. This is the passion that we hope to inspire in this course.

  18. Q: Just learned programming, is that sufficient?

    I have just learned programming this semester, but I really interested to learn more and be exposed to more opportunities. I am just afraid that my skill level is not there.

    Both of us have no experience in web applications development, will the learning curve be very steep?

    Is it necessary to have a strong programming background to do well?

    A: Yes, any level of experience (even none) is sufficient to pass Orbital as long as you commit to trying and putting in effort to do Orbital *.

    Many of the resources that we will be using to teach you how to program web application are meant for complete layman (i.e., the general public). There are now a plethora of websites, video tutorials, walk-throughs, that detail how to build common web platforms.

    So you should just register and try your best summer to complete it. We’re sure you’ll succeed!

    *: okay, there is requirement. You should be able to type. ^_^

  19. Q: What are the requirements for the different levels of difficulties? I’m unclear about the differences.

    A: Восто́к, Gemini, and Apollo 11

    Orbital features three levels of achievements that student teams self-select. Towards the end of the program, you will be asked to specify which level you think you have reached. Your peer evaluators and your advisor will also be asked on the level you reached. The staff will take in these inputs in making the final decision.

    Note that all Orbital achievement levels impose both project oriented achievements and peer grading and evaluation achievements. Both are integral requirements in Orbital.

    Восто́к (Vostok) (Easy/Beginner) Requirements =================================================

    To complete the Vostok level, each of the two members of the project need to:

    Attend the Liftoff workshop.
    Log the time you spent on the programme, with a total time of at least 130 hours.
    Participate in the end of summer showcase Splashdown.
    The team must also:

    Complete a basic web application (following the Google App Engine/Python framework as outlined by our programme).
    Something similar to the basic Giftbook example with creation, retrieval, and deletion of record is sufficient.
    If you do something different, you should argue why what you do is roughly equivalent in your final report.
    Complete the peer-grading exercises.
    Show progress on your project over all three evaluation milestones (late May, late June, late July).
    Score an average of at least 2 stars (satisfactory) out of 4 on feedback given to other teams, and on own peer-graded project.
    If you cannot complete some of the basic requirements, you should ask for permission to be excused before the deadlines from the instructors. (Восто́к was name of the series of spaceflight program started by the Soviet Union which was the first to successfully launch a human, Yuri Gagarin, into space and return him safely to Earth).

    Project Gemini (Intermediate) Requirements ==============================================

    To complete Project Gemini, each project member must complete the milestones for Vostok, and additionally, the team must:

    Complete at least 4 additional extension milestones. Possible extensions include:
    Use an alternative platform based Ruby on Rails, PHP, etc. instead of GAE.
    Add an administrative front end for your app.
    Social integration (see e.g.
    Facebook or OpenID login (other than that provided automatically by Google App Engine), see e.g.,
    Input validation and exception handling (see e.g. You may also be interested to read about how validation is related to security, e.g. at, or about security more generally, e.g. at
    Use cookies with hashing (see e.g.
    Google Maps API, or OneMap API
    Communicate with some web services using JSON, XML or other communication format (see e.g.
    Have the app displayed appropriately on different mobile clients.
    Complete 2-3 Mission Control homeworks as given by the tutor, and applied the technology learned into your project.
    Other features (including those listed for Apollo 11), but you should argue why what you do is roughly equivalent the features here in your final report. If you’re not sure, please feel free to raise your doubts on the OSQA to the class and advisor.
    For teams pursing non-web projects (e.g., game development, mobile app development, embedded systems project), convincingly show that your project constitutes an intermediate level of achievement (functionally extending or going beyond a basic project or tutorial in some other technology stack, where the functionality is similar in difficulty to 2 of the above extensions)
    Score an average of at least 2.5 stars (better than satisfactory) out of 4 on feedback given to other teams, and on own peer-graded project.
    (Gemini was the second manned spacecraft programme by the USA. It launched ten missions between 1965-1966. Neil Armstrong cut his chops in Project Gemini before returning in the USA’s Project Apollo series of missions.)

    Apollo 11 (Difficult/Advanced) Requirements ===============================================

    To complete the Apollo 11 level, the team must fulfil requirements of Project Gemini and additionally:

    Use some form of version control, such as Git.
    Extend the project in some way with regards to communication and users by doing at least one of these: Execute some form of usability testing (focus group, survey, expert review) Market your app to get at least 200 users Write a business plan based on the app Complete at least 2 more technical extensions targeted at either maintainability, deployment, distributed environments, analytics, or interesting use of sensing/hardware platforms. Possible extensions include: Unit testing (see e.g. Use of transactions for correctness in a distributed environment (see e.g. Do performance optimization (see.g.,”>”>, Describe the optimization you did in your report and the improvement in performance. Do data analytics on some large datasets (see e.g. You may be able to find some datasets at and APIs Use MapReduce to process lots of data quickly (see e.g. Use camera, sound, or other sensor inputs on mobile platforms. Other features, but you should argue why what you do is roughly equivalent the features here in your final report.
    Must render assistance to other teams, by participating actively on OSQA, in Mission Control sessions or in other ways. For non-web projects, convincingly show that your project constitutes an advanced level of achievement (functionally extending or going beyond in some other technology stack, where the functionality is similar in difficulty to 1 of the above Apollo 11 extensions) Score an average of at least 3 (good) stars out of 4 on feedback given to other teams, and on own peer-graded project.
    (Apollo 11 was the first mission by the US NASA agency to land a human on the moon, and safely return him to Earth. The distinction of being the first men on the moon belongs to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.)

    The selection of the difficulty level is binding in the case of teams opting to do Apollo 11 with external mentorship, i.e., student teams that elect to do Apollo 11 and but do not complete the necessary achievements as judged by the mentoring staff will be deemed to have failed the course. This because the advanced-level achievements involve industry professionals and/or student mentors (i.e., costs manpower to run).

    We encourage students to try for the highest level of achievement possible within the time, as this will enhance your independent learning abilities. Note that the specifications are more detailed and possibly more demanding (for levels higher than Восто́к) compared to last year’s specifications as last year was the first time Orbital was run.

    Vostok (Beginner) will be given once you achieve the objective of the Liftoff workshop (basic Python, GAE). For the intermediate level (Project Gemini), you need to be able to implement a set of features for your project that is appropriate to show that you can either improve on the basic project, or have been able to complete a project in another framework / technology stack (if not improving on the Vostok technologies).

    For Apollo 11, you need to be able to complete code testing, documentation and usability testing of your project.

    The actual requirements will differ per-project, mostly because different student teams may select different technologies or projects to do. If in doubt, please check with the faculty members coordinating the course.

    The Liftoff workshop should give you the basic knowledge to complete the basic Vostok project. But for other achievement levels, you will likely have to self learn and trawl the Web for technical information to achieve your objectives.

  20. Q: How hard is the advanced level?

    How feasible is it for an ambitious person who doesn’t know much or have much experience about deploying web apps and software engineering in general to take the advanced level?

    A: That is a difficult question to answer. A large difference in motivation, commitment, technical skill and information finding skill all have impact on the success of the project. Also in Orbital, the success of the project at advanced levels requires that you give good feedback to other projects as well. So, it’s not just the success of your own project, but also how helpful you can help others with this.

    Because the levels of achievement in Orbital are not fixed at enrollment time, but determined at the end of the summer, it’s possible to advance from beginner to intermediate to advanced, all in a linear fashion. We hope that team who able to achieve the basic level decide to continue on and try something more challenging and rewarding.

  21. Q: Another form of teaching for Vostok?

    Apart from the workshop, will there be another form of teaching Vostok?

    A: Formal teaching, no. There are lots of web resources out there that you can use to teach yourself (or your team) the necessary skills for the course. We will help direct you to these and troubleshoot you in your progress in these self-help courses.

    For more assistance, we highly encourage you to take advantage of the weekly Mission Control hacking sessions that we will be conducting on evenings in SoC or other suitable venues. Exact day of week TBA. At least most of the May Mission Control sessions will be geared toward revising and reviewing information that we covered in the Liftoff crash course.

  22. Q: Is this a 100% peer-graded module? If so, how fair can it be as other participants can choose to give all other projects a bad grade even though the project is of a substantial standard?

    A: Yes, this is a 100% peer graded course. We expect (and hope) that most of you will be able to handle learning about programming/hacking on your own and should be able to pass the basic level of the course.
    The instructing staff will be evaluating projects in circumstances where there are any conflicts or inconsistencies, especially if the student group in question may not fulfill the minimum requirements for passing Orbital. Your Orbital Advisors will also be giving grades that will have a strong component in your final assessment.

    Orbital is not graded on a curve, so we are hoping that through the peer-grading element of Orbital, you will gain useful feedback from each other in a critical manner that can improve your projects, and not meant as a method to bring each other down.

  23. Q: What happens if we don’t complete the programme? How will we know whether we’ll pass?

    From the roadshow and the posts, I think that the Orbital programme is risk-free, in the sense that I can’t fail (U) the course.

    Is this really true? What’s to stop me from just trying it out and backing out later?

    A: Yes, it’s true (with the exception of Apollo 11 with mentorship.

    In the self-driven (i.e. no mentorship) version of Orbital, once you do the minimum Vostok (easy/beginner) program, you’re guaranteed a pass. You can (and are encouraged) to work much harder to reach Project Gemini or Apollo 11.

    If at some point during the summer it’s apparent to you that you won’t have enough time to commit to Orbital, you can withdraw from the course without penalty. We simply won’t enrol you for the course in the Sem 1 of 2015/2016. All students whom we enrol for the course (we do it within the undergraduate office, it automagically appears in your transcript halfway in Sem 1 and doesn’t affect any CORS or bidding process) get an “S” by the semester’s end.

  24. Q: Switching level of difficulty

    Is it possible to switch between difficulty levels during the course of the project or would the difficulty levels be already preset to the one of expressed interest?

    Is it possible to change the level of achievement I want to achieve halfway through Orbital?

    If the intermediate level turns out to be too difficult, is it possible to switch over to the beginner level halfway through the course?

    While doing the project, we discovered that let’s say if the project is too technical or we don’t have enough time to complete, is it possible to reselect level of achievement?

    A: Yes, you can switch up or down levels of achievement (loa), with the exception of Apollo 11 with mentorship1. Your final level of achievement is only determined at the end of Orbital, after the closing Splashdown event.

    It does help to know what you are targeting to do with Orbital at the beginning so that you can aim and manage your time appropriately. We find that students who target a higher level of achievement usually accomplish it, and get the most out of this self-driven programme.

    Yes. You can change your level of achievement at any time during the summer, with one exception. Your level of achievement is only awarded at the end of the summer period, during the Splashdown showcase.

    1The exception is with Apollo 11 with mentorship. This is because mentorship costs your mentor time. We want to discourage people from picking up Apollo 11 with mentorship without having a serious commitment to seeing the project through. If a student team decides to take over polo 11 with mentorship but fails to achieve all objectives, they will get no credit for the module (meaning, no registration for the module).

  25. Q: [This is a questions also from 2015, so dates are wrong for 2016] Possible early leave on day 2 During Workshop

    I have currently signed up for Orbital. However, due to some change in my flight to China, there is a possibility for me to leave early on 12th May. My flight is at 6pm and i may need to leave by 3.

    I am emailing to ask what will happen after 3pm on the day? So we can decide if i can go first while my partner stays.

    A: The second day’s afternoon is the most crucial of Orbital’s Liftoff workshop: it’s the period of Ignition, where you and your partner will have to give a 1 minute on-stage presentation about your project, along with all of the others in the cohort.

    You may be excused and your partner can present on your team’s behalf in this case. We wouldn’t want you to miss your flight home.

    You might also find the post on missing the mandatory Liftoff workshop helpful.

  26. Q: External projects for Orbital credit?

    I will be taking part in an external project with a company. Its a project that requires me to make a coorperative game with Oculus Rift and Virtuix Omni to allow the professor to study brain wave of the player when playing it. Do u think i can use it as my orbital project as well?

    I mean, can I combine both together? or orbital scope is only software side?

    A: That’s fine. You can use it for your Orbital project too, but you need to make clear what part of the project you are doing for the external (to Orbital) project and what extension of your project is being done for Orbital. Your peers will have to judge that your claimed extension (exclusive of the work being done for your project internship/credit/module) is sufficient for credit.

    Your Orbital project’s scope is up to you. You just need to clearly delineate it from any other project that you’re doing that is related. You may not count a project for more than one course’s credit.

    Orbital can be both hardware or software but must be computing related. As you need to clearly delineate your Orbital project from other projects, it is not advisable to combine the project as there would be overlapping scope that would not be clear for the assignation of credit.

  27. Q: [This is a 2015 question, so there will be a different workflow for the 2016 cohort]

    Eligibility of Non-Computing or CS Minor students

    I’m not a Year 1 Computing Student. Do I qualify for Orbital if I am:

    * a CS Minor?
    * considering transferring into Computing?
    * doing Orbital with someone who does qualify?
    How do I indicate these circumstances in the registration of interest form?

    A: For all other cases (aside from the ones listed in the form), use the Others field and write a short description there. We will be linking these cases up with any emails that you provide us (to Min at to approve on a case-by-case basis.

    Note that since this is a School of Computing module, we need to serve our own undergraduates first. Other students from other years and/or faculty are eligible for Orbital if there are remaining vacancies (we have logistic constraints; our venue for our SR1-based Splashdown only realistically can hold about 250 students + faculty.

    In the case where we receive too many applications and our cohort needs to be more limited, we will have to require students outside of SoC to take up at least an intermediate achievement (Project Gemini) level if they are going to join Orbital. You may want to check on those requirements if you plan to enrol.

    The spaces for external students that satisfy this requirement will be given on an first-come, first-served basis. Enrol early on the registration of interest form and we’ll let you know when we can whether you are accepted to join Orbital or not. Again you can register for the course here:

  28. Q: What about the distinction between Apollo 11 and Apollo 11 with mentorship?

    Follow on question: at the end of this semester, i will have completed CS1020. I will be very free for this summer vacation and I am looking forward to spend more of my time productively. I am considering to dedicate my time and opt for the Apollo 11 with mentorship scheme. But I am wondering whether the mentorship scheme requires someone who has had prior experience in software development. Also, does the mentorship scheme dictates the projects that students do, or is the theme still decided by students? I look forward to your answers.

    A: Mentorship requires you to complete the module. You won’t be able to “drop” the module. There’s no distinction on the amount of work you must do. With mentorship, you have to satisfy your mentor’s expectation on your level of achievement.
    It’s a very good motivator for student teams who have more time to devote during the summer. It also potentially leads to future job employment (either full-time or internship) as many mentors either directly or indirectly have openings for strong software developers. Think of it as a means to acquire one of the reference letters on your CV/résumé!

    It is a commitment that you are making to ensure that your mentor’s time is well vested for your personal development. You cannot back out of Apollo 11 with mentorship, and it’s the only option in Orbital that potentially can lead to a ‘U’ in the course — although we think highly unlikely (mentors are understanding of extenuating circumstances and you could choose A11 without mentorship if you aren’t fully committed in the summer).

    Mentorship is defined as having a third party (usually from industry or alumni) helping with your Orbital project. It can take any form, from having the mentor dictate the project or just provide feedback when needed. It is up the team (your team and the mentor) to define how you’d like the mentorship to work out.
    If you opt for Apollo 11 mentorship, then you must complete your Orbital to the satisfaction of your mentor.

    Different from mentors are advisors. All teams are assigned an advisor (as you’ll see in the group that you are assigned to), regardless of whether they opt for Apollo 11 with mentorship or any other level of difficulty. Advisors are assigned to assist teams in the peer evaluation process, and to give an additional “official” evaluation of projects during that process.

    More complete details about mentorship is available here:

    You can certainly do projects that are of interest to your mentor (in fact, this is a very good method for guaranteeing synergy and the vested interest of your mentor). But of course, the mentor team understands that most students are interested in their own project ideas.

  29. Q: Hi I am a CEG 2 student. However, I was previously in CEE in my first academic year (AY2014/15) and only started CEG in AY2015/16. So you could say on paper I am a Year 2 student but in some sense I am like a CEG 1 student. Will I be eligible to qualify for Orbital?

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