Posted on April 30, 2015 by orbital

As you will have noticed, Orbital 2015 is using Slack for communications.  Slack is like a chat client and organized into channels (something like old style IRC, if you are from that era).

We have seeded a few channels in our team for groups who want to meet like-minded groups to share ideas.  Join as many or as few as you like.  Advisors, Mentors and Tutors will be joining in channels that also meet their expertise or interests. Feel free to start your own channel using the #sig- prefix convention.

  • Sig-NUS – For teams working on NUS related projects (IVLE, NUSmods).
  • Sig-Cloud – For teams interested or using cloud computing components inclusive of IDEs, PaaS, SaaS (e.g., Cloud9,, Heroku, Amazon EC2, EngineYard)
  • Sig-Game – For teams interested in developing games (Unity, PyGame, HTML5 Canvas, PhaserIO)
  • Sig-HW – For teams (and other interested parties) whose projects might include a hardware component (e.g., quadcopters, smartwatch, arduino, raspberry pi, Lego Mindstorms)
  • Sig-Mobile – For teams interested in mobile app development (on iOS, Droid, etc.)
  • Sig-Web – For teams doing web development of sorts (any stack and any language; Py/GAE, Ruby on Rails, Node.js, Py/Flask. PHP/CodeIgniter).

P.S. Finally, if you find Slack useful, you might want to use Slack to create your own team (n.b., not channel) for your own Orbital project, and invite your advisor to be a part.  Some of your seniors have found this platform useful for syncing up with project mates and it seems not to be blocked by certain authorities, specially helpful for teammates that are geographically spread out.

Posted on April 9, 2015 by orbital

SlackWe’re going to try to use Slack as our communications platform for Orbital 2015.  All of those who have expressed their interest in Orbital have been invited to join Slack in the orbital2015 team*.  We hope you’ve got your invite and if not, please check your spam folder (we’ve sent it to the address you gave us as your primary in your registration of interest).

Update: about 1/2 of the cohort has joined Slack, but the other half may have missed their invitation.  If you didn’t get an invite at this point (9 Apr 2015), you may want to check your spam and trash mail folders.  We send the invitation to the address you indicated was your primary address.

In Slack, you (and your teammate, if you registered as a team) will be assigned to a peer evaluation group (an EG) within the next few weeks.  Your advisors will be leading you through the Orbital program as part of their EG.  Stay tuned!  You will receive announcements from Orbital via this #announce channel (they will also be available on the homepage).  See you and good luck on your remaining weeks in Sem II.

Orbitees will gradually be added to this team in slack for Orbital.  Tell your friends who’ve filled out the Registration of Interest form at not to worry yet, as we’re trying to bring up all of our administration up to speed in preparation for the summer.

See you on 11-12 May for the Liftoff Workshop!

* for those from other faculty or outside of NUS and SoC, we may not have accepted your registration yet, due to capacity constraints.  Stay tuned!

Posted on March 10, 2015 by orbital

Photo credit: Jake Christensen

Tomorrow afternoon will be the one and only pre-Liftoff briefing about Orbital, for prospective students.  We hope to get you fired up about the upcoming summer programme and look forward to your questions, concerns and general discussion.

Don’t forget to visit the registration form aka “interest form” to help us convince management and our corporate sponsors (Google) that we need all the help we can get for the magnificent summer ahead!

Here’s that link:

See you!

Posted on August 21, 2014 by orbital

Photo Credits: Jay Williams @ Flickr

This is it!  Tomorrow’s the big event — Splashdown — the capstone to your project!

Some tips:

– Make sure you eat a good meal tomorrow and have a water bottle for drinking.  It gets noisy with 200+ people all talking in one classroom!

– Do print out your posters early.  It will be busy tomorrow and you should try to get your posters done early.  If you do them today, you can drop them off at the “poster locker” in the Undergraduate Office (COM1 #02-19).  Ask Ms Mah Chain Yee, or Ms Nur Arifah to help you place the posters in the right area for pickup tomorrow.

– Make sure to practice your pitch and presentation, even having a way to show your off your products — small leaflets or QR codes with reminders (with project IDs) can be helpful.  Also, no one looked bad by dressing up a bit for these types of events (we will be taking pictures!  Hope you’ll put your selfies on Facebook and link them back to the Splashdown FB page — we have one, didn’t you know?).  There will be some first year students coming to Splashdown, so you can also chat with them to tell them about your lessons learned.

– You will be receiving your voter ID tomorrow either by email (most likely) or at the registration desk.  You will need to take note of this for tomorrow’s best project voting.  Keep an eye out for it.  You will need your smartphone (or stop by the registration desk) to do the voting.  Please do it to keep our event lively!   Note down the projects you think are worthy of being crowned best of Vostok, Project Gemini or Apollo 11.

– Do reciprocate that effort — take the session you’re not in to look around and to see what your other teams have been able to do.  Say “Hi” to your peer teams that you may have only known virtually and give them a boost too for this final run.

– We will be starting an alumni of Orbital page soon, and if you want your name to be captured on there (with your level of achievement), please send Min and Wee Sun a private note by Piazza or by email <>, <>.  If you have a LinkedIn or other social media account and would like to be endorsed for specific skills — by default it would be Google App Engine and Python — also send an invitation to us so that we can eventually (in a few weeks after Splashdown) do this for you.

That is all.  Houston, out.

Posted on August 8, 2014 by orbital

Dear Orbitees:

Congratulations on making it this far!  Hopefully you’re finishing with your evaluation of peer and adviser feedback – due 13 Aug (next Wednesday).  This step should be relatively fast and will be a key step in enabling your peers to make it to their achievement levels.

Now it’s time to start preparing for your very last milestone — Splashdown!

Splashdown is the complement to your Ignition pitch (remember that, way back in May?).  Each team will need to present what they were able to accomplish in their Orbital project.  Teams will have to prepare an A1 sized poster to describe, pitch and demonstrate their work to the audience.  The Splashdown session is broken into two separate poster sessions, held back to back, in SR1 (Seminar Room 1).  Roughly half of the teams will be presenting in the first session and half in the second session.  When your team is not presenting, it’s your chance, privilege and responsibility to go scout out the other projects and talk with your peers about their experience.  After all, you’d like to share (complain?) about how much time you wasted trying to figure out that small bug that was actually absurdly simple, so perhaps you’d like to hear your peers other stories?

Probably more importantly, you’ll need to take note of which projects you think are really good.  There will be public voting to determine the best project for each of the three levels of achievement (Vostok, Project Gemini and Apollo 11).  Public voting is done by you, your peers, any guests (you can and should invite some friends to come boost for your project) and staff.  Staff and staff guests’ votes figure a bit more in the final tally, but much of the prize determination is done by all of you!  So get ready to sell your project to guests — it’s also a chance for you to make good on your communication skills (after all it’s got a bit in common with a job interview).  We’ll be sending you a voter ID on the day of Splashdown so that you can weigh in on which teams projects are the best in class.  Google Singapore will be supplying the prizes and is subsidizing the poster printing, so please go thank them when you see them in person at Splashdown!

We hope you have had an epiphany during your summer self-study and found Computing really the right choice for you and your life path.  Perhaps you’re really fired up about your project and want to know more about how to take it further, or have an even better idea for your next project? During Splashdown, there will be a few short talks by industry guests and by the Entrepreneurship unit of our school, that are on relevant “where to go from here, life after Orbital” topics.  You should review all the information on the Splashdown page now, and one more time closer to Splashdown (as things change as they get updated).

See you soon!

Posted on July 31, 2014 by orbital

Dear students:

We’re almost at the end of Orbital!  We hope your summer self-study journey has been productive and that you have learned and broadened your horizons significantly on the topic of your choice.  Now that you’ve finished the final official Project README, video and log, it’s time to wrap up by evaluating your peers, and preparing for Splashdown on 22 Aug (Friday).

We’ll be posting a separate announcement about Splashdown later next week but for now, let’s concentrate on the evaluation of peer feedback.  This is the (very quick 1 question) evaluation that you do to assess how useful your peers have been in their feedback and critique of your project.  You’ll need to evaluate your peers as well as your adviser on this.  Details about this process are available on Post @1273 in Piazza and also as an 11-minute video recording on YouTube.

A quick note:  Those of you trying for higher levels of achievement may plan to get a lot more done on your project between now and Splashdown to meet that level of achievements’ criteria.  That’s fine — your peers will evaluate you on what you’ve done up to Evaluation 3, but you can petition (by writing to your adviser or to us (Min and Wee Sun) directly) to have your project re-reviewed for the higher level of achievement.  Make sure to do this by Splashdown (22 Aug) as that is the hard deadline for determining level of achievements, and we are likely to need to see your project’s outcome during the showcase to assess your final achievement level.


Posted on June 1, 2014 by orbital

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 7.48.56 am
Photo Credits: James M @ Flickr

Dear all:

Your first Orbital hurdle is here!  Please make sure to put up your project’s README and log into Piazza (see pinned posts @233, @224) no later than 2 Jun 11:59pm SGT, but preferably as soon as possible).

Thanks to the 13 or so groups who have at least put in a preliminary or final project README and log into their EG group.

In the next week, you’ll also need to do the peer evaluations of your three peer teams in your evaluation group listed in Post @235. These evaluations are due as private posts addressed only to your advisor no later than 9 Jun 11:59pm (exactly 1 week later).

Posted on April 17, 2014 by orbital

For those of you who have filled out the Orbital registration form, thank you in advance for making Orbital 2014 a success!  You should now be invited to join the Piazza forum (reminder emails were sent out earlier today, please check your accounts and spam folders). The forum has most of the answers to concerns that you have raised.  Additionally:

  1. Those of you who have already stated their project teammates clearly have been also enrolled to a specific advisor group (hopefully correctly assigned to the same group) where your advisors have written a short note of introduction.  If you’ve gotten this far, congratulations!  You’re ready for Orbital!
  2. If you have been invited to Piazza, but haven’t been allocated to a specific advisor, it’s probably because you didn’t specify a teammate, or that your choice was unclear.  If you have chosen a teammate, let us know (email Min at <>).  If you haven’t yet found a teammate don’t worry, you can use the Piazza forum to solicit for teammates and can find teammates at the Liftoff workshop on the 12th / 14th May mandatory workshop.
  3. If you have filled out the registration form but haven’t been invited to the forum, please let us know.  We sent out registration reminders this evening (17 Apr).
  4. If you’re interested in Orbital but haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, there’s still time.  Please join us by filling the form:

See you soon on the 12th and 14th (all day!).  See the Piazza forum for details on the Liftoff Workshop!

Posted on April 1, 2014 by orbital

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 3.18.38 pmThe Orbital briefing was held on Monday 31 Mar 2014, at 18:00-19:00 (sorry if there was some confusion in our announcement of the timing… my bad).

The slides of the presentation are available here: and the video (audio may / may not be audible, weak laptop mic) is here: (don’t worry the video is not actually an hour long; please scrub it to find the parts that you’re interested in, see the first slides for the narration of the briefing of the video).

If you weren’t convinced to sign up before, then you can do it now (yes, you; yes, right now!) :

If you have continued questions about Orbital, please raise them on the Orbital Piazza Forum.

See you again soon at Liftoff (12 and 14 May)!