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The 2017 eBusiness Practicum at Carnegie Mellon

The Master of Science in Information Technology – eBusiness Technology program is a component of Carnegie Mellon’s Institute for Software Research.  It is the successor to an earlier Master of Science in eCommerce program that began in 1999.  The programs have together produced more than 800 eBusiness professionals, who are employed around the world.

The MSIT eBusiness program prepares students for careers in a unique way.  The degree program offers no classes.  Instead, students work full-time for 10 months in teams of five on a series of 16 separate eBusiness projects requiring them to produce professional consulting-quality output, including system designs, specifications, working code, business analyses and persuasive business presentations.  The premise during these tasks is that the students are actually employees of a hypothetical eBusiness consulting company which performs work for real clients, such as University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Wal-Mart.  The students rotate through four consulting practices: health care, banking, retail and logistics.  Each task is supervised by two faculty members, one an area expert and the other a mentor to guide the students in completing each task.

After the 16th task, by which time the students are experts in team organization and management, they work on a real problem provided by a paying industrial sponsor.  The only grading criterion for the Practicum is sponsor satisfaction, as it would be in a true consulting engagement.  A team of seven students works for 9 weeks under the guidance of two faculty members, yielding more than one man-year of labor.  Each project must yield a demonstrable software prototype, which is licensed to the sponsor according to Carnegie Mellon’s licensing policies.  We have completed over 120 Practicum projects so far, for such companies as American Express, Bank of New York Mellon, Dick’s Sporting Goods, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, PNCBank, Raymond James, Samsung and Wells Fargo.

At the end of the Practicum, each team makes a private presentation to its sponsor, and a brief public presentation before a panel of outside judges.  The judges then name one and only one team the winner of the annual Practicum Prize, and the successful student team in 2017 will receive $14,000.  The second-place team will receive $7000.  The winning team in 2016 was Robotany, for a project to develop a software system for controlling a robotic vertical farm.  The level of competitiveness and accomplishment among the Practicum teams is extremely high.  A full list of the 2016 projects can be viewed here.

A fee is charged for the Practicums.  For a large entity (300 or more employees), the fee is $20,000.  For small entities, the fee is $10,000.  We commit to furnish at least one man-year of effort and produce a working prototype.  As this is a student project, no warranties or guarantees are provided.

All that is required to initiate a Practicum is to give a commitment and work with the Program Director to develop a one-page description of a problem and desired outputs by May 31. In 2017 the Practicum runs from June 26 to August 25, when the public prize competition will be held.  The one-page descriptions are presented to the students in early June.  The students express preferences as to which projects they would like to work on.  The faculty then assign students to the various projects based on the technical needs of each project and the preferences of the students.

For more information, please contact the Program Director, Prof. Michael Shamos: shamos@cs.cmu.edu.