Fwd: Re: Thunderbird Project as 3rd-year Engineering Group Project

Patrick Cloke patrick at cloke.us
Thu Feb 4 14:08:07 UTC 2016


Thanks for bringing this up! It seems like a great opportunity if we had
some people volunteer.

I'd expect there to be a bit of overlap in the projects that would be
good for Google Summer of Code, for which we're accepting project
proposals right now [1]! [2]

Personally, I'd be willing to mentor any of our chat projects for a team
of students at Victoria University.


/ https://wiki.mozilla.org/Community:SummerOfCode16#Thunderbird
[2] 1 student in GSoC is expected to work full time for 12 weeks (40 *
12 == 480 hours), vs. 4 - 6 students working 150 hours over a semester
(150 * 4 - 6 == 600 - 900 hours)

On 2/2/16 5:38 PM, R. Kent James wrote:
> I've had some discussions with James Quilty about major student
> engineering projects involving Thunderbird. Here is his proposal, and
> he is asking for specific suggestions of appropriate projects.
> -- 
> R. Kent James
> Chair, Thunderbird Council
> @rkentjames
> -------- Forwarded Message --------
> Subject: 	Re: Thunderbird Project as 3rd-year Engineering Group Project
> Date: 	Wed, 3 Feb 2016 01:41:21 +1300
> From: 	James Quilty <James.Quilty at ecs.vuw.ac.nz>
> To: 	R. Kent James <rkent at caspia.com>
> Hi Kent,
>  Here's the proposal I made for a 3rd-year engineering group project
> working on part of Thunderbird, edited for coherence. I'd be happy for
> this to be forwarded to a mailing list for wide consideration.
>  The School of Engineering and Computer Science
> <http://ecs.victoria.ac.nz/> at Victoria University of Wellington runs
> group projects as part of its project management course. The School
> has students from three specialisations, Electronics and Computer
> Engineering (ECEN), Software Engineering (SWEN) and Network
> Engineering (NWEN). I'm running these courses from this year.
>  I'm looking for suitable projects for a team of 4-6 students which
> could run across our academic year (March-October) with a workload of
> about 5 hours per week for a total of around 150 hours. Both figures
> are per student. The purpose of the project is to give the students
> practical experience in applying the project management tools they are
> learning about in
> lectures. An achievable but challenging project for SWEN (and NWEN)
> students would be really good - this is where I thought a Thunderbird
> project might be appropriate.
>  To give you an idea of what students have been able to produce last
> year in a half-year project, please see the WaiNZ
> <http://wainz.org.nz/> homepage. The map UI and the Android, iPhone
> and Windows Phone apps were all produced or refined in a half-year
> project. I'd like something with similar scope for 2016, just run
> across the full year. If you want to know what kind of background the
> students have by 3rd year, please see the SWEN and NWEN course
> descriptions on the School's homepage. One relevant course SWEN
> students may take in 3rd year, for example, is a course in UI engineering.
>  Any project for the students would have to be "SMART":
>   * Have goal or end-point that can be specified and refined through
>     student discussion with the client. For example, a project
>     involving the completion of a coherent set of bug-fixes and/or
>     enhancements. 
>   * Produce measurable/testable effect - something that can be
>     observed in Thunderbird.
>   * Be reasonably achievable in about 150 hours per student (about 900
>     hours for a team of six students).
>   * Delivered by/at the end of a single academic year.
> What I have in mind when I write "coherent" is bugs or enhancements
> all related to, say, one component of Thunderbird. It shouldn't be a
> grab-bag of miscellaneous work, nor a year experiencing "business as
> usual" in Thunderbird development.
>  An example, (somewhat trivial and completely focussed on my own
> niggles with Thunderbird) would be a project to complete a set of
> bugfixes and enhancements to the Attachment pane UI for incorporation
> in an upcoming release. There are a set of bugs and RFE's already
> filed, and it's a reasonably self-contained part of the UI.
>  It's not important for the students to write new code for brand-new
> functionality. Some code maintenance and migration is perfectly fine,
> even a desirable experience, but I do think it's important that their
> projects are not dominated by migration or bugfix work. If it were,
> then I fear there could be limited opportunity for them to practice
> project management and/or they will lose interest.
>  Other projects up for offer in 2016, to give two examples for
> context, will be (1) making a DIY laser cutter with a usable software
> and network interfaces, and (2) making a 3-in-1 oscilloscope, function
> generator and digital multimeter with undergraduate-friendly UI for
> use in our teaching labs.
>  What I am asking from you for a Thunderbird project is for a useful
> project of about the right scope and difficulty to be identified, for
> a 1-page high-level spec to be prepared before 29 February (NZ time!)
> and for someone to commit to being acting as the client for the
> project over the year. I'd anticipate a time requirement of 1-2 hours
> per week over the course of the project to interact with the project
> team to answer the usual questions clients are asked (usually
> clarifying what the client actually wants).
>  One thing the School does advise external clients for these sorts of
> undergraduate projects is to not rely on the student team to produce a
> 100% functional working result, and to not entrust them with a project
> which is mission-critical. That's not to say that we haven't had some
> very successful projects in the past.
>  I'd love to hear ideas that people involved with Thunderbird
> development would have after considering what I've written above and
> I'd really like to have a Thunderbird project as part of our group
> project work this year!
> Regards,
> James.
> -- Dr. James Quilty Senior Lecturer School of Engineering and Computer
> Science, Victoria University of Wellington, P.O. Box 600, Wellington
> 6140, New Zealand. Phone: +64 4 463 5233 ext. 4090
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> tb-planning at mozilla.org
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