CDS Spark! Labs Affiliated Courses

Spark! is responsible for providing students with opportunities to engage in real world computing and data science projects as part of a diverse set of experiential learning offerings. These opportunities include courses where students can pursue their own innovation projects (Spark! Fellowship XCC475) with the support of external mentors or classes affiliated with the CDS/ Spark! X-Lab where students work on projects provided by external partners who provide guidance and mentorship alongside Spark!’s team of project managers. 

Additionally, we offer 1 credit workshops where students can build their knowledge around specific topics relevant to real-world application of computing and data science.

The following list of courses are courses associated with the CDS/Spark! Student Experiential Learning Pathways for the Fall 2022 semester.

Fall 2022 Courses

XCC 410: Justice Media co-Lab
Instructors: Brooke Williams

The Justice Media co-Lab, a collaboration between BU Spark!, based at the Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences, and the Journalism Department at the BU College of Communication, matches interdisciplinary student teams with a background in computer science, statistics, computer engineering, or data science or journalism related disciplines with computational journalism projects provided by external media partners. 

Projects vary in size and scope and range from smaller projects that are approximately 60 hours of work to larger projects that can be as much as 100 hours of work per team member over the course of a semester. Projects are comprised of teams of approximately 3 computer science or engineering students and require partner organizations to dedicate approximately 45 minutes per week for the 8-12 weeks of project implementation.

XCC 410 B1: DS4G: Housing Justice 
Instructors: Langdon White + Ethan Macoomb

Data Science for Good (DS4G): Housing, Displacement & Justice enables students to tackle real world data challenges related to more equitable and just housing access. Students will work in teams on client-based projects, engaging with a wide range of potential stakeholders, including government agencies, nonprofits and researchers to iterate and produce usable data sets, tools, and research that address pressing questions. Students will develop computational and analytical skills working with messy, real-world data to yield meaningful, reproducible, and defensible insights, while gaining an understanding of the national and local housing affordability crisis. Desk research and stakeholder interviews will help students understand the root causes of housing instability, barriers to homeownership, and remedies to reduce displacement and improve access.

XCC 475: Spark! Fellowship
Instructors: Ziba Cranmer, James Grady, and Richard Kasperowski

The Spark! Fellowship program is dedicated to catalyzing Boston University student innovators passionate about solving problems through technology. If you have an idea you want to take to the next level, Spark! offers a structured process and technical support for students to work independently to advance a technology project of their own creation. The program includes instructional components that cover key topics relevant to the process of technology product development process, including user-centered design, prototyping, agile development processes, and more. Spark! Fellows have two options for participating in this program: for class credit or a paid on-campus internship both of which aim to provide the time, structure, and support needed to complete a working prototype by the end of a semester. Students will also have priority access to a collaborative co-working space and technical mentors to guide them through the product creation process. The experience is designed to foster interaction and peer feedback among the teams and help students access the full set of innovation resources available across the Innovate@BU ecosystem.

BU Spark! offers students two options for participating in the Innovation Fellowship Program including class credit or a paid on-campus Spark! internship. The experience and requirements for the fellowship are the same regardless of which option a student chooses to complete the fellowship.

Course Details

  • Innovation and UX Design Fellowship is available for credit via XC475 – Group D CS 
  • Innovation and UX Design Fellowship also offers a limited number of paid opportunities
  • Course is held on Mondays 2:30-5:15pm; 4.0 credits (Computer Science or HUB)
  • Applications are required for both the course and paid internships options; the application process includes student interviews. 
    • Round One Deadline: April 30, 2022 
    • Round Two Deadline: May 15, 2022 

CS 506: Computational Tools For Data Science
Instructors: Lance Galletti

Covers practical skills in working with data and introduces a wide range of techniques that are commonly used in the analysis of data, such as clustering, classification, regression, and network analysis. Emphasizes hands-on application of methods via programming. Effective Fall 2019, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Research and Information Literacy, Teamwork/Collaboration.

CDS DS 219: Spark! Software Engineering Career Prep Practicum
Instructors: Sally O’Malley and Bandan Das
Wed. 2:30 PM – 4:15 PM

Taught by industry software veterans who serve as Spark! Engineers in Residence in CDS, this 2-credit course presents students with an unadulterated view of what they need to know as they take on software engineering projects, in preparation for careers as full-stack software/data engineers. From a brass tacks perspective, the course covers a number of tactical topics. The course covers the language of modern software development including patterns, source control, pull requests, open source, containerization, virtualization, and agile vs waterfall development methods. Additionally, the course introduces students to a few of the specialized professional software engineering and DevOps roles in industry.

CDS DS 519: Spark! Software Engineering X-Lab Practicum
Instructor: TBD
Tues, Thurs 5:00 PM – 6:15 PM

The X- Lab Software Engineering Practicum affords students opportunities to work on real-world projects, thus highlighting some of the challenges unique to working on a substantive software project. Ultimately, we hope to bridge the gap between computer science and software engineering, through project-based learning.

We will divide our discussion into 3 parts:

  1. Software definition, teamwork, and management
  2. Design and development
  3. Delivery and maintenance

To learn more and review the syllabus, click here.

CDS DS 549: Spark! Machine Learning X-Lab Practicum
Instructor: TBD
Tues, Thurs 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM

Traditional machine learning (ML) courses underemphasize—or in some cases—eschew software engineering principles, to ensure beginners focus their attention on developing a solid understanding of ML. While justifiable, this practice perpetuates an ever-widening gap between industry expectations and student skills.

The X-Lab Machine Learning Practicum affords students opportunities to work on real-world, semester-long projects while highlighting architectural, infrastructural, and foundational considerations involved in building and shipping an enterprise machine learning pipeline. Ultimately, we hope to bridge the aforementioned gap between computer science and ML engineering, through project-based learning.

We will divide our discussion into 4 parts:

  1. Teamwork and project management
  2. Problem definition, data preprocessing, and exploratory research
  3. Designing and developing ML pipelines
  4. Delivery and maintenance

To learn more and review the syllabus, click here


CDS DS 280 Spark! UX/UI Design Workshop
Instructors: Matt Carano and Lisa Lyman
Wed 4:30 pm – 6:15 pm

User experience design (UX) and user interface engineering (UI) is the design of user interfaces and visualization for computer, information, and data products focusing on maximizing usability and the user experience. Students complete a series of activities within the UX Design toolkit developed by BU Spark! in collaboration with the Red Hat UX Design team. Course covers basic steps of the UX Design process, beginning with user insights and problem definition, empathy maps around personas, to user stories and lo-fidelity wireframes or story maps, to brand design and high fidelity wireframes. Effective Spring 2022, this course fulfills a single unit in the following BU Hub area: Digital/Multimedia Expression.

CDS DS 291 Spark! Exploring DEI in Tech
Instructor: TBD
Wed 10:10 – 11:55 AM

This workshop will explore topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) in the technology sector. The course will implement the theory and practice of DEIJ across the tech sector. Students will start by gaining a foundational understanding of the concepts of identity, intersectionality, and inclusive dialogue. They will then apply this framework to understand issues of DEIJ in the tech sector in Academia and business, and the different technology domains from AI to hardware. The second part of the course will be focused on allyship and action and includes a final project where students will use an intersectional lens to assess a problem they are passionate about and develop solutions they believe can have impact. Through this course, students will learn how to engage in and facilitate impactful discussions about diversity, equity, inclusion and justice.

CDS DS 299 A1 Spark! Continuing Fellowship
Instructor: Ziba Cranmer
Thu 6:30 – 8:15 PM

**instructor permission