I graduated from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA in June, 2004. Finally finished the computer science degree that I started in the eighties at Hampshire College in Massachusetts. Yeah, yeah… I know: what took me so long? Well, I had some living to do.
Evergreen is a very cool school. It has a progressive structure with written evaluations instead of grades. And, rather than conventional 4 credit classes, students take year-long, full-time programs taught by a team of faculty. During the 2003-2004 school year, I was in Student Originated Software, an intensive introduction to the ins and outs of Software Engineering. We studied advanced Object Oriented Programming (OOP) theory in Java, Object Oriented Analysis and Design (OOAD) using the Unified Modeling Language (UML), Design Patterns (from the Gang of Four book), read seminal papers and books on CS and SE theory. We read and discussed The Mythical Man Month by Fred Brooks as well as learning about the then very new Agile Methodologies.
But the high-point of SOS are the programming projects. Students divide into project groups in the Fall and spend a lot of time in spring and winter bringing their projects to fruition. I championed a project, found teammates, led the team, made crucial design decisions, and did the bulk of the coding. The project was called eze-com and it was an e-commerce web application with a twist: in addition to a Java-Servlet-based web application that served the content, eze-com comes with a client-side UI (written in Java, so it was cross-platform) with which the site owner could easily configure their site without knowing any HTML or how the web works.
Prior to the year in SOS, I did an independent contract on XML, in which I learned about DTDs, Schema, XSLT, XPath, general XML theory, and worked with with the Cocoon XML publishing framework for my final project. I also took an intensive summer course in C, took an Operating System Theory survey, and a half-time program in which I built an email-based article submission system for a Bangeldeshi tech news site using PHP and MySQL.
Here are pdfs of some of my papers from school.