ICS 314: Software Engineering I

ICS 314 is a fast-paced immersion into significant software engineering concepts and technologies. It incorporates the following themes:

The course grounds these thematic elements by covering the skills necessary to quickly build two-tier web applications with a modern look-and-feel. Many computer science and computer engineering projects benefit from a web-based user interface, and this class will help you to create a nice one regardless of your “design” background.

Who should take this course

This course is intended for undergraduates in computer science or computer engineering who have a working knowledge of Java or C++ and who want to invest effort into developing their software engineering skill set.

A significant component of the course is a student-selected final project to showcase the techniques learned during the course.


ICS 314 is structured as a sequential series of modules, most taking approximately a week to complete. Each module has the following structure:

Prior results

While ICS software engineering requires discipline and effort, the results appear to be worth the investment. Here are some recent course evaluation comments:

The course not only provides the tools and skills needed for Computer Science students to produce content but also introduces us to the social aspect we as programmers will have to understand in order to work in groups later in life. (Spring, 2019)

Overall, the course takes a different direction than the typical class would. The course is similar to conditioning yourself for a sport. It takes a lot of time and effort from the student initially, but as time goes on, the results show. At the start of the course, the time pressure of the assignments made me tense and clumsy, but the practices and material provided helped steel me into a LEAN, MEAN, FIERCE COMPUTER ATHLETE, WHO DOESN’T FLINCH AT THE SIGHT OF A WOD. The project period is also a time of revelation. (Spring, 2018)

The course teaching style and format were innovative and effective at maintaining a rigorous yet intriguing pace of learning. Dr. Johnson’s Athletic Software Engineering pedagogy – specifically the concept of WODs – was tremendously stimulating and efficient at fostering class learning. (Fall, 2017)

I enjoyed this course very much. Though it may have caused me some stress along the way, there was never a moment when the amount of effort I put in didn’t result in a satisfying reward. It teaches you much more beyond coding and shapes you as a future computer scientist. I really feel as if it has been a significant stepping stone in the journey towards my career, whatever that may turn out to be. (Fall, 2016)

On the other hand, some students find the workload to be stressful, as shown by this comment:

A very spirited instructor, sometimes too spirited. The constant requirements for the class both with studying materials and programming can be overwhelming to a student of typical course & out of school load (other classes and work/family obligations). (Fall, 2009)

For additional student perspectives on Philip Johnson’s teaching style, please see his unedited course evaluations since 2007, with hundreds of comments (both positive and negative).