Senior Poster Session (Class of 2024)
Fall Senior Poster Session: November 28-30 @ 7:00pm-9:30pm (Science Center Computer Science Hallway)
The graduating class of 2024 must satisfy the capstone requirement of the CS major by registering and satisfactorily completing CPSC 099 (Senior Comprehensive). As part of CPSC 099, students will create a poster based on a project from a course taken in the Computer Science Department at Swarthmore or a summer research project with a Swarthmore CS faculty member. Students will present their poster at the poster session for CS senior majors (November 28-30, 2023). Courses taken off-campus or cross-listed from other departments are typically not eligible.
The poster session allows all students to design and present on a topic of their choice, which is an important goal for our culminating experience.
- The Requirements and Logistics sections of this page have more details.
- The Resources and Tips section has information to help with poster creation and printing.
- This page will be updated with an FAQ section so please look here first if you have questions.
We will hold three poster sessions in the CS hallway on the evenings of Tuesday, November 28 - Thursday, November 30, from 7:00pm - 9:30pm each night. You will be assigned to present your poster one of these evenings, and members of the CS faculty will grade your poster and presentation on the assigned night. You are required to attend the entire session (7:00-9:30 pm) of your assigned session to present your work, and you are encouraged to attend multiple evening sessions to see your peers' work presented. Other members of the Swarthmore community will be invited to attend the session.
You will be randomly assigned to present at one of the poster session dates. If you have a verifiable time conflict with one of the dates, you need to fill out the conflict form, by October 20 so that we can balance students across the sessions. When filling out the form, please specify the nature of your conflict. The expectation is that you will schedule around these dates. Acceptable conflicts are requirements that are beyond your control (e.g., participation in college athletic game/meet, theater or musical performance, etc).
You should print your poster at least one week before your scheduled presentation. Use the sign-up sheet to reserve a poster printing time with ITS. See below for resources on how to print.
Nov. 28 - 30: Attend your assigned poster session on your assigned evening, and deliver your poster to professors for grading. We encourage you to attend multiple sessions.
During your assigned session you should be in front of your poster, ready to present it to faculty and other attendees at the session. CS faculty will visit you and will grade your poster content and your poster presentation. When a faculty member arrives, you should be ready to discuss your poster project and answer questions about it. Each such presentation will be 7 minutes long, so practice presenting the ideas and work of your poster in about 6 minutes. You may also end up presenting to other attendees who are interested in your work.
All seniors will be automatically signed up for a zero-credit course, CPSC 099 (Senior Comprehensive), which represents participation in the poster session. To satisfy the requirements for the CS major, seniors must earn a satisfactory grade in CPSC 099. The grades will be assigned as S (satisfactory) or NC (unsatisfactory) only.
To earn an S grade, students are responsible for two "deliverables":
- a poster (details below)
- a well-prepared, practiced oral presentation accompanying the poster that is six to seven minutes long.
Students will present their posters to CS faculty members during their assigned poster session. Students can expect faculty to ask follow-up questions after your brief presentation.
Posters will be evaluated based on both the poster and the presentation.
Your poster should contain each of the following:
The title and author of your work. The author should be you. If you want to list information about the professor (and research project or class) on which your poster is based, you can add a small Acknowledgment blurb in the bottom right of your poster.
An overview with a high-level description of your central problem, hypothesis, or question. It should clearly state your objectives and the purpose of the project.
The background or context for your project. It should frame your project in relation to the broader area and include references to related work, when appropriate.
A description of what you did. That is, your methods, implementation, interesting solutions, and experiments. You should include any relevant figures to help explain complex content.
A summary of your results and the conclusions you've drawn from the project. Results should be presented in the appropriate format (e.g., graphs or tables quantitative data).
The design of your poster should:
Organize main parts with clear headings.
Use bullet points and phrases, and avoid verbosity in text. You do not want a poster that is a singular "wall of text."
Use a large font size for the most important topics and a smaller font for sub-topics. Don't make your fonts too small: the main parts of your poster should be readable from a few meters away.
Use pictures, diagrams, figures, and graphs to show parts of your system and/or results.
Have a logical flow of the story you want to tell about your work. Readers of your poster will begin in the upper-left of your poster and conclude at the bottom right. The main parts of your work should be near the top (center) and not in a bottom or side part of your poster.
Be designed so that anyone viewing it for one minute will leave with the big ideas what your project is. Anyone viewing it for a few minutes leaves with more detail.
Use a white background to save ink and improve legibility. Use color for graphs and figures, but don't go overboard. Too many colors can be distracting.
Keep the following points in mind when preparing your presentation:
Prepare enough content so that you speak for approximately six minutes.
Clearly and concisely explain each of the poster sections described above.
Assume that your audience has a background in CS but not necessarily the specific topic area you're presenting.
Answer any follow-up questions from the faculty.
Demonstrate clear organization and practice: do not memorize or read from a script; that's what the poster is there for.
Already know what you're planning to say (even though you haven't memorized it): don't just "wing it"!
Be aware of your audience members and their backgrounds and adjust your level of detail to match your audience.
Define your acronyms and avoid excessive jargon.
Maintain eye contact with your audience and respond to their social cues.
Each student will create a poster and present their poster individually.
- By October 20 fill out the senior poster session information form with your name, poster title, the CS course or summer research project on which your project is based, and any conflicts that you have with the poster session dates.
- Print your poster at least one week before your presentation. To accommodate a large number of posters being printed, your poster should be printed at least a week in advance. If you plan to print yours during the week before the poster sessions, sign up for a poster printing time with ITS: poster printing sign-up. See below for resources on how to print. We encourage you to print as early as you are ready. You can bring your printed poster to the department office to store before the poster session.
- Upload your poster in PDF format to this Google Drive at least two days before your presentation day.
- On your presentation day
- Between 5:00pm-6:30pm: Hang up your poster. You will be assigned a poster number. Hang your poster in its designated location by its number.
- Between 7:00pm-9:30pm: Attend your assigned poster session and deliver your presentation to professors for grading and to any other attendees.
- After 9:30pm: Remove your poster. You are welcome to keep your poster once you have presented it.
- On the other presentation days: We encourage you to attend the other nights to support your peers!
The topic you choose to present on must be based on one of the following:
A project you did in an upper-level class taught by the Computer Science department at Swarthmore that counts towards the major. The class must be at least one credit and have CPSC 035 as a prerequisite.
A one credit directed reading done with a Swarthmore CS professor that counts as towards the major.
A research project you did with a Swarthmore CS professor either during the semester or over the summer.
A project you did in a project-based class cross-listed by the Computer Science department at Swarthmore that counts as towards the Computer Science major. As they are currently taught, Engineering 072 (Computer Vision) and Engineering 082 (Mobile Robotics) fit this requirement.
Students wishing to present a poster on any other topic may petition the chair of department by email to request permission for an exception.
We strongly encourage students to present their work on an open-ended project from a project-based course. As currently taught, the following CS courses are project-based courses:
- CS 41 Algorithms
- CS 43 Networks
- CS 44 Databases
- CS 45 Operating Systems
- CS 46 Theory
- CS 49 Probabilistic Methods
- CS 56 Animation
- CS 63 Artificial Intelligence
- CS 65 NLP
- CS 66 Machine Learning
- CS 68 Bioinformatics
- CS 71 Software Engineering
- CS 73 Programming Languages
- CS 75 Compilers
- CS 81 Adaptive Robotics
- CS 87 Parallel and Distributed
- CS 88 Security and Privacy
- CS 89 Cloud Systems
- CS 91 Special Topics Courses in Theory/Systems/Applications
Students may choose to present on a project or assignment that was defined by a professor from another upper-level Swarthmore CS course. However, it may take more effort to put together a satisfactory poster for such a project. In such cases, students will want to add some general context describing how the project fits into main themes and topics of the course.
Posters should be 35"x48": 35 inches tall and 48 inches wide.
There are many good examples of posters in the CS hallway. As you view examples, look at poster layout, font size, and content. If after looking at a poster for a couple minutes you have a general idea of the project, its contribution, and its general solution and results, then it is a good example.
Links to Resources and Tips
- Designing Conference Posters by Colin Purrington. Guidelines for design, layout, content, etc. See the "Dos and Don'ts" advice. There are also example poster templates you can use.
- ITS documentation about printing posters
- Some more information about ITS printing, with a sample 35x48 poster template
- How to Create a Research Poster - A guide including design tips from NYU.
Q: How do I print my poster?
A: You will print it at ITS. Here is some more information from general ITS poster guidelines
Q: When does the poster need to be ready / how early should I print it?
A: Posters should be printed at least a week before the night you present. The earlier yours is ready, the better, since there will be many students wanting to print near the dates of the poster sessions. Students may store printed posters in the CS department in advance of the poster session dates.
If you plan to print the week before the presentations, you should sign-up for a poster printing time with ITS (see link above). ITS staff can help you print your poster. If you don't use their software for making your poster, print from a PDF version of your 35x48 poster.
Q: What do I do with my printed poster before the session?
A: You can leave it in the department office to store until your poster session. During the day of the session, come get your poster and hang it up.
Q: What if the project I'd like to choose was group work that I did with partners?
A: No problem! You will still create your own poster and present it by yourself. You and your group member(s) can choose the same topic. Ideally, you'd focus on different aspects of the project.
Q: How much time should I expect to put into this project?
A: We anticipate that you will spend approximately 10 hours throughout the semester.
Q: Why can't I use work I did off campus / at an REU / in another department?
A: We want to make sure 1) that you choose a topic for which at least one CS faculty member is an expert and 2) that the work you're presenting is consistent with the expectations of your fellow seniors. You may petition the chair of the department to request permission for an exemption.
Q: Can I use work done with a visiting professor who is no longer at Swarthmore?
A: Yes, as long as the project meets the requirements listed above, it doesn't matter if the professor is no longer at the College.
Q: What if I am away during the Fall semester?
A: Contact the department chair to figure out an alternate time for your poster session. Please do this before the scheduled Fall poster session.