I took part yesterday in a Thesis Committee meeting for a student
working on a project for her Masters degree in design. She is
designing a website with the purpose of facilitating a community for
female cancer victims. There was a fair amount of discussion
surrounding how far she must take the project to be granted the
degree. There were faculty members on the committee from other visual
arts disciplines, and they expect a thesis project to result in a
finished work of art. There was some discomfort in the suggestion that
the website would not have to be implemented and put into use for her
to complete her thesis and her degree.
While the student very much wants to build and launch the site and is
working on getting the sponsorship/funding and collaborators with the
necessary skill sets to make it a reality, it is my own opinion that
her thesis is much more about the process she followed and what she
has learned than it is about the final artifact. I and the other
design faculty argued that as long as the design was completed
satisfactorily, she could deliver her thesis and receive her degree
before implementation has finished.
I know that when I was working on my own Masters degree, there was no
expectation that my project would result in running software. With the
advances in web application development in recent years, and with
technologies such as Ruby on Rails and Flash making "running software"
a more accessible possibility to those without a degree in software
engineering, I wonder if expectations are increasing.
I'd like to hear what the IxDA community thinks about it.