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Course Policies :: 67-272

Spring 2020

This page contains information on policies specific to the 67-272 course and applicable only for the Spring 2020 semester. For general Information Systems program policies, please choose the Department Policies link below. This section contains material on:

Questions & Piazza
Concern for Students
Special Accommodations
TA Information


Grades in this course are determined by student performance in four areas: course projects (5 phases, worth 44% total), three examinations (2 midterms and a final exam, worth 42% overall), weekly labs beginning in week one (worth 10% total) and attendance, short in-class assignments, and quizzes (periodically; worth 4% total). Any grading curves, if deemed necessary, will be applied only to the final course score and not to individual assignments.

Exams and the labs are designed to be completed by individuals without the assistance of classmates or other students. In this class, students may not look at the code of other students or show their code to other students. The IS department has made a separate statement regarding the honesty and integrity policy in this course and students need to review this policy as soon as possible. The IS program considers academic integrity to be of great importance, we actively scan for cheating policy violations and will take swift and appropriate measures against those who fail to abide by these standards.

We will have small in-class assignments to do on a periodic basis. These assignments will not be announced in class beforehand; since regular attendance is the norm, this should not be an issue. (FYI: attendance is taken until 5 minutes after class starts. After that time a student is considered absent. Students have two excused absences before any grade penalty is applied.) A major purpose of these in-class assignments is for both students and faculty to be certain that key concepts are understood and can be applied to basic problems. There will be no make-up for missed in-class assignments but you can be excused with prior permission.

Details on the course projects can be found on a separate page on the site. Being able to deliver work products on-time is important in the world of information systems, and for that reason, we will be firm on the deadlines associated with class assignments. In many cases late submission will not be allowed because a solution set will be released shortly after the assignment is due. In cases where late submission is allowed, any project turned in within 24 hours of the due date will receive an automatic 20 percent penalty. In all cases, assignments more than 24 hours late will not be accepted without a special exemption from Professor Heimann.

The dates for the project this semester will be:

  • Phase 1: due January 23
  • Phase 2: due February 16
  • Phase 3: due March 15
  • Phase 4: due April 5
  • Phase 5: due May 1

Regrades: Any questions or concerns about grading must be directed to the Head TA responsible for grading for resolution before it can be taken to the professor. An entire statement regarding regrading for IS courses in general can be found in the department policies section and will be implemented here. Do not labor under the mistaken impression that you somehow special and therefore are exempt from this policy! If (and only if) you have followed the policy and are unhappy with the way the Head TA has handled your matter, you are welcome to take your case to the faculty. The faculty will want the Head TA's input before making a final decision (to be sure that we are fully informed when making the final decision), however, so any attempt to bypass the Head TA will be futile. If you attempt to do an end-run through the process, you will be sent back to discuss the matter with the Head TA. In the interest of fairness to all, we also reserve the right to lower grades further if we believe the TAs have been too generous in grading the assignment in question. (This has happened in the past so be forewarned.)

Grading Course Projects: Programming projects will be graded based on their correctness, completeness, and quality. We expect very high-quality work and attention to detail at all times in this course - it is up to you to see that this is so. We never want to see low-quality or mediocre work from any student. Carefully verify that your projects meet all stated specifications under a variety of test conditions and that they are eye appealing. Penalties will be assessed for errors, defects, and omissions based on their severity. Be aware that errors may cascade. Programs that are missing, substantially incomplete, do not load, do not run, or more than 24 hours late will be assessed penalties of 100%.


To help students master the material covered in class, we will have a series of hands-on lab assignments for students to complete, starting in week 1. These hands-on lab assignments must be started and completed during a scheduled lab session with either TAs or Prof. H. All labs are graded on a credit/no credit basis, depending on whether students completed the lab. (Come to lab each week, follow the instructions, and you get full credit -- very easy points to earn.)

Lab sessions are run by TAs Monday and Thursday evening from 7:30-9:30pm. Most labs are in the Wean IS Lab (5336). Students must attend the lab section they are registered for, but each student has two 'switch coupons' that allow them to switch sections without penalty. To use your coupon, you must contact the Head TA for labs by Sunday 6:00pm of the week you want to switch and notify him/her of your intentions. (This gives us time to restaff a lab if the expected attendance is higher than normal.)

Students are allowed one missed lab with no penalty (students who complete all labs get extra credit). Students are expected to be in lab on time; if students are tardy (arriving more than 2 minutes past the start time) for lab, they will be considered absent for the teaching segment at the beginning of lab and receive only half credit for that lab. Each lab session is two hours long, but the labs themselves can be completed in less time, depending on the student. No lab work done in advance will be accepted -- all work must be completed during the lab period. If you show up with a completed lab you will receive a zero for the lab unless you delete the files in the presence of the TAs and begin again from scratch.

Questions & Piazza

Students are strongly encouraged to ask questions during class. The material can be tricky at times and we expect questions to be asked during lectures. Odds are that if you have a question, someone else is wondering the same thing; if no one asks then the mystery remains a mystery. In a few cases in the past, the question is on a more obscure technical point that interests very few in the class -- in those cases, Prof. H may choose to defer and answer the questioner after class so that the rest of the students are not bored or confused, but the question will be answered.

This term we will be using Piazza for class discussion and questions you might have outside of class. The system is highly catered to getting you help fast and efficiently from classmates, the TAs, and the professor. Rather than emailing questions to the teaching staff, we encourage you to post your questions on Piazza. The Head TAs will be monitoring Piazza every day and no question should go more than 24 hours without being answered (in most cases, much sooner). Do not send questions via email to the TAs without first checking Piazza to see if an answer has already been posted. In cases where the answer has already been posted. they simply tell you to go back to Piazza. If you email new questions that are not of a personal nature (like grades, standing in class) the TAs may ask you to post it on Piazza so they can answer it for everyone.

Find our Piazza class page at: https://piazza.com/cmu/spring2019/67272/home

If you have any problems or feedback for the developers of Piazza, please send an email to mailto:team@piazza.com

For the record, Professor Heimann is only half-Klingon. Hence, you can safely ask questions in class or during office hours without being worried about him 'killing you where you stand for asking your question.'


Below are listed two books assigned for this course, but I recognize that there are other books that teach the necessary concepts that could be used as a substitute. However, not getting any suitable references or delaying the purchase until much later in the semester represents a substantial risk and students should consider that decision carefully. I expect students to read the relevant sections of their texts in a timely manner. You can and will be tested on the reading -- even the parts I don't explicitly cover in class.

Other books I recommend for this class are:

I have provided links to Amazon for each of these books, but there are multiple sources for each online and at a variety of price points. Students may purchase these books from any source they prefer.


Because laptops, tablets, and cellphones can be a distraction to students during class (to yourself and those around you) we will follow a policy similar to the MISM program and ban the use of laptops and similar electronic devices by students during class. There may be exceptions when you will need to do an exercise in class that requires a laptop -- you will be notified in advance if that is the case. Otherwise, please leave laptops in your book bags and turn all cell phones to silent mode prior to the start of class and leave them in your pockets or purses. (One exception: during exams, all cellphones must be turned off and left on top of your desk; cell phones cannot be taken out of the room during exams and will remain in the room during any restroom breaks.)

Concern for Students

All of us benefit from support during times of struggle. You are not alone. There are many helpful resources available on campus and an important part of the college experience is learning how to ask for help. Asking for support sooner rather than later is often helpful.

If you or anyone you know experiences any academic stress, difficult life events, or feelings like anxiety or depression, we strongly encourage you to seek support. Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) is here to help: call 412-268-2922 and visit their website at http://www.cmu.edu/counseling/. Consider reaching out to a friend, faculty or family member you trust for help getting connected to the support that can help.

Special Accommodations

If you have a disability and have an accommodations letter from the Disability Resources office, I encourage you to discuss your accommodations and needs with me as early in the semester as possible. I will work with you to ensure that accommodations are provided as appropriate. If you suspect that you may have a disability and would benefit from accommodations but are not yet registered with the Office of Disability Resources, I encourage you to contact them at access@andrew.cmu.edu.


I maintain office hours that are run strictly on a first come, first served basis. However, I am available for appointments on other days and welcome students to stop in at other times without an appointment; if I am busy with something else at the moment then we will set up an appointment to talk at a more convenient time. Contact information is listed below:

  • Professor Heimann
  • Office: Hamburg 3001
  • Phone: 8-8211
  • Hours: Wed 3:30-5:30pm; Thurs 4:15-6:30pm; Tues 3:30-4:15pm (or later*)

Please note that office hours are subject to change and will likely change in the second half of the semester. *Also note that the first and third Tuesdays of every month I have Faculty Senate or University Student Affairs Council meetings, so have the end at 4:15pm, but will stay until 6pm on other Tuesdays.

Teaching Assistants

Below is a list of the Head TAs this semester and their primary areas of responsibility:

If you have a concern, please talk with the TA primarily responsible for that concern. However, if you have difficulty getting ahold of that TA you may reach out to another TA. These TAs work as a team and any of them can help you in a pinch, but if the situation is not an emergency or urgent, do not be surprised if they refer you to the appropriate TA for that issue.

Lab TAs are primarily there to help with labs and answer questions on labs. They may be able to help with the project or other course-related questions, but for the most part, those questions should either be put on piazza or asked of the appropriate Head TA.

The instructor reserves the right to make modifications to materials in this syllabus during the term as circumstances warrant.