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ICSE 2023
Sun 14 - Sat 20 May 2023 Melbourne, Australia

Capstone courses in undergraduate software engineering are a critical final milestone for students. These courses allow students to create a software solution and demonstrate the knowledge they accumulated in their degrees. However, a typical capstone project team is small containing no more than 5 students and function independently from other teams. To better reflect real-world software development and meet industry demands, we introduce in this paper our novel capstone course. Each student was assigned to a large-scale, multi-team (i.e., company) of up to 20 students to collaboratively build software. Students placed in a company gained first-hand experiences with respect to multi-team coordination, integration, communication, agile, and teamwork to build a microservices based project. Furthermore, each company was required to implement plug-and-play so that their services would be compatible with another company, thereby sharing common APIs. Through developing the product in autonomous sub-teams, the students enhanced not only their technical abilities, but also their soft skills such as communication and coordination. More importantly, experiencing the challenges that arose from the multi-team project trained students to realize the pitfalls and advantages of organizational culture. Among many lessons learned from this course experience, students learned the critical importance of building team trust. We provide detailed information about our course structure, lessons learned, and propose recommendations for other universities and programs. Our work concerns educators interested in launching similar capstone projects so that students in other institutions can reap the benefits of large-scale, multi-team development.