Sat Mar 22 15:22:13 EDT 2014
Demo days begin May 6, which is barely six weeks away, so it's time to get real serious about projects.
From now until the end of classes, you must meet once each week with your TA for about half an hour. This requirement encourages you to think about what you have done and what you're going to do next. It's a chance to talk things through, and get advice and opinion from someone supportive who is looking over your shoulder. The TA's job is not to solve your technical problems, however, and it's certainly not to tell you what to do -- it's your project. But pay attention, especially if your TA is concerned about something.
Everyone must come to all meetings if at all possible. If you absolutely must be away, courtesy and a concern for your grade mandates sending an explanation well before the meeting. Unannounced absences, and especially total no-shows, are unacceptable.
Be prepared. It's a good idea to meet among yourselves the day before your TA meeting (and certainly sooner than 5 minutes before), and even to prepare a couple of written paragraphs ahead of time. Thinking about and organizing for your meetings will pay off. The TA's are looking for you to be obviously prepared, with an organized agenda, and volunteering information; they should not have to drag things out of you, and they will definitely be unhappy if you're clearly just winging it with no evidence of effort ahead of time.
Everyone should be participating, engaged, and contributing. It should not be one or two people doing all the talking while others sit passively or fall asleep.
Given the short time scale, there really has to be progress every week. The TA's will be looking for evidence that you're getting somewhere, though of course there will be setbacks and dead ends; we just want to make sure those are under control.
We're also looking for evidence of planning, that you have a clear idea of what the next steps are each time. Fuzzy ideas or more of the same ("We're still working on getting the bugs out") are not a good sign.
Of course in return, you have every right to expect that the TA's will meet you at the scheduled time, will also be well prepared, will have been thinking about your project, and will do their best to advise you well.