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Catalogue Description

Academy capstone experience, innovative projects leading to operational prototypes and viable enterprises, mentored by faculty and industry experts.

This capstone course comprises exploration, experimentation, and self-directed work on projects assigned in Academy courses. The course also includes labs, workshops, demos, and formative and summative critiques that students will propose and help structure. The Garage is a unique state-of-the-art facility with cutting-edge technology and mentored support. Students will build skills to develop innovative project proposals and produce operational prototypes. They have access to cutting edge hardware, software and mechanical tools for the production of prototypes, promotional materials and the development of professional presentations. Faculty from a variety of disciplines, industry experts and visionaries, and peer mentors will work with students to help them conceptualize their ideas and test their work with authentic audiences and consumers. Students will have an opportunity to “pitch” their ideas to potential employers, patrons, sponsors, and/or funding entities.

In Garage Experience I, taught in the fall semester, students will focus on in-depth development of multidisciplinary, team-based projects, culminating in a working prototype or finished product, service, or process. In Garage Experience II, taught in the spring semester, students will finalize their projects and will “pitch” their idea to potential employers, patrons, sponsors or funding entities.

Learning Outcomes
By the completion of this course, students will be able to

  1. Fabricate products and plan and launch services, and articulate processes
  2. Communicate ideas using multiple modalities including time-based and static images and graphical representations
  3. Facilitate and glean data from focus groups
  4. Develop market-vetted promotional and educational materials
  5. Understand the concepts behind supply chain theory and application
  6. Prepare a financial pro forma to inform business decisions

Course Notes

Prerequisite(s): ACAD 377a, 377b
Co-Requisite(s): none
Concurrent Enrollment: none
Recommended Preparation: Other Academy coursework.
**Other: ** Students will work, solo or in teams, with faculty project advisors, course instructors, and other expert consultants, as appropriate. Class meets twice weekly in the Garage, but some teams may convene off-site or in other workspaces some of the time.

Technological Proficiency and Hardware/Software Required

Varies by project.

Required Readings and Supplementary Materials

Varies by project.

Description and Assessment of Assignments

Primary work for the course is the conceptualization, planning, and execution of an innovation project approved in advance by Academy faculty.

55 percent of course grade based on final "product" and 3 critiques by panel of faculty graded on A (excellent), B (good), C (satisfactory), F (unsatisfactory) scale:

  • Midterm faculty critique of presentation of problem reformulation (week 5)
  • Midterm faculty critique of presentation of "deliverable 0" (week 9)
  • Final faculty critique of presentation and product at semester's end (week 15)

Additional work product and process graded by instructors and project advisors includes: (1) research plan and memo; (3) weekly journey blog; (4) professionalism, attendance, participation, project management, and collegial contributions

Grading Breakdown
The grading for the Garage Experience course has three components:

  • Deliverables/Artifacts/Outputs 60%
  • Performance/Activity 20%
  • Process 20%
What % of Course Grade Graded by
Deliverables/Artifacts/Outputs (60%)
End of semester product 20% Faculty
End of semester critique 20% Faculty
Mid-semester critique 10% Faculty
Deliverable 0 critique 10% Faculty
Performance/Activity (20%)
Objectives meeting or exceeding expectations 5% Advisor
Average weekly booked hours 5% Instructors
Collegial contributions 10% Instructors
Process (20%)
#WhereDidTheTimeGo Memos 4% Instructors
Research Plan and Memo 4% Advisor/Instructors
Journey Blog Posts 4% Instructors
Advisor Checkins and Milestone Meetings 4% Advisors
Class Attendance 4% Instructors

Grading Scales and Assignment Rubrics

The grading scales for the Garage Experience assignments are shown below.

Deliverables/Artifacts/Outputs (60%)
What % of Course Grade Graded by Level of Achievement Grade
End of semester product 20% Faculty Excellent A
Good B
Satisfactory C
Unsatisfactory F
End of semester Critique 20% Faculty Excellent A
Good B
Satisfactory C
Unsatisfactory F
Deliverable 0 Critique 10% Faculty Excellent A
Good B
Satisfactory C
Unsatisfactory F
Problem 0.2 Critique 10% Faculty Excellent A
Good B
Satisfactory C
Unsatisfactory F
Performance/Activity (20%)
Objectives meeting or exceeding expectations 5% Advisor 80%+ A
71-80% B
51-70% C
under 50% F
Average weekly booked hours 5% Instructors 22+ A
20-21.9 B
16-19.9 C
under 16 F
Collegial contributions 10% Instructors Top %ile hours donated, top %ile peer eval, top % public good blog posts, top %ile instructor observation A
Noticeable and remarked upon B
Satisfactory but unremarkable C
Not a part of your GX F
Process (20%)
#WhereDidTheTimeGo Memos 4% Instructors All (15/15) A
13-14 B
12 or fewer F
- -
Research Plan and Memo 4% Advisor/Instructors Excellent A
Good B
Satisfactory C
Unsatisfactory F
Advisor Checkins and Milestone Meetings 4% Advisors All, professionally handled, etc. A
Most, professionally handled, etc. B
Many not D
Unsatisfactory F
Journey Blog Posts 4% Instructors 14+ A
10-13 B
<10 F
- -
Class Attendance 4% Instructors 100% A
90-99% B
<90% F
- -

Assignment Submission Policy

Weekly checkins with faculty project advisor (including hours report) to be completed by 5pm Friday of each week) submitted via mechanism agreed to with project advisor and instructor. Journey blog update due Saturday 11:59 p.m. submitted via Slack. Prototypes, presentations and critiques per syllabus schedule.

Grading Timeline

This course features continuous feedback from instructors, project advisors, mentors, and peers. Feedback on written work and ongoing work performance from instructors and project advisors. Feedback and grading of presentations by panel of faculty and/or outside experts. All intermediate grades will be posted within one week of due date.

Additional Policies

Course schedule indicates sessions and events for which attendance is mandatory. Students are expected to be punctual to all sessions and events.

Course Structure
This course meets formally for 200 minutes, twice a week with the expectation of an additional 16 hours of outside work per week. Most classroom time is dedicated to project work — exploration, experimentation, research, and self-directed work on projects that build on previous Academy courses. The course also includes labs, workshops, demos, and formative and summative critiques designed in conjunction with members of the class. A general framework of major milestones and objectives and key results will be adapted to individual projects.

The default participation expectations is that students use class time not allocated to critiques or group activities to work in the Garage on individual projects.

Academic Conduct

Plagiarism – presenting someone else’s ideas as your own, either verbatim or recast in your own words – is a serious academic offense with serious consequences. Please familiarize yourself with the discussion of plagiarism in SCampus in Part B, Section 11, “Behavior Violating University Standards” policy.usc.edu/scampus-part-b. Other forms of academic dishonesty are equally unacceptable. See additional information in SCampus and university policies on scientific misconduct, http://policy.usc.edu/scientific-misconduct.

Support Systems

Student Counseling Services (SCS) – (213) 740-7711 – 24/7 on call
Free and confidential mental health treatment for students, including short-term psychotherapy, group counseling, stress fitness workshops, and crisis intervention. engemannshc.usc.edu/counseling

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1 (800) 273-8255
Provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Services (RSVP) – (213) 740-4900 – 24/7 on call
Free and confidential therapy services, workshops, and training for situations related to gender-based harm. engemannshc.usc.edu/rsvp

Sexual Assault Resource Center
For more information about how to get help or help a survivor, rights, reporting options, and additional resources, visit the website: sarc.usc.edu

Office of Equity and Diversity (OED)/Title IX Compliance – (213) 740-5086
Works with faculty, staff, visitors, applicants, and students around issues of protected class. equity.usc.edu

Bias Assessment Response and Support
Incidents of bias, hate crimes and microaggressions need to be reported allowing for appropriate investigation and response. studentaffairs.usc.edu/bias-assessment-response-support

The Office of Disability Services and Programs
Provides certification for students with disabilities and helps arrange relevant accommodations. dsp.usc.edu

Student Support and Advocacy – (213) 821-4710
Assists students and families in resolving complex issues adversely affecting their success as a student EX: personal, financial, and academic. studentaffairs.usc.edu/ssa

Diversity at USC
Information on events, programs and training, the Diversity Task Force (including representatives for each school), chronology, participation, and various resources for students. diversity.usc.edu

USC Emergency Information
Provides safety and other updates, including ways in which instruction will be continued if an officially declared emergency makes travel to campus infeasible. emergency.usc.edu

USC Department of Public Safety – UPC: (213) 740-4321 – HSC: (323) 442-1000 – 24-hour emergency or to report a crime.
Provides overall safety to USC community. dps.usc.edu


Weekly Schedule

Each student or team will develop a work plan that articulates with a common framework of milestones at weeks 2, 5, 9, 11, and 15 and includes a set of team-defined objectives and observable results. Additional formative assessments of work in progress will be scheduled with instructors, course and peer mentors, and outside consultants.

PLEASE NOTE: Faculty project advisor check ins and Milestone meetings are scheduled, by default, on Wednesdays but each team/advisor will arrange these by mutual convenience. Attendance at all these meetings is mandatory so please schedule wisely. Course instructors will look for updates weekly so meetings should happen before Friday 5 p.m.

NOTE: Final presentations to be scheduled during USC exam week, May 2-9, 2018. Remember that university policy says "No student is permitted to omit or take early a final examination and no instructor is authorized to permit a student to do so. Students should plan in advance to avoid scheduling conflicts in their final examinations." Exam slots for this course fall on 5/2, 5/4, and 5/7.

Phase I Flight Plan


Monday 1/8


Wednesday 1/10




Monday 1/15

What's Due

Wednesday 1/17


Phase II Taking Off and Reaching Altitude


Monday 1/22



Wednesday 1/24



Monday 1/29


Wednesday 1/31



Monday 2/5


Wednesday 2/7


Phase III Cruising Altitude


Monday 2/12


Wednesday 2/14



Monday 2/19

What's Due

Wednesday 2/21



Monday 2/26


Wednesday 2/28



Monday 3/5


Wednesday 3/7


Phase IV Descent


Monday 3/12


Wednesday 3/14



Monday 3/26


Wednesday 3/28



Monday 4/2


Wednesday 4/4



Monday 4/9


Wednesday 4/11


Phase V Landing This Thing


Monday 4/16


Wednesday 4/18



Monday 4/23


Wednesday 4/25



Monday 4/30

What's Due

Wednesday 5/2

What's Due


Monday 5/7

What's Due

Wednesday 5/9

What's Due