Stumbled across a 2008 ASEE paper on "A semi-automatic approach for project assignment in a capstone course" written by two of my Olin professors a few years back, and pondered the differences between that and CATME, the equivalent bit of software at Purdue. Disclaimer: I've used CATME as a student; I have not used the SCOPE-o-matic Allocator (which is what I'm going to call the Olin program because the paper does not give it a catchy name). The following is based largely on reading papers about how each program works.

Both are software programs made to assist professors in the tedious task of team selection, which is a complicated and highly subjective process that needs human input and oversight, but nevertheless relies on lots of tedious data-pushing best automated away so the humans can use their brains to, y'know, think. Very similar. Except one was made as a quick project by two faculty members at a tiny (300-undergrad) engineering college, and the other is a massive research project done by an entire team at a university 200 times the size - Purdue graduates more engineering students every year than Olin has ever enrolled in its entire existence to date.

So the SCOPE-o-Matic is, in effect, mini-CATME. Or rather, CATME is SCOPE-o-Matic on steroids. Both let you select and sort by a variety of hard and soft criteria; not just technical binaries like "do you code yes/no," but things like "how comfortable are you with writing?" Both try to get the tedious stuff out of the way and narrow down the options so the final call can be made by human beings, with all the lovely squishy judgement abilities we have in our heads but not in our computers.

Similarities end there. The SCOPE-o-Matic's data entry is done by teachers; CATME has students enter all their data. This makes sense. When you're processing thousands of first-years, they know themselves way better than you do, and besides, do you really want to do that data entry? But when you've worked with 80 seniors for the past 3 years, you may have noticed things about them that they don't know (or don't want to admit) quite yet; the collaborative judgements of multiple mentors are likely to end up with a more accurate triangulation than the self-perception of a 21-year-old.

Then there are extra features. CATME asks students to put their schedules in, and tells teachers (when picking teams) and students (when receiving them) how much and when their mutual free times are, which is nice. It can also be used to survey students on team dynamics throughout and after the course, a feature SCOPE-o-Matic doesn't have. Then again, Olin classes are tiny, and it's humanly possible for a professor to sit down for "marriage counseling"with each of the 6-10 teams in his class in the span of a week. At Purdue? You'd never have time for anything else.

Different strokes for different institutions. It's neat to see how the same idea adapts and springs up independently in multiple schools.

[0] Yes, Mark Chang actually called it marriage counseling. As I recall, my Computer Architecture team was a dysfunctional polygamous triad where all three members were in open relationships (had other team projects going on that semester) and had serious problems with the division of child-rearing (completing our labs) when people intermittently went deadbeat and refused to pay child support. The three of us remain good friends to this day, but we learned some hard lessons about team dynamics that semester: good friends don't automatically make good teammates.