—Monique Candelaria as Lucy in “Live Free or Die”, Breaking Bad
Starting next month, I will be teaching two capstone courses at ASU. Based on my background and body of work, both the undergraduate programs in Computer Information Systems (CIS) and Business Data Analytics (BDA) are right up my alley. I’m downright psyched to get started.
These capstone courses—CIS440 and CIS450, respectively—are designed to provide seniors with valuable real-world experience. That is, they will put theory into practice. Students will apply their newfound knowledge to solve pressing business problems and answer important questions.
To this end, I’m looking for interesting projects for my new students. If you are interested in offering a meaningful project around technology and/or analytics, then keep reading.
What’s in it for potential project sponsors?
I see quite a few benefits for sponsors. For one, these projects let them tap into the minds of eager, knowledgeable students. What’s more, sponsors can acquaint themselves with potential future hires. (Why not date before getting married, right?) Finally, these capstone projects represent a way to give back to the ASU community.
And did I mention that it’s free?
Details and Logistics
Although there’s no monetary cost, it is important that all sponsors take these commitments and projects seriously. This means devoting the requisite time to students. Answer their questions. Provide guidance where needed. Expect regular interactions; this is no “set-it-and-forget-it” type of project. Finally, sponsors will need to complete questionnaires at the end of the semester. That data will help me grade my students.
- New and established startups
- Small, medium, and large companies
- Even a lone founder with nothing more than wireframes of his intended app
Here’s a table with some examples:
Specific Projects and Process
Past projects have run the gamut. Here are some examples of projects that students have completed:
- An innovation portal for a Fortune 100 company
- Helping a chiropractor expand his business via a more robust and interactive website
- An RFID-based attendance tracker for ASU
- An auction website for the Phoenix Coyotes
- A souped-up search engine for an auto-parts company
- An enhanced website that digitizes forms for a law firm
- A mobile app for the Mayo Clinic to diagnose prostrate cancer
- Helping ASU’s Tutoring Center make better use of its tutors
- Looking at ASU’s sustainability ratings and identifying areas in which it can improve its rating
- For a large company, determining the key causes of turnover among salespeople
- For a large company, determining the effectiveness of employee-referral programs
- Making parking recommendations based upon ASU survey data
Here are some additional details:
- Students will work in teams of four to six over a 15-week period.
- They will use the knowledge that they’ve gained during their undergraduate studies
- They will learn new tools to complete their projects.
Sponsors must provide students with timely and constructive feedback.
In keeping with Agile methods, throughout the semester, students present several working demos of their work as it emerges. That is, you and I will see project progress well before final student presentations in December or May. To this end, sponsors must provide students with timely and constructive feedback. If you’re unwilling or unable to do this, then it’s not a good fit.
Historically, many successful projects have been of the greenfield variety. As I know all too well, enhancements and extensions to existing projects can be challenging. Even the brightest students—and seasoned professionals for that matter—typically face significant learning curves when dealing with mature apps and methodologies. My students are very smart, but it’s nearly impossible to for them to completely “hit the ground running.” If you don’t understand this, then we’re not a good fit.
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