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
The W. P. Carey School has been offering capstone projects for years. To this end, past projects have run the gamut. We have done the dozens of projects (couldn’t resist) with a wide variety of sponsors. Here are just a few examples of neat ones that students have successfully completed:
- Building an Alexa-powered assistant for a large financial institution. (Yeah, this one was pretty freaking neat.)
- Building an an innovation portal and an iOS mobile app for a Fortune 100 company
- Building an auction website for the Phoenix Coyotes
- Helping a local chiropractor expand his business via a more robust and interactive website
- Building a mobile app and RFID-based attendance tracker for ASU
- Creating a souped-up search engine for an auto-parts company
- Building responsive, sleek websites for many local business owners
- Building an enhanced website that digitizes forms for a law firm
- Building a mobile app for the Mayo Clinic to diagnose prostate cancer
- Anthony Robles’ website. Before and after are night and day.
- For a large company, determining the key causes of turnover among salespeople and the effectiveness of employee-referral programs
- Helping a large company organize unstructured data via ontologies
- Helping a large semiconductor company understand its shipping and logistics data
- Helping ASU’s W. P. Carey Tutoring Center optimize its tutor schedules
- Looking at ASU’s sustainability ratings and identifying areas in which it can improve
- Making parking recommendations based upon ASU survey data
- Helping a small painting company understand the effectiveness of its its marketing sources
- And many more
Here are some additional details:
- Students will work in teams of four to six over a 15-week period.
- Students will build custom and WordPress websites not build Wix and SquareSpace ones. They simply aren’t meaningful enough projects.
- 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.
Update: May 22, 2020
I have decided not to accept ASU’s offer to return for the next academic year. I’m off to greener pastures.
If you’re interested, click here to learn more about the formal application process. If you’re ready to proceed, please click the relevant button below and complete the related form.