How to Find a Problem for Capstone Project
The Capstone Project requires students to identify a real world problem to be solved, collect data on that problem, analyze the data, posit a solution suitable for implementation and present the solution in written and oral format.
The key to this activity is selecting an excellent problem. For this to happen, the problem must be real and there must be adequate amounts of data to support a detailed problem analysis. In approving student problem selections, instructors will place a premium on the adequacy of appropriate data.
The problem must also support a solution that highlights core student learning in applied technology management principles including, but not necessarily limited to, ethics, management of cost, schedule, scope, risks and technology alternative analysis.
Sources of problems can come from industry, students' own work organizations (provided it is individual work and not a current work team's output), state or federal government, or from new product domains. Students are only limited by their imagination.
Some acceptable problem sources are noted below:
Organizational change management problem. Students select an organization with an identified problem that needs addressing, create recommendations for changes, and explain how those changes should be implemented. The problem must have a technical component (e.g., adapting to a new workflow caused by replacing a legacy system).
Legacy system upgrade. Students select a legacy system that needs to be updated. Examples could include a government entity's or organization's financial, management, logistics or weapons systems. Students select the candidate system, analyze its structure and technology, and develop a plan that, if implemented, would result in a modernized system.
Technology implementation business case. Students select a problem involving the introduction of new technology. This problem requires students to determine the need, develop technological alternatives, and develop an alternative selection recommendation. For example, introduction of a sensor network enabled by Internet of Things (IoT).
Entrepreneurial business venture. Students select a problem and develop a business plan to commercialize a solution suitable for sale to the government or public.
National infrastructure protection plan. Students select a critical portion of the national infrastructure (e.g. the nation's power grid, nuclear power plant control stations, electrical substations or nation's pipelines), analyze that element, determine weakness(es), and propose a solution that will reduce the selected national vulnerability.