By Chanapa Tantibanchachai
The Office of Capstone Initiatives is seeking applications for Individual Capstone Experiences and Collaborative Capstone Experiences. The Capstone Experience offers undergraduate students an opportunity to apply their skills toward initiating, designing and executing a project that meaningfully combines students’ academic training, prior knowledge and passion. The office also provides financial support up to $1,000 for capstone projects through the Ivory Homes Capstone Initiative Fund.
“Capstone projects invite creative responses to the problems of our times,” said professor Stephen Goldsmith who is the director of the Office of Capstone Initiatives. “The breadth and quality of work we’re seeing from our students is a reminder of the ways deeply engaged learning enhances our students’ lives and prepares them for the challenges and opportunities they’ll find when they graduate”
Capstone projects cover a wide range of academic disciplines and are often interdisciplinary in nature. Students have the freedom to craft their own research and creative projects that reach beyond the classroom and implement tangible solutions in the real world.
“Through the Capstone Initiative Program I’ve learned what it takes to get something from the good idea stage to something that’s marketable in the real world. I have to not only have a vision for solving a problem but also engineering, marketing, collaboration, presentation plans and skills. It takes a lot of involvement of others, creativity, planning and tracking for a project to have a fair chance of success. Funding from this program is making the dream to assist people a reality,” said Hannah Hendrickson, a senior majoring in health, society and policy who created the first interdisciplinary Collaborative Capstone Initiative project.
Below is a summary of recent, notable capstone projects:
- With the help of two other students, Hendrickson’s project resulted in the creation of a low-cost electronic device for the homeless population so they can receive reminders for doctors’ appointments. People facing homelessness, who have no fixed address and rarely have consistent access to shelter, Internet or a phone, often miss medical appointments because they are unable to receive reminders through traditional methods such as phone calls, postcards and emails. Due to its high level of promise, Hendrickson’s project garnered over $14,000 in funding and she has been able to conduct extensive research into the prevalence and financial consequences of missed health care appointments by homeless patients.
- Breeanne Saxton, a modern dance major, along with two other students in her department, Eliza Tappan and Marissa Mooney, produced “The Lines Between Us,” an off-campus performance in Salt Lake’s Warehouse District. Through this project, the students not only received the opportunity to perform three original works for the public, but also gained first-hand experience in the fundamentals of event planning and non-profit management.
With the help of the Office of Capstone Initiatives and under U history professor Ben Cohen’s grant from the U.S. Consulate to research water use in Hyderabad, India, six undergraduate students recently traveled to Hyderabad from Dec. 27, 2015, to Jan. 8, 2016. During their time there, the students worked alongside nine Indian university students to examine various water-related problems in their geographical, political, social and cultural contexts. Since returning from Hyderabad, the U students have been working with the Indian students overseas to brainstorm implementable solutions to the problems they witnessed and study. In July 2016, the six students will return to Hyderabad to present their solutions to the U.S. Consulates office, and community and non-governmental organizations that could potentially adopt and implement the proposed solutions on the ground.
“It was an unparalleled experience, a true capstone in my final semester at the university, that would not have been financially possible without the efforts of both professors Cohen and Goldsmith to fund our experience through a U.S. State Department grant. The project could hardly be more directly related to the career I hope to pursue: improving water security internationally through U.S. foreign policy and diplomacy. Though its professional relevance has been invaluable, I could never have guessed the lasting friendships, international camaraderie and Indo-American mutual understanding the project has supported. It was fascinating to see the common human challenge of water security, one we continue to grapple with here in Utah, through Indian perspectives. I believe that humanity only confront the intertwined environmental issues of the 21st century, from water security to climate change, when working in global solidarity, utilizing and cross-pollinating the best ideas from all nations to create solutions. The friendships and connections generated from the project in Hyderabad have equipped us to work across borders to more collaboratively confront our global water crisis,” said Matthew Kirkegaard, a senior double majoring in political science and environmental and sustainability studies.
In order to apply for either an Individual or Collaborative Capstone Experience, students must work with a faculty advisor or advisors to develop a one or two semester-long plan for the project. Students can then register for the three-credit UGS 4820 course and submit a form detailing the project and specifying the project duration, participants and advisor(s), any organizations that may be involved, project assessment plan and requested funding. Students enrolled in their department’s capstone courses or their equivalents are invited to apply for funds to support their projects through the Ivory Homes Capstone Initiative Fund.
Students interested in applying for a Capstone Experience may email Goldsmith for more information.