Capstone Experiences

The BEO Capstone

Following the recommendations of the 2011-12 curriculum review of the program, the BEO Faculty Committee and staff designed a required, concentration-wide capstone to provide a synergistic experience for BEO seniors. This innovative course is unduplicated anywhere on campus and recevies strong support from the College Curriculum Committee, the Dean of the College, the Registrar, and other administrative offices. The BEO capstone will be a required course for all concentrators to work with their peers across the three tracks;  to synthesize theoretical and real world knowledge;  to synthesize learnings across the three disciplines;  and to demonstrate connections between the for profit and nonprofit sectors.

While capstones have been offered by BEO over the years, developing the curricular content and processes needed to scale the program to accommodate as many as 75-90 students has been a major undertaking. For  falll 2014 we will offer about 18 capstone project teams, involving the close coordination of all three BEO units, Swearer Center, CareerLab and School of Engineering. Most projects will be two-semester commitments and seniors will generally be able to chose a project best aligned with their interests and skills. A faculty advisor will supervise project teams, usually comprised of five students and a “mentor” from the sponsor organization who provides project context, advice and access to data and resources.

Types of Projects

Capstone projects target real world problems and challenges of a sponsor organization. Projects can be sponsored by small start-ups, government agencies, social or educational institutions, corporations, NGOs, and/or advocacy groups. With a broad range of student interests and skills, projects can include:

  • Analysis of strategic options
  • Business case to bring a new product, service or technology to market
  • Proto-type development and market analysis of a technology
  • Analysis of acquisition, merger or divestiture
  • Analysis/modeling of investments, equipment, intellectual property

Key Project Responsibilities

To benefit both the students and sponsor organizations, following are project success factors:

  • Well-defined project goals and scope negotiated by sponsor, team and faculty advisor
  • Clear deliverables incorporated in a written project plan with milestones
  • Setting of context within the sponsor organization and access to data 

Student Project Goals:

Students participating in Capstone projects receive academic credit and learn to:

  • Build skills in problem analysis, business case preparation, product/solution development, market research, presentation and public speaking
  • Enhance project management, teamwork and problem-solving skills
  • Develop expertise in a specific problem area while understanding context, leverage points and constraints (e.g. economic, legal, social, diversity and cultural conditions)

Benefits to Sponsor Organizations

Sponsor organizations view Capstone projects as an exciting opportunity to:

  • Access bright, focused and community-oriented students and faculty
  • Receive an objective study of a critical issue facing a sponsor organization
  • Receive written documentation of analysis and recommendations
  • Develop connections to Brown students and faculty for future collaborations