Capstone courses create opportunity for students to prepare for career

Jodi Abazoski and Jodi Abazoski

Many employers say they look for “well-rounded” people when hiring, but the meaning of that word is not always clear.

For most programs at the University, producing a well-rounded student means providing a quantifying course during the senior year, often with a hands-on component. These courses may be called a capstone, but depending on the department it could be a thesis paper or internship, said Sue Houston, vice provost for academic affairs.

“I’m sure that all of the majors have a culminating course,” Houston said. “For students going into business that can mean one thing, for students going into grad school, that could mean another thing.”

Houston said many employers look for things like communication skills and critical thinking skills, all of which can be gained through “real-world” experience.

The University has no standard requirement to provide a capstone, she said, because each discipline is so different.

“It should really be up to the department whether or not to require a capstone,” she said.

Senior and graphic design major, Brandon Stammen has been working on his senior project since this past spring.

Stammen’s project sums up many smaller projects he’s worked on and focuses on exploring his own dreams. The fine arts department calls its capstone a senior thesis.

“I think it helps a lot to be able to create something you’re interested in,” Stammen said. “[My project] is also something that I could draw on my future work.”

Construction management may seem like a totally different discipline than fine arts, but there are similar goals between the two when preparing seniors to finish their education.

Construction management students have to complete a capstone project that puts them in charge of an entire project with a group, including doing all scheduling and estimates, said Travis Chapin, chair of the construction management department.

Students in Chapin’s department also are required to complete three internships throughout their time at the University, he said.

“The capstone course is putting it all together,” he said.