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Capstone project allows CMDA students to solve complex problems

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Category: academics Video duration: Capstone project allows CMDA students to solve complex problems
Students in the College of Science's Computational Modeling and Data Analytics program give their final presentations after a semester of tackling real world obstacles for industry sponsors.
Today is where it all comes together. All of the classes that our students have taken the last four years. All the things they've learned, they bring to their projects that they work on in this capstone class. This gives them an actual experience to be a consultant to a real organization on a real problem. So they get to get into the flow of interacting with businesspeople who are their customers, or academic researchers or government agencies that are their customers, the communication aspects, the project management aspects. And they're applying it, right, to real projects. These projects are unstructured, sometimes very complex. And so it's not only them, you know, learning, okay, what methods to apply, but just even figuring out how do you go about kind of critical thinking, structured problem-solving. Prior to joining the faculty last year, I was a sponsor for five years. I do feel like it gives me a little bit of a unique point of view because I'm looking at these projects not only through the lens of a sponsor or former sponsor, but also now, as a faculty member who is coaching these students to deliver successful results that are going to satisfy their sponsors. Computational modeling and data analytics is really what I wanted to do. Because I wanted to see ways that I can manipulate data and I can use computer science to really understand, a lot of things in life. What we're doing right now, analyzing characteristics by motorcycle accidents and motorcycle fatalities. Using data to figure out answers like that and using all this stuff I learned CMDA, I can easily do that, it's been a great experience. There are two reasons that our sponsors offer projects. It exposes them to our students and gives them an opportunity to tap into the Virginia Tech talent pipeline. The other reason that they come is for the actual business or organizational value that the solutions our students find, delivered to them. This is really to prepare them, right. Working in a team environment to get more of that experience, maybe even in a different domain than they've had an experience with before. And so they're getting to learn about that subject as well as getting more experience with working with perhaps people they haven't worked with before. I was able to understand how business meetings are, how talking professionally goes, sending out e-mails, working with what a client needs. All these things you don't learn on your own. You learn from experience and having that experience at CMDA specifically has given me a lot. I've learned a ton.