Capstone: Sweet and sour experiences
Date of this Version
Capstone subjects are a feature of many built environment degrees. At Bond University the property, urban development, urban planning, construction management and quantity surveying specialisations share the integrative Capstone subject. Capstone students are given unique projects from industry clients who are interested in involving and releasing the capabilities of final year students on a multi-dimensional project involving facets in the areas of town planning, environmental, financial, construction, sustainability, design, social and administrative capabilities and which can be completed in 13 weeks. The project is assessed by the capstone staff as having a high research content as well as practical relevance and not just being a descriptive approach of a static situation. Students work in groups of 2, 3 or 4 (size depending on the task) with some groups working on the same client problem that has a number of dimensions and other groups working on an individual project where one analysis is sufficient. Emphasis is given to scope definition and the understanding as well as targeting of the client needs through a thorough literature review, data collection involving a range of techniques depending on the situation, analysis of the data and conclusions and recommendations. Client response to date after three years has been positive with clients requesting more involvement with this subject. Clients to date have included a major local property developer, Delfin Group, Mirvac, Billabong and Queensland Health. The positive experiences of Capstone are highlighted in this paper, which include high quality multi-disciplinary reports and presentations with student groups appreciating the benefits of integrated learning based on original research with a real project for a large private organisation. Capstone projects however can also be associated with a number of problems, possibly endemic, mainly based around the organisation of the work and from the attitudes of some of the student participants. The authors present a “warts and all‟ view and discussion of capstone projects for the benefit of academics and organisations involved in these projects. Possible solutions to some of the problems are also proposed for further discussion at the conference.
This document has been peer reviewed.