Capstone Project Guidelines

Course Description

The Capstone Project is designed to give the students an opportunity to conduct significant, independent work on a technology related research paper, or a technology related hands-on project. One of the main objectives of this project is for students to have an opportunity to utilize the knowledge and skills acquired throughout the program to research or solve real-world problems. For most students, the Capstone Project is an opportunity to showcase their skills and construct a comprehensive written report or a portfolio that can be presented to future employers. Students will conduct independent research or design and implement a project that is relevant to their interest in the technology field.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course students will be able to:

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  • Identify technology related topics of interest that are suited for exploration in the forms of research, or hands-on implementation.
  • Draft an organized plan and a timeline for the completion of the project over the academic year.
  • Identify goals for the project, articulate a plan of action, and explore means by which to accomplish these goals.
  • Prepare oral and written work to present progress in a timely fashion to the instructor and peers.


There is a fair degree of flexibility in the range of topics that the students can choose from. Some suggestions for the types of work that can be conducted are as follows:

  • Research a current technology trend, analyze the market and make prediction on the future trends of this particular technology. Significant analysis of the technology and the forecast for the future state of the technology should be included in this research paper.
  • Identify an area of technology that needs improvement and come up with a design or a proposal for an improvement scenario. Present a well-supported and well-documented argument for why the solution is feasible and is superior to other alternatives. Suggest implementation strategies.
  • Identify a hands-on project, propose a design or an implementation strategy, and identify goals and tangible outcomes. Design and implement the project and perform testing if applicable.

Each student will conduct background research, formulate project goals and outcomes, and complete a final paper and presentation at the end of the spring term. There will be at least one peer-review presentation during the spring, where the students will have the opportunity to present and share their work with the rest of the class to obtain feedback from their peers and the instructor.

Individual Meetings

Students are required to meet with the instructor each month to discuss their project, reflect on their submitted progress report, and ask for advice. Three subsequent individual meetings will be scheduled and posted on Blackboard under Individual Mtg Schedule tab. Each student or group will have about half hour to showcase their work and progress. Depending on the nature of the work students may show a demo of their in-progress code or project, or they may discuss the draft of their research paper. If students are late to their meeting time, they will have a shorter time to present their work.

Topic Selection

Students should submit a 2-page report on their chosen topic. Students who plan to work on hands-on projects are encouraged to work in groups of 2. The submission requirements for this assignment will be posted on Blackboard.

Progress Reports

Students are required to submit a two-page report (a full page) on the progress that they have made during the period that precedes the corresponding deadline. This one-pager should include the following:

  1. A detailed description of the work accomplished during the time-period, including progress on:
    • Design, implementation or testing of project components (for a hands-on project)
    • Scholarly research performed or text written (for a research paper)
  2. Total number of hours spent on the project and the breakdown of the number of hours per different tasks. For example:
    • X hours researching in the library, Y hours writing a draft, Z hours meeting with a writing tutor – Total of: X+Y+Z
    • X hours learning a new routine or function, Y hours debugging code, Z hours designing a sub-routine/database, testing, etc. – Total of: X+Y+Z
  3. Plans and goals for the upcoming month
  4. Reflection and lessons learned during this time period such as:
    • What did you learn?
    • If you learned something – why was it valuable and how can you improve your progress?
    • How do you feel about your projects progression? Are there any concerns?
    • How could have you managed your time better?
    • Did anything go wrong? If so, how did you manage or fix it?

Timeline and Goals

Students are required to provide a two-page report on the timeline for the completion of the project. The following should be included:

Page 1:

  • List a series of goals or milestones for the project:

i.e. research XY, design XY, implement XYZ, etc.

Make sure that your goals are tangible and reflect the overall objectives of the project

  • For each goal, explain briefly how you are planning to accomplish it:

i.e. I plan to read report X, I  plan to interview Y, I will write code X to perform analysis Y, etc.


Page 2:

  • Draw a timeline for the entire project including what you plan to do during the spring term

Use either MS Office or another PM software that you might be familiar with, to draw your timeline

  • Clearly indicate the estimated completion date or period of time you plan to work on each goal (This will probably change as the project progresses)
  • You should start by including submission deadlines for the fall term.


Your grade for this submission will depend on how much effort you put into planning and organizing this project. The level of detail that you put into your timeline reflects how much you have thought about your project, how realistic your goals are and how good your plan is for achieving these goals.  You don’t want to put every little detail in the goals and your timeline, but you want to have achievable and tangible goals and a realistic timeline to complete this project. Make sure to think carefully and spend some time on this assignment, as it will set the tone for the rest of the project.


The goal of this presentation is to give the students an opportunity to showcase their work in a short presentation. This short 15 minute presentation should include a highlight of the work that has been completed so far and plans for moving forward.

Paper Draft

This paper draft is meant to help students shape the structure of their final paper. Since most of students are still in the investigation mode, this draft does not have to be more than 10 pages long (1.5 spaced) but it should serve as a guideline and road map for the final paper. More details will be provided later in the term about the structure of this paper. Paper format will vary depending on the nature of the project.


This course uses a percent based grading schema, as shown below.

Assignment Type Point Value Per Assignment  #  Assignments Total
Individual Meetings 5 3 15%
Topic Selection 10 1 10%
Progress Reports 5 2 10%
Timeline & Goals 10 1 10%
Presentation 20 1 20%
Paper draft 35 1 35%



The grading scale below, based on %, determines your final letter grade.

100 – 93: A 92 – 90: A- 89 – 87: B+
86 – 83: B 82 – 80: B- 79 – 77: C+
76 – 73: C 73 – 70: C- 69 – 67: D+
66 – 63: D 62 – 60: D- <59: F


Submission Requirements:

  • All submission should be through Blackboard.
  • Students must notify faculty asap of their intention to be absent from the first class if it is a day of their religious observance. Faculty will continue to extend to these students the courtesy of absence without penalty on such occasions
  • In the event of an unforeseen circumstance where a deadline is missed, the instructor should be informed immediately. A doctor’s note should be presented in case of a medical emergency

Netiquette:   research paper

Please observe the following rules of netiquette for email and online communication:

  • Use salutation when sending emails to your instructor and sign your name at the end of each email
  • Use your GWU email for any correspondence with the instructor and check your GWU email on regular basis. All communication from the instructor will come there
  • Remain professional, respectful, and courteous at all times

Academic Integrity

Please review GW’s policy on academic integrity, located at.Students should familiarize themselves with the Code of Academic Integrity for GW and all graded work must be completed in accordance with this Code located at: In this code, academic dishonesty is defined as “cheating of any kind, including misrepresenting one’s own work, taking credit for the work of others without crediting them and without appropriate authorization, and the fabrication of information”. This extends beyond written work and includes material of any kind found on the Internet. Commitment to academic honesty upholds the mutual respect and moral integrity that GW’s community values and nurtures. To this end, The George Washington University Code of Academic Integrity has been established and must be honored by all members of its community.


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