Capstone Partner FAQ
Q: What are the components of a MIDS Capstone?
Q: What types of organizations can serve as Capstone partners?
Q: How are the Capstone partners identified?
Q: Who are the MIDS students?
Q: How much work should I expect the students to be able to do?
Q: What training do MIDS students have?
By the time MIDS students begin their Capstone projects, they will have completed a summer internship in data science and taken the following courses:
- Data to Decision
- Modeling and Representation of Data
- Principles of Machine Learning
- Data Wrangling and Principles of Text Analysis
- Data Management Systems
- Data Visualization, Logic, and Storytelling
- Data Science Ethics
- Data Science Dialogues Seminar
- Up to two additional electives in a technical area or subject domain
While they are completing the Capstone, they will take between three and six additional electives in a technical area or subject domain. Throughout both years of their coursework, they participate in workshops and continuous training in:
- Crafting appropriate metrics of success
- Stakeholder analysis and communication
- Project Management
- Team-building and team-participating
- Giving and receiving feedback
- Navigating disagreements with stakeholders and team members
- Design thinking
Q: What is the role of the Partner Liaison?
The Partner Liaison acts as the primary liaison between the partner organization and the project team and is actively engaged in the project. Partner Liaisons take the lead in shaping project direction – they articulate to the Capstone team the topic of interest to the partner organization and provide guidance to the team as it makes and implements its plans and reports its findings. Effective engagement requires that the Partner Liaisons hold regular meetings with the project team. This may involve visiting campus a few times during the semester to meet with the team, and/or communicating with the team through conference calls and the internet, using collaboration software such as Webex. Effective Partner Liaisons provide timely feedback to the team regarding the direction the project is evolving, ensure that the students can access organization data in a form that is appropriate to the project, and generally provide guidance with respect to organization-specific issues and policies. Ideally, the successful completion of the project is an objective recognized by senior management of the organization and a task for which the Partner Liaison is responsible to that organization.
Q: How much time does the Partner Liaison need to make available to the Capstone?
While the amount of time will vary depending on the nature of the project, most Partner Liaisons will spend about 2 hours per week over the course of the project. Partner Liaisons are expected to be available for a mid-year review and to attend the final presentation either virtually or in person. Project teams make their final presentations at the end of April.
Q: How do the different members of the Capstone team (Partner Liaison, MIDS students, Project Manager, others) relate
The 2-semester Capstone course devotes classroom time and has scheduled assignments dedicated to establishing team expectations, creating work plans with outside partners, providing weekly updates, performing 360-degree evaluations of team performance, and reflecting on management issues that arise. Students, faculty, and Partner Liaisons will establish specific commitments and work plans at the beginning of each project. These will vary across teams. In addition, trained project managers will support each project to ensure participating entities are engaged and communicate effectively.
Q: Who will provide and pay for the tools that the students need to complete the Capstone?
Duke University can provide Capstone projects with a secure data environment and the software and computing resources required to complete the project. Capstone partners also have the option of requiring that students work in the partner’s computing space, in which case the partner is responsible for the associated costs. Students do not have travel funds, though they are welcome to accept travel support from Capstone partners.
Q: What is the difference between a Capstone and an IGE Capstone?
Capstones and IGE Capstones have much in common – both involve vertically integrated research teams focused on providing deliverables to a partner. IGE Capstones, developed with support from the National Science Foundation, incorporate a Ph.D. student (known as an IGE Doctoral Fellow) into a MIDS Capstone project selected by the student and developed with that student’s involvement. IGE Doctoral Fellows participate in all Capstone classwork and activities (including meetings with stakeholders, teamwork and leadership workshops, analysis plans, milestone reports, and mid-year reviews) and have the opportunity to participate in any other professional development activities provided by the MIDS program (such as job fairs, interview preparation sessions, and seminars with non-academic parties who use data science), and will have the option to take MIDS core courses. IGE Capstones also receive $3,000 in research funds.