CAPSTONE PROJECTS

Sponsor a group capstone project with NYU CUSP’s talented graduate students.

NYU CUSP’s Capstone Program is a six month applied urban analytics project that partners CUSP Urban Informatics graduate student teams lead by a faculty advisor with a public, private sector, or academic organization that is looking to address a critical urban issue or research problem. The Capstone is the experiential learning focus of the CUSP M.S. program. Capstone projects approach real-world challenges through problem identification and scoping, data collection, and applying data analytics and visualization techniques. Student teams possess a combination of technical skills in data analytics, visualization, and machine learning, as well as a strong real-world urban vision. These enable them  to utilize urban data science techniques within the constraints of political, social, and financial considerations, as well as to address issues of data privacy, validity, and transparency. Typical deliverables include urban data analytic reports, data visualizations including interactive applications, research websites, research publications, and prescriptive policy solutions.

Capstone teams are comprised of four to six CUSP students, a CUSP advisor, and a sponsor lead. All students are candidates for the M.S. Applied Urban Science and Informatics. Students enter the one-year Master’s program from a range of academic and professional backgrounds and rapidly develop their skills in urban informatics techniques. CUSP students possess a full range of data science skills, including in: data mining and processing; database management; data analysis (machine learning, modeling); visualization; and web integration.

CUSP advisors include faculty and research scientists from a range of fields, from the physical sciences and math to social sciences and practitioners.  For more information about CUSP faculty and researchers, please click here.  For more information about CUSP students, please click here.

Our students are making a major impact on New York City through their Capstone projects. Learn how from the Class of 2017:

Capstone Program FAQ

NYU CUSP’s Capstone Program is a six month applied urban analytics project that partners CUSP Urban Informatics graduate student teams lead by a faculty advisor with a public, private sector, or academic organization that is looking to address a critical urban issue or research problem. The Capstone is the experiential learning focus of the CUSP M.S. program. Capstone projects approach real-world challenges through problem identification and scoping, data collection, and applying data analytics and visualization techniques. Student teams possess a combination of technical skills in data analytics, visualization, and machine learning, as well as a strong real-world urban vision. These enable them  to utilize urban data science techniques within the constraints of political, social, and financial considerations, as well as to address issues of data privacy, validity, and transparency. Typical deliverables include urban data analytic reports, data visualizations including interactive applications, research websites, research publications, and prescriptive policy solutions.

You can view previous capstone projects on our website here.

Capstone teams are comprised of four to six CUSP students, a CUSP advisor, and a sponsor lead. All students are candidates for the M.S. Applied Urban Science and Informatics. Students enter the one-year Master’s program from a range of academic and professional backgrounds and rapidly develop their skills in urban informatics techniques. CUSP students possess a full range of data science skills, including in: data mining and processing; database management; data analysis (machine learning, modeling); visualization; and web integration.

CUSP advisors include faculty and research scientists from a range of fields, from the physical sciences and math to social sciences and practitioners.  For more information about CUSP faculty and researchers, please click here.  For more information about CUSP students, please click here.

This is the 6th year of the program, which started in the academic year 2013-2014 with CUSP’s inaugural MS cohort. Since that time, we have successfully completed more than 60 projects with two dozen project sponsors, primarily City agencies. 

For public agencies, a Project Agreement will be developed and executed, which describes the project purpose, scope, and expected outputs. This document will also outline data sharing protocols and any restrictions on shared data.

For project sponsors other than New York City agencies, a data sharing agreement will be needed. These documents are similar to the Project Agreements described above.

The best Capstone projects are impact-driven and include a coherent, well-defined urban problem. An effective Capstone project:

  • Ties directly to the needs of the City and the sponsor organization’s mission;
  • Identifies a discrete, tangible, and deliverable end product that can provide actionable insight;
  • Is quantitative and can be approached using a range of data science and informatics methodologies (e.g. network analysis, predictive modeling, machine learning, spatial analytics, etc.);
  • Requires data that is available and in-hand prior to the start of a project; and
  • Includes a supportive sponsor that will engage with the students, ensure access to necessary information, and assist with connecting student teams to appropriate experts and stakeholders.

Proposal submission for the Spring/Summer 2019 Capstone Program is now open. The timeline is as follows:

  • December 15, 2018: Deadline for external project proposals
  • January 10, 2019: Deadline for provision of any external data sets, as well as any signed MOUs
  • February 1, 2019, 4pm – 6pm: Capstone Project Fair (required attendance by sponsor or sponsor’s representative)
  • February 11, 2019: Capstone groups announced 
  • Mid-February 2019 (date TBA): Kick Off Event
  • July 26, 2019, 9am – 5pm: Final Presentations

We seek project sponsors that are engaged and enthusiastic about the use of data science in improving city operations and planning. We expect project sponsors to identify a primary Point of Contact for the project who will ensure data sharing agreements are executed; will provide regular feedback on the students’ work, through periodic meetings and review of progress reports and presentations; and will be able to attend the final project presentations in July. The specific expectations and time commitment will vary by the needs of the specific project, but we would anticipate that the project sponsor be able to commit 1-2 hours every two weeks to the above activities. Our student teams are very capable, and this level of engagement will help to ensure the final deliverables and output provide value for, and are of use to, the project sponsor.

Please review the Capstone Sponsor Mutual Expectations document here.

The CUSP Data Facility is a secure research data environment with datasets, tools, and expert staff to provide research support services to students, faculty, and city agency employees.  The CUSP Data Facility (CDF) connects all of these users to relevant datasets for urban policy research. The CDF reduces the multiple technical, legal, bureaucratic, capacity, and cost barriers to data access, so that the full research, policy, and operational benefits of data products can be realized by academic researchers and students, City analysts and managers, and other key partners in urban science.

We recognize that much of the data we manage, from streaming sensor data to agency administrative data, is sensitive and we handle it accordingly. The CUSP Data Facility’s Safe Data Environment comprises a multi-faceted approach to maintain safe data, through safe people, projects, settings, and outputs.  This approach combines technical protocols, user policies, and user-centered design in order to ensure adherence to data governance requirements.

  • Safe people: regular trainings on responsible data use and privacy & confidentiality,  combined with updated online resources on best practices in data management
  • Safe projects: standards and protocols for managing access to datasets and databases at the project level
  • Safe settings: a secure data environment with restricted data ingress and egress
  • Safe outputs: a statistical disclosure limitation prior to any export of products derived from restricted data

The Data Facility and Student Capstone Projects – CUSP students and faculty and host agencies are encouraged to perform all Capstone research within the Data Facility.  CUSP will process new project data and create project workspaces where designated team members can work with their project-specific datasets and collaborate on data analysis and visualization.  Other data facility users will not have access to the project workspace.

There is no fee associated with the Capstone projects.

Please email cusp.academics@nyu.edu for any additional questions about the Capstone Program.

Capstone project group selection methods will be based on several criteria including students’ ranked preferences. Based on student interest, it is possible that an approved project may not be utilized. Demographics and competencies will also be considered in order to ensure group heterogeneity. Any potential conflicts of interest must be disclosed by project sponsors in advance.