Capstone Project

Work with our MDS students on a Data Science project (May-June each year). Assess talent and your organizational needs for a data scientist and gain brand exposure, while providing our students with valuable work experience.

Our students work in teams of approximately four students with you and a UBC mentor to address a question facing the capstone partner’s organization using data science. The capstone program is free for partner organizations to participate in, but requires a point person who is willing to meet regularly with the students and offer guidance.

For the MDS Computational Linguistics program, we are seeking projects related to language data. You can view examples of past MDS Computational Linguistics projects here.

Partner Information

To participate as an employer and become a capstone partner you need to submit a short project proposal outlining the scope and outcome(s) of your 8-week project.

Submit a Capstone Proposal - MDS Vancouver

Submit a Capstone Proposal - MDS Okanagan

Submit a Capstone Proposal - Computational Linguistics

For guidelines on submitting a proposal, see our proposal page.

For various important dates and deadlines, see our timeline and procedures page.

  • You’ll have ~4 data scientists-in-training working on your dataset/project for ~2 months, at no cost. These students will be well versed in modern data science tools and techniques, including statistical analysis and visualizations using R and Python. 
  • These students could be potential future employees; in addition, there will be visibility for your organization for the whole cohort through various events and presentations. 
  • Students will create a well-developed product of interest/relevance to your work (e.g., Shiny app, analytic report, scripts/software). This product is expected to be of high quality, with excellent code documentation and testing. 
  • This is an opportunity to develop a relationship with the UBC MDS program. These relationships have the possibility of kickstarting research collaborations between the partners and UBC.
  • You should be able to provide our students with ample data that is relevant to a question/problem faced by your organization. This need not belong to the capstone partner’s organization – for example, it could come freely online. Datasets must be sufficiently clean, and an appropriate and size that the students will be able to load into R and/or Python in a reasonable amount of time and effort. 
  • The partner must be available to meet with MDS students working on the capstone project (in person ideally) on a weekly basis during the duration of the capstone project. 
  • The partner should be on board with the educational goals of the capstone project, and understand that this partnership isn’t simply “free data scientists” for two months. 
  • The partner must come to an agreement about data and product sharing, licensing and intellectual product rights. The MDS program will support agreements that benefit both the students and the partners. Please note that it will be key for the students to share some aspect of the project during their job search following graduation from the MDS program. 
  • The partner consents to the organization’s name and project title being listed on the UBC MDS website.

Successful MDS capstone projects… 

  • pose an interesting and open-ended question/problem that can be addressed using data science for which data is available or obtainable. 
  • pose a multi-faceted question/problem, containing enough dimensions to be addressed in a multitude of ways. 
  • are sufficiently deep, such that a useful data product can be made in two months that makes a solid advance on the problem. 
  • can be split up into milestones, such that concrete progress can be made in two months. 
  • draw on various tools and topics the students have learned in their courses during the MDS program. 

What a capstone project is not

  • Setting up and/or maintaining a database. 
    • This project should focus on a data science problem. 
  • A pre-specified approach, such as applying a particular machine learning algorithm to a particular data set. 
    • This type of project is too narrow, not open-ended, and has only one or a few solutions. We expect our students to creatively come up with their own data science approaches to address the capstone partner’s over-arching question/problem (with advice from the capstone partner on data science approaches). 
  • Data cleaning. 
    • Although we expect some data wrangling to be involved in the project, we ask that you provide data that is mostly clean and “ready-to-go”. If you need help with this, ASDa from the UBC Department of Statistics might be able to help for a fee. 
  • Software development. 
    • Although our students learn some basic principles of software development, they are not generally equipped to build production-level software systems. Software development projects would also typically be less well aligned with the students’ interests and the learning objectives of the capstone course.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions regarding our capstone course. Don’t see the answer to your question here? please contact Milad Maymay here.

No, there is no fee involved anywhere in the process, and we ask that partners not pay our students.

We have workspaces available for the students on the UBC Vancouver campus, and expect students to work on campus at least once per week. Otherwise, we are flexible as to the work location.

Yes, assuming you are willing and able to supervise multiple capstone projects simultaneously, giving each one the attention it deserves. In this situation it’s possible that we will give priority to only one of the projects, so as to give other candidate partners a chance at participating. Also, the projects should be sufficiently different so that there is little overlap, and partners should be willing to put in time to work with each student group.

Yes, this is possible. The preferred option is to use UBC’s standard NDA template. See our legal page for more information.

We ask that our students try new approaches to a problem, and not replicate our partners’ work. However, we expect our capstone projects to be open-ended, having various approaches for addressing a problem, as opposed to having a single solution. We would encourage our students to either build on our partners’ work, or address the problem from a different angle.

No, this is not a requirement. In fact, a major part of our capstone course is for students to decide on approaches themselves for addressing the problem using data science. We do not encourage our students to simply apply some requested data science techniques to the problem. However, we do encourage our partners to share their ideas if they have them!

We welcome interest from any organization. However, for the MDS Vancouver program, preference will be given to organizations located in Canada, and especially in the Vancouver area. The MDS Okanagan and Computational Linguistics programs welcome capstone proposals from across Canada.

Examples of MDS Capstone Projects

Past projects have come from a variety of organizations such as government, sports, academic, mining, and finance. Our capstone partners have provided students with the opportunity to get real-world experience in a variety of different roles through their eight-week capstone project. You can see some of our previous industry partners below. 

Seasalt AI MDS Computational Linguistics
Master of Data Science Vancouver ICBC Capstone Project
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Statistics Canada logo
Rio Tinto logo
Siemens Healthineers logo
Master of Data Science Okanagan True North Capstone Project