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BSDS Program’s Capstones Bridge Academia With Industry

4 min read

YEREVAN, Armenia — The American University of Armenia (AUA) Zaven P. & Sonia Akian College of Science and Engineering (CSE), Bachelor of Science in Data Science (BSDS) Program, calls for applications from industry and academia professionals with expertise in data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to serve as supervisors or reviewers of student capstone projects. 

The Data Science Capstone Project constitutes the driving force for innovation, challenging students to apply their theoretical knowledge to solve real-world problems. This hands-on experience is a critical component of the program, providing students with a platform to showcase their skills and creativity. The project’s adaptability, offering both individual and group formats, not only accommodates diverse learning styles but also fosters innovative problem-solving across varied disciplines.

Dr. Habet Madoyan, BSDS Program Chair, notes: “The Capstone course is the culmination of a Data Science student’s undergraduate journey. It represents an essential milestone where students apply all the skills and knowledge they have acquired throughout their studies. Additionally, this course offers a unique opportunity to work on real-world projects in collaboration with industry leaders. This experience can potentially open up new horizons for both the students and their supervisors, enhancing their professional prospects.”

One distinctive feature of the Data Science Capstone is the collaboration between the University and industry. This partnership adds a practical dimension to the projects, allowing students to access real-world datasets, industry-specific challenges, and insightful professionals. By working on industry-relevant problems, students gain a deeper understanding of the complexities they may encounter in their future careers. Dr. Rafayel Petrosyan, assistant professor at AUA, underscores the significance of capstone projects: “Capstone projects play a key role in students’ preparation for the next stage of their careers. This is one of the first attempts for students to apply their course-gained knowledge to address real-world, non-textbook-type problems. From my own experience as a supervisor, I can say that we have very talented students in our college, and working with them on research projects is very exciting.”

At its core, the capstone project is a collaborative effort between students, supervisors, and reviewers. Capstone supervisors, distinguished professionals with a minimum of a master’s degree and five years of relevant experience, play a crucial role in guiding students through the entire process. Their expertise ensures that the projects are not just academic exercises but practical solutions to real-world problems. Reviewers, on the other hand, provide an external perspective, evaluating the final capstone project and offering constructive feedback. 

Karen Hovhannisyan, adjunct lecturer at AUA and Data Science team lead at MTS Armenia, speaks of his experience as a supervisor: “Overall, as a supervisor, I aim to ensure that the students gain practical experience by applying their theoretical knowledge and producing meaningful and impactful projects. Eventually, this prepares them for the challenges of working in the industry as throughout the projects they are not only gaining practical Data Science knowledge but also domain knowledge, which is a prerequisite for faster vertical career growth.”

Supervisors have a great impact on developing professionals with a solid theoretical foundation and practical application skills. Participating in capstone projects not only enables supervisors to identify and potentially recruit top talent but also provides them with the opportunity to assess relevant technologies, software, tools, and methods. Pakrad Balabanian, the senior technical consultant and advisor for the MEA region, has mentored a capstone project, “Analysis & Prediction of Real Estate House Pricing for Yerevan, Armenia,” and feels gratified by its outcomes: “The project not only showcased the student’s technical prowess but also demonstrated the practical relevance of data science in solving real-world challenges. It reaffirms my belief in the transformative power of experiential learning, as these capstone projects serve as a bridge between academia and industry. The intersection of theory and application in this endeavor exemplifies the immense potential of data science education to shape the future of industries and drive meaningful change.”

Reviewers facilitate meaningful connections with academia, allowing them to uncover students’ full potential. Additionally, their constructive feedback influences the development of industry standards, fostering ongoing discussions about best practices and alignment with established norms.

The CSE official website features a dedicated section showcasing “BSDS Capstone Papers” a repository that contains comprehensive information about capstone projects. Visitors of this section will find a rich collection of capstone projects spanning the academic years 2022-23 and 2021-22, which depict the innovative ideas conceived by our students, the collaborative efforts with industry partners, and the successful outcomes from these projects. 

For those interested in contributing as supervisors or reviewers, the “Become a Supervisor/Reviewer” subsection offers detailed information about the roles, responsibilities, and requirements associated with these positions. Additionally, prospective supervisors and reviewers can access the application form through this link.

In essence, the Data Science Capstone Project embodies the University’s commitment to excellence by creating a collaborative space where academia and industry intersect. It is a testament to AUA’s dedication to providing students with a holistic and practical education that prepares them not just for their first job but for a successful and rewarding career in the dynamic field of data science.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.