Senior Capstone Project
There are many opportunities for students to be involved in research at Bentley, whether through lab or field work, or as research assistants. In addition to those opportunities, all honors students must complete a semester-long capstone research project during their senior year as part of the program requirements. The capstone project is an opportunity to explore important, interesting or emerging topics of a student’s choosing. In particular, students are encouraged to explore unique or creative topics, using discipline based methods working with faculty who have expertise in that area. Examples of the many topics that students have explored can be found in the Honors Conference section, where previous conference programs are available.
To encourage high-quality student research, we offer a small number of highly competitive honors research fellowships each semester. Through generous support from United Technologies Corporation, these fellowships provide selected scholars dedicated funding to attend conferences or support other research related expenses. In addition, some fellowships are also eligible for stipends.
Students work directly with faculty advisers to craft a research project proposal, which is approved through the Honors Program. During the semester, students then work with their adviser on research techniques and analysis, using discipline specific standards to write up their research findings. There are also opportunities for theme based research seminars to fulfill the capstone research project. Typically, these small courses are offered once a semester, and have a team-based community-service or policy dimension to them. Examples of these research seminar capstones include:
- Economic Redevelopment Plan for Moody Street (Waltham, MA)
- Universal Broadband: Opportunities and Challenges in Western Massachusetts
- The Role of Nuclear Energy in the United States: Past, Present and Future
- Milton, MA, Public Schools Antibullying Campaign
- Human Trafficking
- Leading by Example: A Report on Sustainable Programs at Massachusetts State Agencies
- High Cost Electricity in Massachusetts: Causes and Potential Solutions
- Corruption, Scandals and Contemporary Society
- Pandemic Influenza Preparedness in Massachusetts
- The Distribution of Wealth
For students who may not have a research topic in mind, the research seminar course may be a good fit. In addition, students can access CapMatch on Blackboard for research ideas, and also look for potential faculty advisers for their project. Students can go to the Honors Program office to see examples of past research projects for additional ideas and inspiration.
For more information on the capstone research project, contact the associate director of the Honors Program, who manages the process. For specific information on dates, deadlines and procedures for current students, see Blackboard.
The Honors Conference takes place near the end of April each year, and provides an opportunity for all graduating seniors to present the findings of their capstone research projects in a formal setting in front of family, friends, faculty and peers. It is an enriching opportunity to take stock of the hard work throughout their four years at Bentley, and in particular celebrates the challenging yet rewarding conclusion to the capstone research project.
To encourage the collaborative nature of the research process, all senior honors students are expected to participate in the conference, by both presenting and attending sessions. Family, friends, faculty and the broader Bentley community are encouraged to attend as well. Following the concurrent sessions which run during the day is a reception, in which students display summaries of their projects and have the opportunity to mingle with family, friends and faculty. The day is capped off with a celebratory dinner, highlighted by students receiving their honors medallions, as well as the presentation of student research and capstone adviser awards (see Awards section).
The links below are the programs for the Honors Conferences each year, which contain abstracts of all the senior capstone projects.
To further encourage and enhance academic excellence in the capstone process, awards were created to recognize the most outstanding capstone research projects. Each year at the Honors Conference held in April, a student is presented with a Capstone of the Year Award for Excellence in Arts and Sciences, and one student is presented with a Capstone of the Year Award for Excellence in Business.
Nominations for exceptional student projects are encouraged from faculty advisers, but self-nominations from the student are also accepted, with faculty adviser support. Nominations are solicited near the end of the semester in both December and in April. Typically, nominated student projects exhibit a strong level of original, independent thinking and/or creativity, provides new knowledge or understanding of a subject area, or may employ a significant level of rigor in the research process achieved through extraordinary effort, desire and motivation by the student. For more information on the nomination process, see Blackboard, or contact the associate director of the Honors Program.
The previous winners of the Capstone of the Year Awards for Excellence in Research are listed below.
Capstone of the Year Award for Excellence in Business
Capstone of the Year Award for Excellence in the Arts and Sciences
“Customer Experience in the ‘Age of the Customer’”
Adviser: Mark Davis, Management
“Are the People in Welfare States Happier Than Those in Capitalist States? A Comparison of Life Satisfaction in the United States versus Denmark”
Adviser: Kristen Sorensen, Global Studies
“The European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 1494”
Adviser: Claude Cicchetti, Finance
“The Development of Judicial Review in the Early Republic”
Adviser: Cyrus Veeser, History
Samantha J. Mayer
“Magazine Usage Among Tablet Owning College-Aged Millennials”
Adviser: Leslie Simmel, Marketing
“Contemporary Chilean Media: How Human Rights Issues Are Portrayed in a Developing Country”
Adviser: Kristen Sorensen, Global Studies
Additionally, to recognize the hard work and dedication of the faculty advisers in the mentoring process, an award for the most outstanding capstone adviser is given. All faculty capstone advisers are eligible, and are nominated by their advisees. The award recipient typically demonstrates exceptional dedication to the research and learning processes, provides exceptional motivation and inspiration to the student, and pushes the limits of knowledge and understanding of the student. Previous Adviser of the Year Award winners are ineligible to win the award again until five years after the last year in which they won. Nominations are solicited near the end of the semester in both December and in April.
To underscore the motivation and ideals for what the award represents, the award was named in honor of Professor Gregory J. Hall, who served as director of the program from 2005 to 2012. In recognition of his steadfast service to the program, and his exceptional dedication to honors students, the award is officially known as the Gregory J. Hall Capstone Adviser of the Year Award.
For more information on the nomination process, see Blackboard, or contact the associate director of the Honors Program.
Previous winners of the Gregory J. Hall Capstone Adviser of the Year Award are:
April 2014: Professor Dave Carhart, Mathematical Sciences; Advisee: Lucia Garcia
April 2013: Professor Charlie Hadlock, Mathematical Sciences; Advisee: Kyle Todd
April 2012: Professor Aaron Nurick, Management; Advisee: Kelly Hilton