Workshops and Capstone Selection

It is that time of the year when second year SIPA Students start working on their final project — also known as the “workshop” (for Economic and Political Development (EPD) concentrators) or “capstone” (as is the case of students for all other concentrations) and continue for the remainder of their last semester here.  The final project give students a chance to refine their skills and knowledge and make a positive contribution to the world. The projects also provide valuable experience and contacts for post-graduate employment.

For many of the students, this is one of the most important reasons why they chose to come to SIPA.  There is a lot of excitement in our building surrounding the projects  —  There is endless discussion about the possibilities that lie ahead.

Beginning this year, all SIPA MIA and MPA students are required to participate in either a capstone or a workshop in order to graduate.  You may view this year’s capstone project options here.   Small teams of students will work on cutting-edge issues facing real-world clients and deliver an actionable report at the completion of the project.

Laura Agosta, a second year MPA student concentrating in Economic and Political Development (EPD) is very optimistic about the impact that this experience could have on her personal and professional life. “I believe that this is the chance I have to put into practice the theoretical knowledge I am learning at SIPA. Also, EPD workshops often involve traveling abroad to Africa, Asia or Latin America, this is an excellent opportunity of getting to know a country that you never imagine you would be working in!” says this student from Argentina.  Laura is going to Tanzania to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of a child-protection program.  EPD workshops are projects in which students gain practical experience by engaging in on-going cutting-edge development efforts, often involving country fieldwork. They work in teams with a faculty supervisor and assist a variety of clients on a wide array of assignments in international development. This year’s EPD clients are located in countries such as Nigeria, Tanzania, Georgia, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Nepal.

Andrea Bustard is a second year student concentrating in Urban and Social Policy (USP). She is working on a capstone project. These are also projects in which students are organized into small consulting teams and assigned a substantive, policy-oriented project with an external client. Clients include public agencies – from the local to national level – international NGOs, multinational organizations, and major firms in the private sector. Andrea highlights that this “is an exciting time that has allowed me to identify what skills I would like to develop and match it with my field of interest”.

Alex Villarino, a recent SIPA graduate worked with the New York City Mayor’s Office of Operation in spring 2011. The goal of his SIPA team was to develop a risk analysis and assessment of which factor contributed to detecting the possible problems of catch basing clog and street flooding using the system that the city already has on 311 Consumer service. They elaborated an informatics model that now allows the city to use relevant information such as population, altitude, precipitation and the regularity of cleaning of the city in an effort to detect the areas that are more likely to flood. They  even created an index of leaf control from the census of trees in the city! He says that overall, “It was a very exciting and applicable project with a concrete outcome.  The team was fantastic, everybody worked together and the faculty advisers were very supportive.”

No matter where you go or which project you are involved, most of SIPA students and graduates agree that this is a unique experience that can be very valuable for their future professional life.  And is only one of the many exciting opportunities that SIPA offers future development practitioners.  For a full view of workshop and capstone project opportunities and the sponsoring clients, visit our website.