Faculty of Engineering:
Software Engineering Capstone: Students work in teams to plan, design and develop a large software project from start to finish over the course of two terms. Past projects have included developing mobile apps, web applications, and software for embedded systems. Teams go through the whole software development lifecycle including requirements gathering, design, implementation, testing, deployment and maintenance.
Systems Design Engineering Capstone: In their final year, students complete an intensive two-term capstone design project where they apply their engineering knowledge and skills to a real-world design challenge. Past projects have included designing autonomous vehicles, medical devices, renewable energy systems, robotics projects and more. Students work in multidisciplinary teams to go through the full product development cycle from concept to prototype.
Mechanical Engineering Capstone: Students undertake a substantial individual or group design and build project over two terms under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Examples include designing and building vehicles, bridges, medical devices, aerospace components or testing/demonstrating mechanical systems. Projects culminate in a final expo where students showcase their work.
Electrical Engineering Capstone: In teams, students complete an electrical/computer engineering project from concept to working prototype over two terms. Past projects have involved hardware/embedded systems, communications networks, control systems, biomedical devices, renewable energy systems and mechatronics. Real-world constraints like safety, cost and timelines must be considered.
Faculty of Environment:
Environment & Resource Studies Capstone: Students undertake a major project related to addressing an environmental issue or sustainability challenge. This could involve research, policy analysis, program design or another applied project. Students present their work at a capstone conference at the end of the term. Past projects include developing environmental education programs, analyzing climate change policy, conducting ecological restoration projects and more.
Geography Capstone: In their final year, Geography students complete an individually-designed research project or internship under a faculty advisor’s supervision. Examples are conducting field research, creating mapping projects using GIS, undertaking policy analysis and planning projects related to topics like urbanization, climate change, resource management and more. Results are presented in a major written report and presentation.
Environment & Business Capstone: As a culminating experience, students participate in a sustainable business consulting project partnered with a local organization or business. Projects include conducting feasibility studies, developing business/marketing plans, making recommendations for improved operations/practices related to issues like renewable energy adoption, green building, ecotourism and more. Teams present their findings to the partner organization.
Faculty of Science:
Biology Capstone: Students undertake a research investigation in one of the research labs on campus, analyzing real scientific data and writing a research thesis. Past topics studied include biology of disease, genetics, genomics, evolution, biodiversity, ecology and more. The research experience culminates in a scientific poster presentation.
Chemistry Capstone: In their final year, Chemistry students complete an independent research project in a faculty supervisor’s research lab. Students gain hands-on laboratory experience conducting experiments, collecting and analyzing data towards addressing an open-ended research question. The project culminates in a major scientific paper and oral presentation of results.
Computer Science Capstone: Students apply their computing knowledge by working on an major software or hardware project either through an open-ended individual project or team-based project arranged with an outside partner. Examples include developing machine learning applications, designing databases, creating VR/AR systems, and developing novel hardware prototypes. Projects are demonstrated and evaluated at the end of term.
Physics Capstone: Students either complete an independent research project working with a faculty supervisor, or participate in an internship (usually in a private sector lab setting). Past Physics capstone projects have involved advancing fundamental research in fields like nanoscience, materials science, medical physics and more. The experience culminates in a major written report and oral presentation.
As these examples demonstrate, University of Waterloo capstone projects aim to give students authentic experiential learning opportunities to apply their disciplinary knowledge and teamwork skills by taking on a major applied project that mirrors real-world work or research in their field of study. Across all faculties, capstone experiences provide a culminating pedagogical approach for students to demonstrate and be evaluated on their readiness to transition to post-graduate opportunities or professional careers. The iterative process of conceptualizing, planning, executing and presenting capstone work helps bridge the gap between theoretical classroom learning and practical applied problem solving.