Texas A&M University places a strong emphasis on cross-disciplinary capstone projects that allow students to integrate knowledge and skills from multiple fields to solve real-world problems. These types of projects provide invaluable experience for students as they prepare to enter a workforce that increasingly demands collaboration and innovative thinking.
One example of a large cross-disciplinary capstone project undertaken by Texas A&M students in recent years was developing accessible technology solutions for people with disabilities. A team of students from computer science, engineering, industrial distribution, and spatial sciences came together to design and prototype new assistive devices. They conducted user research, developed prototypes using 3D printing and other methods, and tested their solutions with people who have disabilities. The project addressed real needs and pushed the students to think beyond their individual disciplines.
Another notable project involved designing off-grid renewable energy solutions for rural communities in developing nations that lack access to traditional electricity infrastructure. Students from fields like mechanical engineering, construction science, agriculture, and geospatial science worked as an interdisciplinary team. They proposed customized energy systems combining solar, wind, biomass, and battery technologies that could provide power for vital community services like schools and medical clinics. Part of their work involved researching the technical specifications needed as well as evaluating socioeconomic and environmental sustainability factors.
Texas A&M students have also taken on ambitious global health challenges through cross-disciplinary collaboration. One capstone project brought together students from fields such as biomedical engineering, architecture, nutrition, and health promotion. They partnered with a non-profit organization helping rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. The goal was to develop an integrated approach for addressing multiple health issues like waterborne diseases, malnutrition, and limited access to medical care. Their proposed solutions included designing inexpensive water filtration systems, educational programs on hygiene and nutrition, and preliminary plans for a multi-purpose health clinic. Getting input from local community members was also a key part of their work.
Yet another example of an impactful cross-disciplinary project involved developing flood prevention and response strategies for parts of India that regularly suffer damages from seasonal monsoon rains and river flooding. An international team of civil engineering, geoscience, hydrology, agricultural, and public policy students worked on this challenge. They created sophisticated hydrological and risk modeling to map flood-prone areas and help with evacuation planning. The group also proposed more permanent solutions such as improved drainage systems, flood walls, raising homes on stilts, and implementing agricultural best practices to reduce erosion during heavy rains. Coordinating with local governments was a significant aspect of validating their recommendations.
Staying within the state of Texas, one capstone brought together students from disciplines like construction science, landscape architecture, urban planning, and business administration. They partnered with the city of Bryan to develop a strategic revitalization plan for its downtown area aimed at improving economic, social and environmental sustainability. Proposals included renovating historic buildings, introducing mixed-use redevelopment projects, upgrading parks and public spaces, developing the arts district, enhancing walkability and bicycle infrastructure, recruiting targeted businesses and entrepreneurs, and capitalizing on events and cultural amenities to drive visitation to the area. Careful financial modeling and buy-in from key local stakeholder groups were crucial dimensions of the project.
Moving to a more technology-focused example, computer science and electrical engineering students teamed up with kinesiology and sports management majors on a project centered around developing new performance analytics and training tools for athletes. They designed smartphone apps, wearable sensors, and data visualization dashboards to help quantify physical metrics like speed, distances covered, jumps completed, heart rate variability, and more during games and practice. Machine learning algorithms were also applied to identify patterns and optimally target areas for improvement. Coaches and athletes testing the prototypes found them highly useful for gaining new data-driven insights into physical performance, injury prevention and developing personalized training regimens.
This covers just a sampling of the extensive cross-disciplinary work undertaken in capstone projects at Texas A&M University. As this overview illustrates, bringing together diverse areas of expertise to address complex challenges mirrors real-world problems that do not fall neatly into single disciplines. These collaborative experiences provide immense value in preparing Aggie graduates to be innovative leaders capable of driving meaningful change.