MSIS Capstone

To enhance the hands-on focus of the MSIS program, students complete a capstone as the culmination of their degree. Students choose between a Sponsored Project and a Certification option. The capstone allows students to gain in-depth experience in key areas of business and technology. The capstone is worth three credit hours and is completed in three parts:

2. Capstone Planning

3. Capstone Execution

Project Options

Sponsored Project

Students who pursue a sponsored project work in groups to complete a consulting project for a small or large business or nonprofit organization. Students conduct research and analysis and work to implement findings in order to improve their sponsor’s information systems practices. Some of our recent sponsors include Larry H. Miller Auto Group, Utah Transit Authority (UTA), Workers Compensation Fund, TwitchTV, Extra Space Storage, and various departments at the University of Utah.

Ace Intermountain Recycling Sample Project

Project Summary: The objective was to automate a monthly Excel scorecard used by staff and executives at Ace Intermountain Recycling. The project team delivered a scorecard that was easily accessible via a web browser displaying the information and metrics that were originally calculated manually. The new scorecard can be accessed at any time, is continuously updated, and easy for management to maintain.

Sponsoring Company Background: Ace Intermountain Recycling Center (AIRC) operates transfer stations for recycled materials, green waste, and other garbage in the Salt Lake Valley and surrounding areas. The AIRC scorecard built by this project accumulates different metrics, allowing management to easily view revenue, costs, and other productivity trends.

Project Timeline: Sponsored capstone projects span two semesters. The first semester is used for project selection and planning. The project is executed in the next semester (about 30 weeks total).

Project Planning and Execution: The main technologies used were SQL, Microsoft Power BI, Python, and REST APIs. The first phase of the project execution was dedicated to creating data connections between the server and each data source; the next phase was cleaning and transforming the raw data into usable datasets with Power BI. SharePoint was utilized to present the dashboard with all its metrics in one central location.

“For anyone who’s skeptical about doing a project over a certification, I would strongly recommend the project. It offers so much experience, which is primarily what employers are looking for. I have certifications for other things, but I always get asked in interviews about the experience. Many times, I’m in an interview and they say, ‘Tell us about a challenge you experienced’ and this capstone project is always an option for one. There are so many times when, in answer to an interview question, I can think back to my capstone project.”

– Andy Adamson, project manager

“[The sponsored capstone project] benefitted my technical skills a lot. We never really worked with APIs throughout my other classes, and in this project we did work with a couple of APIs directly. We utilized Python in a real-world situation, and then we also utilized Microsoft’s Power BI platform quite extensively. I’ve been utilizing all three of those technologies in my current project at work. I gained real-world technical skills with real-world situations and it’s been benefitting my work projects.”

– Connor Bryner, team member

“You always learn new things and get put in environments that you are completely unfamiliar with. There’s just a lot of learning to be done in that kind of space and it looks good on the resume to have a real project you worked on and completed. … [I chose this project because] it seemed like a small company that I could really do a lot for, which I think also makes it fun. I felt like I could make a big difference; they would actually use what I did if I did it well.”

– Jared Kujawa, team member


Students interested in completing a professional certification can earn credit for doing so through the capstone course. Students can choose from a number of mid- to upper-level certification options that are approved to meet this requirement. Certification exams are completed individually, though students are encouraged to work together when studying. Exam and study material costs are paid by the student. Some certification options may have pre- or co-requisite MSIS course requirements.

There are three primary levels of certification:

  • Entry Level – Great options for people new to IT and related fields or who are learning a specific technology. Examples include A+, Security+, ScrumMaster, Tableau, etc.
  • Associate Level – Designed for more specialized areas in IT, some level of experience and previous certification may be required. These comprise (ISC)2 SSCP, CAPM, and various AWS Associate Certifications as well as specialty certifications such as AWS Security, and certifications from IAPP.
  • Professional Level – These are certifications that require significant experience, as well as training and often someone to sponsor or certify your experience. These include the CISSP, CISM, CISA, CRISC, PMP, and any SANS/GIAC certification based on a 400-level course (or higher) such as GSEC, GCED, etc.

Capstone Leadership

The faculty members leading the capstone bring a wealth of combined industry experience to the MSIS program. As leaders of the capstone, they advise students, oversee capstone requirements, recruit sponsors, and provide support as students complete this challenging program component.

Associate Professor, MSIS Capstone Director, Projects Capstone Manager

Dave Norwood

Certifications Capstone Manager

Leslie Fife

Associate Professor, MSIS Capstone Director, Projects Capstone Manager

Dave Norwood

Certifications Capstone Manager

Leslie Fife