This week marks one of my favorite weeks of the year professionally. It is the week where the students in the Applied IT program at George Mason present their final projects for the Capstone Program. I have been a member of the Industry Advisory Board now for over 3 years and one of the ways I help out is by sitting on the judges panel for their final projects.
The goal of the program is to teach students the skills they need to be successful in the work environment. The Capstone Class specifically places the students into teams who then go off and work with real businesses to identify areas in which Information technology can improve the business. The team operates as consultants for the business by learning about the business and identifying some potential areas for improvement in the 492 class. Then in the 493 class they develop working prototypes of their solutions and present them to the judges.
It is always impressive to me to see the ideas the students come up with and the quality solutions that can be developed over the course of just months. More impressive to me though is how interested the class is in learning from the feedback they get from the judges and how professional they act towards their the judges, their clients, their professors and most importantly their peers.
Often times owning a business can be a very frustrating endeavor with government shutdowns, budget cuts and other items that have a way of sucking the energy and motivation out of me. Things like the Capstone program serve as a means to re-energize me professionally and remind me that I really do love what I do. The energy and excitement the students show during this week is contagious and for that reason I am excited to be volunteering this week.