From Undergraduate (Software) Capstone Projects to Start-ups: Challenges and Opportunities in Higher Institutions of Learning

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Middle East Conference on Software Engineering
The capstone project is a fundamental part of almost all science and engineering degrees. It is not only a requirement for the partial fulfillment of an accredited university programme but also a method of assessing the students’ general mastery of concepts, critical thinking, problem-solving, and transferable skills. Annually, final-year undergraduate students offering computing programmes in Uganda build innovative software solutions to real-world problems within and outside their community. Anecdotal evidence indicates that most of those innovations have the potential for commercialization and transformation into technology-based businesses. However, limited progress has been made to commercialize students’ projects, and promising solutions are “buried” within academic reports. To this end, our research aims to explain the challenges and opportunities in the commercialization of students’ capstone projects across two (2) undergraduate computing programmes (Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Bachelor of Information Technology) offered at Gulu University in Uganda. Using exploratory research design, we reviewed eighty-six (86) capstone projects, curricula, and a facilitated students & stakeholders’ workshop report. This paper articulates factors hindering the commercialization of undergraduate software capstone projects and recommends mitigating measures. It also proposes a framework for extending capstone course design from a traditional curriculum structure to an inclusive industry and community-oriented approach capable of turning ideas into business start-ups. The findings from this research are expected to inform higher institutions of learning in Africa in developing novel pedagogical approaches for orchestrating (software) capstone project courses that are inclusive and profitable beyond the academic setting.
Software Engineering, Capstone Projects, Start-ups, Commercialization
Ogenrwot, D., Tabo, G. O., Aber, K., & Nakatumba-Nabende, J. (2022, June). From Undergraduate (Software) Capstone Projects to Start-ups: Challenges and Opportunities in Higher Institutions of Learning. In Proceedings of the Federated Africa and Middle East Conference on Software Engineering (pp. 73-82).