Driving Innovation Through Collaboration: CDS Capstone Course Delivers Value for Industry Partners

NYU Center for Data Science
3 min readApr 30, 2024

In a world where data has become the new oil, businesses are constantly seeking innovative ways to harness its power and stay ahead of the competition. However, many companies find themselves grappling with complex data challenges that require specialized expertise and fresh perspectives. This is where CDS’ Capstone Course comes in, offering a groundbreaking approach to industry-academia collaboration that is transforming the landscape of data science.

The Capstone Program is a mutually beneficial partnership between CDS MS students and industry collaborators. By working on real-world projects sponsored by businesses and research labs, students gain hands-on experience and valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities facing the industry. In return, partners benefit from having a dedicated team of highly skilled data science students working on their projects who bring innovative solutions to the table.

Tayyibah Khanam, a student in the Fall 2023 Capstone course offering, highlights the value of the program’s project matching process for both students and industry partners. “I was matched with a top choice, aligning with my genuine interest,” she said, reflecting on her experience working on an NLP project in the finance and legal sectors. This alignment of interests ensures that students are fully invested in the projects they work on, leading to better outcomes for industry partners.

The Capstone Program covers a wide range of data science disciplines, from machine learning and natural language processing to big data analysis and data visualization. This diverse range of skills and expertise allows industry partners to tackle complex problems and explore new opportunities in their respective fields.

Annabelle Huether, Mary Nwangwu, and Allison Redfern, a Capstone group from Fall 2023 who worked with NYU Assistant Professor of Political Science, Aaron Kaufman, emphasized the value of the course in developing practical skills that are directly applicable to industry needs. “Through the project, we were able to refine our abilities to carry out a practical methodology and effectively communicate results. Learning to optimize HPC configurations and preprocess messy data were invaluable lessons, allowing us to tackle similar obstacles in future projects,” they shared. These skills are highly sought after by industry partners, who recognize the importance of having data scientists who can not only analyze data but also communicate their findings effectively.

One notable example of the program’s success is a Fall 2023 Capstone project that turned into a published paper. The project, which focused on developing Network Intrusion Detection Systems using ML techniques, was mentored by CDS Assistant Professor of Music Technology and Data Science Brian McFee from CDS and Diego Troy Lopez, Robert Pahle, and Lilas Alrahis from the High Speed Research Network (HSRN) team. One of the students, Zhengyao Gu, continued working on the project during the winter and wrote a paper extending his capstone work, which was recently accepted to the International Symposium on Quality Electronic Design (ISQED) conference. This outcome highlights the potential for Capstone projects to lead to impactful research and publications, demonstrating the value of the program for both students and industry partners.

But the benefits of partnering with the Capstone Course go beyond just the project outcomes. By working closely with CDS students and faculty, industry partners have the opportunity to build long-term relationships and establish themselves as leaders in the data science community. They also gain access to a pipeline of top talent, with some Capstone students going on to work for their project sponsors after graduation.

As the demand for data science expertise continues to grow, partnerships between academia and industry will become increasingly important. CDS’ Capstone Course is at the forefront of this trend, providing a model for collaboration that delivers tangible benefits for all involved. For businesses looking to stay ahead in the data-driven economy, participating in the Capstone Course is an investment in the future — one that pays dividends in terms of innovation, talent, and long-term success.

By Stephen Thomas



NYU Center for Data Science

Official account of the Center for Data Science at NYU, home of the Undergraduate, Master’s, and Ph.D. programs in Data Science.