Carnegie Mellon University

Capstone Project 

The MITS Capstone Project provides students with an opportunity to apply concepts learned in the program’s core and concentration area courses. Projects may be sponsored by industry, academia, or government organizations. While projects may vary in domain and concentration area, they provide MITS students the opportunity to learn by doing. 

Past Projects

BEND Framework: Understanding Emotional Imagery Online

BEND Framework: Understanding Emotional Imagery Online

Information operations from corporate branding and marketing to political influence campaigns require generating and interpreting messages. Often these messages are text and increasingly involve audio or visual information such as sound snippets, images, and videos. Currently there exist sound solutions for interpreting text-based messages, such as the BEND framework, as well as solutions for interpreting emoji and emoticons. However, audio and image solutions lag behind.  

In this project, students have extracted emotions from multimodal information online in order to understand public opinion and sentiment toward political figures, policies, or events across different platforms. They were successfully able to tailor communication strategies for political campaigns across text, images, and audio for better resonance as well as targeting detection of misinformation in political campaigns on social media platforms geared toward younger audiences.

Team Members: Meng Zhou, Errol Brown, Yue Jiang, Zengyongxi Deng, Devashish Sanjay Ubale, and Henry George Xu

Sponsoring Company: IDeaS Center 

Security Chaos Engineering

Security Chaos Engineering

Large-scale distributed systems have unpredictable and complex outcomes that are costly when incidents occur. Our systems are becoming more and more distributed, ephemeral, and immutable in how they function in today’s ever-evolving landscape of contemporary engineering practices. Not only are we becoming more complex but the rate of velocity in which our systems are now interacting and evolving is making the work more challenging for us humans. In this shifted paradigm, it is becoming problematic to comprehend the operational state, health, and safety of our systems. 

To address this, the MITS student team intentionally introduced chaos to test system resilience and stress response. In doing so, the team gained insights into best practices for security configurations, identified security vulnerabilities, and acknowledged the imperative for ongoing improvements in AWS security practices.

Team Members: Caiyu Wang, Yiliu Xu, Jiangni Ren, Emma Cai, Yimin Ding, and Jelani Dula

Sponsoring Company: Software Engineering Institute

Security Assessment for IoT Devices

Security Assessment for IoT Devices

The rise in the Internet of Things (IoT) usage broadens the landscape for potential cyber threats. Security methods to ensure privacy have not kept up with the increase in IoT devices in the marketplace, including those used in customers’ home environments. 

To address this challenge, MITS team members conducted a risk assessment and identified the largest security threats to IoT devices commonly found in office spaces and smart homes. They then analyzed four security programs in order to recommend the best alternative for those IoT devices. 

Team members: Peilin Miao, Gengyuan Zhang, Jingyuan Wang, Yen-Ju Pon, and Yijia Yuan

Sponsoring Company: Acronis



Object Detection for Autonomous Vehicles

Object Detection for Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous driving vehicles rely heavily on predefined labels of objects to assist in their capacity to travel safely. However, these labels are incomplete because traditional object detection models do not account for objects which are not recognized. 

To address this gap, MITS team members developed a system that detects all objects, including known and unknown, from images and videos captured by autonomous driving vehicles. They then reviewed these images, verified each known object, and labeled all unrecognized objects. The finished system filtered out known objects and noise and clustered unknown objects together, thereby reducing the need to manually label each object.

Team members: Manish Agnihotri, Joshua Kim, Yumeng Li, Yinghuan Zhang

Sponsoring Company: Tata Consultancy Services

Sponsor Information

Projects should focus on MITS concentration topic areas and provide an opportunity for students to apply program-specific content and/or practices to address some strategic or policy concern, issue, or challenge. Projects may cut across one or more concentration areas. This provides opportunities for students to work in teams with diverse interests and expertise.


DATA ANALYTICS – This concentration focuses on the mastery of techniques such as: machine learning, social network analysis, large-scale data reduction and filtering, and the application of these techniques to the development of strategies to advance the organizational mission.

Data Analytics projects should broadly focus on:

  • Collection of data in some organizational context.
  • Analysis of data and identification of trends in the data.
  • Strategic analysis utilizing data and trends to explore alternative strategies, identify future strategic direction, evaluate the fitness of existing strategies, and so forth.

POLITICS AND STRATEGY - This concentration focuses on developing a sound reasoning framework and the critical thinking skills necessary to develop effective policies and strategies for those decision makers who will shape the future of their technology intensive organizations.

Politics and Strategy projects should broadly focus on:

  • Analysis of micro/macro socio-political-organizational policies and strategies with the intent to understand the history, current circumstances, and consequences of existing policies and strategies.
  • Determine and evaluate the future impact and socio-political-organizational consequences of existing or proposed policies and strategies.
  • Proposing alternative policies and strategies and providing an analysis of their socio-political-organizational impact.

INFORMATION SECURITY – This concentration focuses on developing an understanding of cyber-attacks and equipping students to address the threats and consequences of cyber-attacks through sound information security strategies and policies.

Information Security projects should broadly focus on:

  • Evaluation of security policies, practices, and technologies.
  • Threat analysis of organizational application and data assets.
  • Formulation of strategies to address current and emerging threats to data and application security within the organization/enterprise to include: proposing alternative strategies, strategic direction, evaluate the fitness of existing strategies and technology suites, and so forth.

SOFTWARE AND NETWORKED SYSTEMS – This concentration focuses on developing an understanding of systems and software comprising organizational information infrastructure assets to better manage their design, development, and procurement of systems and service, through sound strategies and policies.

Software and Networked Systems projects should broadly focus on:

  • Current network systems and software technology trends and the various ecosystems prevalent today.
  • Risks and challenges associated with managing, designing, developing, and procuring systems hardware, software, and infrastructures.
  • The role systems and software have in the strategies utilized to support and advance an organization’s business goals and/or mission objectives.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A: Sponsoring companies benefit by receiving the most innovative solution ideas to designated problems based on our students’ curricular experiences with top trained and prestigious professionals in computer science, software engineering, and political science. Sponsors also receive first-hand experience with soon-to-be-graduates who could be prime candidates for filling future employment needs. Past sponsors have also historically leveraged the Capstone project as a way to develop connections to students and faculty for future collaborations with Carnegie Mellon University.

A: Project sponsorships are an important culminating aspect of our professional master’s MITS program. When asked to sponsor a proposed project, an organization is invited to give a philanthropic gift in support of CMIST and the MITS scholarship fund. While this gift donation is not required to get a proposed project approved, it does go a long way toward helping sustain the exceptional academic experience of our graduate students. 

For each approved project, our highly-trained students are tasked with exploring innovative technology solutions for a given strategic problem or set of problems that the organization has identified. Student groups work for 14 weeks to synthesize and test workable solutions for an organization’s specific needs. Some examples of projects might include helping to improve their efficiency, internal work-flow processes, cybersecurity responses, and overall use of technology by organizational stakeholders.

A: One person will act as a technical point-of-contact at your organization. This person will spend approximately 1-2 hours per week to meet with the student team. This individual will help to develop the scope of the project and give real-time feedback to student groups as they work through different solution ideas. There is an additional commitment expectation that representatives from the sponsoring company attend the final project presentations at the end of the semester.  

A: Carnegie Mellon University prides itself on prioritizing entrepreneurship for their students and as a result, student groups will own any IP that is created as a result of their project.  Many students have negotiated the sale of IPs with sponsoring companies after the project is completed and these rates have historically been hyper-competitive compared to their assumed market value. 

A: The constant need to evolve technologies as the market demands creates the perfect opportunity for our students to learn experientially. For this reason, any organization that utilizes technology in any internal or external capacity can be a perfect fit for this project. Our past projects have ranged from research-intensive projects to the testing, creation, or implementation of new software within an organization. A strong project proposal encompasses potential work that spans at least one of our MITS concentrations (Data Analytics, Software and Networked Systems, Information Security, or Politics and Strategy) but many past projects have required a wide range of these concentrations to arrive at the best solution recommendations.