Multidisciplinary Urban Capstone Project

U of T’s deep urban expertise, across all fields, is tackling the future of cities. The School of Cities is where educators, institutions, practitioners and the public will engage in research, education and outreach to drive forward new city solutions – and a shared prosperity for all citizens.  

The Multidisciplinary Urban Capstone Project (MUCP) is a unique, full academic year capstone design course offered by the University of Toronto. All projects are sourced from cities, community groups and non-governmental organizations for whom the project addresses a real urban need, and requires a multidisciplinary approach to solve. 

Each project is assigned to a team of fourth-year undergraduates drawn from different disciplines. Student teams work through a creative, iterative, and open-ended design process to design solutions to meet client needs. Successfully completing the project requires that students integrate skills and knowledge from across multiple disciplines. Current participating undergraduate departments and faculties are Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Department of Geography and Planning, Rotman School of Management, the Urban Studies Program at Innis College, the Department of Sociology (UTSC and STG), and the Faculty of Information.

We are now accepting project submissions from organizations for the 2020-2021 academic year. Clients can submit a Statement of Need (SON) through the online submission form. The SON should define the general nature of the problem to be solved and it must require a design solution. More detailed information about the submission process can be found below under Prospective Clients.

For More Information

There are many reasons why your organization should participate in the MUCP:

  • Introduce innovative concepts and improvements to your organization;
  • Obtain solutions to key design issues;
  • Address problems requiring infusion of talented resources from multiple disciplines;
  • Leverage technical and theoretical multidiscipline knowledge;
  • Identify potential employees for your organization;
  • Gain access to the expertise of UofT faculty and students members and;
  • Build long-term relationships with departments at UofT.

Resources for Projects

Student Resources

Each project will consists of 3-5 students, each working approximately 10 hours per week for about 26 weeks.

Client Resources

The Client is expected to spend about 1-2 hours per week to support the project from September to March. This support includes timely access to any data essential for completing the project. The specific details and scope of the project are discussed in an initial meeting in September with the student team, faculty supervisor, and appropriate subject matter experts.

How to Participate

  • Request a Statement of Need (SON) form by sending an email to capstone.sofc@utoronto.ca or the online submission form at https://www.schoolofcities.utoronto.ca/mucp-son
  • The SON defines the general nature of the problem to be solved
  • Briefly explain the main idea or problem in one or two paragraphs
  • Include a problem/question that is specific enough so that a solution/answer will be recognizable, and requires a design solution. The problem/question should require a degree of sophistication to solve
  • An organization may submit multiple SONs 
  • Organizations can request for a Non-Disclosure Agreement to be signed by the students and supervisor.

Please review our overview on the design process PDF iconMUCP Design process.pdf

Completed SONs should be submitted before February 14th, 2020. For applicants that wish to apply past the deadline, please contact capstone.sofc@utoronto.ca

Accepting SON

Acceptance notifications will be issued within one week after the deadline.

Selection Criteria For Projects

High value of the Project to the Partner Organization

The project should have the potential for real, positive impact on the organization or its clients. Multidisciplinary projects will address an urban related issue or challenge that the organization needs resolved, but may not have the resources or knowledge to complete on their own.

Appropriate Level of Risk to the Partner Organization

The project should not unduly expose the organization or its clients to downside risk should there be any delays or failure to deliver on the part of the students

High Relevance of Project to Students

In order to provide each student with the opportunity to apply their disciplinary skills and knowledge, MUCP seeks projects that span at least three disciplines.

Contact us:

For questions and inquiries please email capstone.sofc@utoronto.ca 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Start and End time of the Course?

The course will run from September 2020 to March 2021 and will be equivalent to one full-year course of 10 hours per week for 26 weeks.

What can I have the students do?

The MUCP is not an internship or a co-op program. It is an independent research/capstone course. As such, student capacity will be limited to the time frame, in addition to their other course load. Clients should not expect students to go above the 10 hour per week commitment or have the same expectations of deliverables as an internship or co-op program. 

What kind of support do the teams need?

The Client is expected to spend about 1-2 hours per week to support the project from September to March. This includes answering questions posed by the team, and reviewing and critiquing the project on an ongoing basis. This support includes timely access to any data essential for completing the project. The specific details and scope of the project are discussed in an initial meeting in September with the student team, faculty supervisor, and appropriate subject matter experts.

Can I ask the students to continue working on the problem after the course has finalized?

Of course. You are welcome to do so but please discuss the matter with the student team. While the team is not required to continue work after the course ends, they may wish to volunteer to continue.

What is a Statement of Need? 

The Statement of Need (SON) provides students and faculty with an overview of your organization’s need. SON describes a problem that the team is to solve. The problem should be solvable using design-based methods (see next question). This will be clearly articulated in the Problem Statement component of the SON. However, the SON should not be prescriptive as to define an answer for the students.

The Scope of the Problem should also be clearly identified. For example, is there a geographic area? Are there specific components the students should consider? Which data set to use? What Experts are there to interview?

Sample SON format:  The problem of affordable housing. This below sections should expand, define, and articulate the constraints of providing affordable housing, and the broader specifications of need.

  1. Your organization’s need: Provide context for Organization X. 
  2. Project description: Organization X has resources A and B, but needs C to provide affordable housing. However, Organization X do not have resources to achieve C.
  3. Project requirements: Can you design a solution/answer to Organization X’s problem?
    1. Solution may be: How can you achieve C? Can we circumvent C? Is there an alternative to C? 

Most importantly, we hope the SON can provide the students with a rich, educational challenge, and will be of value to both the students and your organization. 

What is the “design process”?

A design process is a systematic problem-solving strategy, with criteria and constraints, used to develop many possible solutions to solve or satisfy human needs or wants and to narrow down the possible solutions to one final choice (ITEA Standards for Technological Literacy). The design process is used to explore the space for possible solutions or alternative solutions to the problem, from which the solution that best satisfies the requirements and constraints is selected. 

For more information, please review this PowerPoint: PDF iconMUCP Design process.pdf

What are the course deliverables?

The course assignments are designed to build towards achieving the course deliverables. The final deliverable will be a report that summarizes the research and investigation resulting from the design process. The following are the student deliverables:

  1. Project Requirements: defines the background of the problem, frames the problem, and outlines the scope. In addition, the Project Requirement should clearly state what the students expect from the Client, and the Client expectations for the students. 
  2. Design Proposal: The students are expected to explore and evaluate a number of potential solutions to arrive at a final solution informed to the best of their knowledge and propose the solution to the Client. 
  3. Design Review and Critique: The team will present and defend their design proposal. This is an opportunity to receive feedback and critique from the Clients and Supervisor(s), as well as additional direction.
  4. Final Report and Deliverable: The Final Report contains the complete design process from definition of the problem to the implementation of the solution and the results of testing (reflecting suitable iterations). It contains a discussion of the required future work in enough detail that the Client can implement the design without additional input from the Team. Elements of the final report may include drawings; analysis and simulation results, a prototype, etc. 

The MUCP is designed for exceptional fourth-year students who are looking for a unique, challenging capstone design experience. Students in the MUCP:

  • Apply knowledge, skills and processes from several disciplines to conduct analysis;
  • Demonstrate judgement as they integrate economic, environmental, social, and other pertinent interdisciplinary factors;
  • Incorporate teamwork, project management, and direct stakeholder and Client interaction; and
  • Prove the feasibility of their design concepts through simulation and prototyping.

Application Requirement:

Interested students from participating faculities and departments can submit their applications to capstone.sofc@utoronto.ca 

Your application should include:

  • Online application form
  • Statement of Interest (not to exceed 300 words). This statement should clearly assert your interest in participating in the course. 
  • Resume

Next round of applications opens March 30, 2020 along with project information

Student Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Am I eligible applying for it?

You are eligible to apply if you are scheduled to take a capstone course. MUCP is a substitute course, you can take it in place of your departmental capstone or independent thesis course. 

Can I source my own project?

All submitted MUCP need an external client. Students can source a project but it will have to be approved by the disciplinary capstone coordinator and the course coordinator. 

What resources/facilities does the university provide to support the project?

These facilities and resources are posted on the course website once registered in the course.

If my team needs technical support or advice, is there another source of expertise aside from our supervisor and client whom we can approach?

If your team knows a faculty that is an expert, the team can seek advice from that individual directly. Note that the capstone coordinators are subject matter experts by default. They can also help you. 

The Client is expected to spend about 1-2 hours per week to support the project from September to March. This support includes timely access to any data essential for completing the project. The specific details and scope of the project are discussed in an initial meeting in September with the student team, faculty supervisor, and appropriate subject matter experts. 

What is the time commitment?

Each student will work 10 hours per week for about 26 weeks. This includes 6 workshops hosted by the course Supervisor to support the design process and the delivery of the project.

Can I form my own team?

While students can form their own team, each team member must apply separately. The departments will select team members that best reflect the needs of the client. 

I am not a student of participating departments, can I still apply for the MUCP?

At this time MUCP is open to participating departments. If your department is not currently listed and you wish to apply, please contact us at capstone.sofc@utoronto.ca. You may request a written permission from your host department to participate in the course along with your Statement of Interest and resume. 

Current Projects