Real Data, Big Impact

Prove Yourself as an Analytics Professional with Your Capstone Project

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Your capstone project is the largest challenge that you will face as a student in the Master of Science in Analytics. You will spend three quarters working with your client to define your research question, collect and prepare data, and implement and refine your modeling approach. Finally, you will prepare and present meaningful recommendations to your client based on the results of your analysis. Your capstone project will prove that you are capable of preparing a rigorous analysis of real-life data in order to deliver real impact to your client organization.

You will work in a team of two to three students with a faculty advisor and client organization to address a business problem. Teams may identify their own company with a business problem, or teams may pick a data analytics problem supplied by MScA industry research partners.

Earn and Practice These Skills During Your Capstone Project:

  1. Develop the ability to design an analytics research project
  2. Frame a business problem in a way that could be addressed using analytics
  3. Identify the knowledge—an analytics tool or algorithm—that will address this problem
  4. Develop a methodological framework to produce a practical solution
  5. Implement the analytics methodology
  6. Communicate the findings of the research effectively in both written and oral presentations

Featured Capstone Projects

Learn more about the projects featured in the video. 

Goose Island Beer Company Project

Background: Growing a Craft Brewery

Founded in 1988, the Goose Island Beer Company experienced consistent growth during its early years as it expanded globally and added a larger brewery and two Chicago-based brewpub locations. Following on years of strong performance, the company was bought by Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2011 for nearly $40 million.

But due to competition and an evolving landscape of consumer preferences, the $26 billion craft beer industry experienced stalling growth rates in subsequent years, which Goose Island sought to offset by refreshing its portfolio of brands, reconnecting with consumers, and launching innovations to compete across categories. Goose Island also increased its sales staff from 10 to 15 representatives as a strategy to increase sales volume

While working in the Chicago market with two major distributors, which serve as intermediaries between brewers and end-retailers, Goose Island also makes direct contact with end-retailers through its sales representatives, who work routes aligned with distributors’ geographical boundaries. The routes, however, have traditionally been difficult to demarcate efficiently and the additional sales representatives were not sufficient of themselves to increase sales volume. 

Capstone Project: Improve Sales by Identifying Opportunities

The Goose Island capstone project team of James Bushnell, Will Nunez, and Jon Worhty, premised their project on Goose Island’s belief that achieving the company’s sales objectives would involve deploying its sales representatives to the right neighborhoods while also determining the end-retailers within those neighborhoods most likely to increase sales volume. To that end, the team focused its research around segmenting Goose Island’s current accounts and identifying potential customer opportunities for the purpose of forecasting sales and optimizing personnel allocation to current and potential customers.

By leveraging a variety of rich internal and external data sources, the team developed an approach that classified customer types based on sales patterns. They then used those results to model sales into the future and proposed a sales organization structure that would maximize barrel sales. 

The capstone team’s research and analysis successfully delivered Goose Island’s key objectives and they presented their conclusions to Goose Island’s president and sales directors in June 2019. Their results suggest that Goose Island can improve sales by as much as 72% in the Chicago area.

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Scholle IPN Project

Background: Vertically Integrated Manufacturing of Unique Products

Scholle IPN is a vertically integrated manufacturing company that has pioneered the production of bag-in-box packaging solutions. From film extrusion to injection molding and equipment engineering, the company’s team of engineers refines and customizes its bags and pouches while drawing on the resources of its global material science lab.

Tomato bags represent one of Scholle IPN’s top manufactured items, with the company maintaining roughly 90% of the market. In addition to tomato bags, Scholle produces a wide range of other packaging products, ranging across the food and beverage industry and also including packaging for agricultural chemicals and beauty and personal care. 

Despite evident seasonality within tomato bag sales, there is also variability, with the range of tomato bags Scholle IPN sells each harvest season ranging between 1.7-2.1 million. Such volatility in bag sales poses a challenge to effective planning and results in lost revenue from production shortages as well as excess inventory costs stemming from oversupplies in product and materials.

Project: Manufacture Products More Efficiently with Better Demand Forecasting

Prior to the capstone project, the company’s forecasting methodology for tomato bag sales combined historical sales data with additional input and adjustments made based on sales team input. 

The capstone team of Adetola Adedeji, Bob Knox, and Xiaolei Zhang sought to create a model to forecast tomato bag demand by monitoring social media channels for mentions of tomato-related products and using these variables to predict demand. This team worked in concert with other Analytics students addressing Scholle IPN’s goal from different angles including crop yield data, relevant economic factors, and related products. 

In the end, the team identified for Scholle IPN the most significant factors for predicting tomato bag demand and incorporated them into a model that could then be integrated into the company’s information technology system. The team also provided the company with the framework behind the model as well as recommendations for future work so that Scholle IPN can implement this approach and manufacture more efficiently.

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