STRIDE Funds Master’s Capstone Projects at UNC Chapel Hill

The STRIDE Center provided funding for Capstone Projects at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Capstone Projects are required of students in the urban planning master’s program.

“Students at UNC ‘bring it all together’ by working on a Master’s Capstone Project during their final year of the program,” said Dr. Noreen McDonald, professor and chair of the UNC Department of City and Regional Planning. “The project lets them go deep on what really interests them.”

Students worked with faculty and external clients to develop and execute project ideas. The projects were very diverse and included developing a bike plan for a local town, creating an interactive data dashboard on travel behavior in the U.S., and analyzing a local transit system’s efforts to use ride-hailing for first-mile access.

STRIDE funding has greatly benefited students, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Students faced extraordinary challenges due to COVID,” Dr. McDonald said. “In response we created the MP Seed Fellowship program which provided funds for students to work on their project during the summer.”

STRIDE funds provided critical support and professional experience during a time when most internships were being cancelled. The selection process involved faculty who reviewed proposals for the Master’s Project (MP) Seed Fellowship. STRIDE funding was prioritized for projects that addressed critical transportation questions impacting congestion.

“STRIDE funding supports top transportation planning students at Carolina by directly supporting their education and allowing us to support TRB attendance along with regular talks related to transportation careers and topics,” McDonald said.