“The purpose of VenueTourist’s Capstone Project was to determine the best market niche for virtual tours and how to best sell to that niche. In order to determine the best market niche, we explored three separate industries: universities, corporations, and venue owners. The evaluation of ‘best market’ was based on ease of sale and willingness to pay. After conducting sales efforts – email outreach, meetings, and if we were successful, contract signature – in each niche, it was determined the university market was both easiest to sell to and had the highest willingness to pay. The second question, what is the best way to sell to universities, was evaluated by seeking advice from mentors in our industry and then testing said advice.

Advice from mentors for sales strategies included cold emailing, cold calls, campus ambassador programs, traveling to university dense areas, going to conferences, and more. Initial results showed campus ambassadors and traveling to university dense areas as the best sales methods in order to maximize potential revenue (probability of closing sale * price of potential sale). From these results, VenueTourist has concluded the best path for growth is to create a small team of skilled sales ambassadors and have them travel to university dense cities in order to sell our virtual tours.”

Check out their Capstone poster here!: Venue Tourist Capstone Poster

Team members:

Connor Tullis, BBA, 2020
Sven Wollschlaeger, BBA & CS, 2021


“The problem that we are solving is people’s inability to have a say in the music playing around them in a party and other social settings. Currently, everyone in the party is at the mercy of the party host, or the owner of the phone attached to the speakers. Many times, peoples’ unique song tastes cause them to argue about which songs to play, causing people in the party not to have a good time. Our solution is to make it as seamless as possible for everyone in the party to have a say in the music playing. Based on our analysis of the current ecosystem involving music streaming services, businesses and college students, we created UpNext, a live collaborative playlist iOS application. Using UpNext, anyone can add any songs they want and vote on songs; songs with higher vote scores will be played earlier. In attempt to establish product-market fit, we had been constantly gathering data through our user’s use cases through Firebase Analytics, as well as personal interviews and surveys with our users. Our Student Ambassadors had also been spreading UpNext to new users and gaining feedback from these users. In addition, using UpNext in bars in Ann Arbor had also been a good source of data and research into the features needed by bars. The result shows that UpNext solves a problem faced by many college students. UpNext has amassed over 1000 users in Ann Arbor with 150 weekly active users. In addition, 2 bars in Ann Arbor use UpNext as their source of music daily.”

Check out their Capstone poster here!:

Up Next Capstone Poster

Team members:

Raymond Sukanto, Business & Computer Science 2020
Daniel Kaper, Computer Science, 2020
Victor Mahdavi, Business, 2020
Matthew Samaan, Organizational Studies, 2020

The dot org

“We are The Dot Org, an organization dedicated to reducing the stigma surrounding menstruation and providing greater access to menstrual hygiene products. We are passionate about our project, because as women who experience menstruation, we have seen the effects it can have on social and mental health. Through summer research, we also understand the effects menstruation has on those who experience homelessness. We began our project by collecting data about the multiple target populations within the geographical community with which we wished to study. We successfully conducted a focus group, interviews, a survey, and a literary review on the range of how menstruation can negatively affect the lives of those in Ann Arbor, as well as how the stigma surrounding menstruation originated. We learned that providing greater accessibility to menstrual products would improve the lives of members in our community, and decided to increase accessibility to free menstrual products in local businesses, schools, and homeless shelters. We partnered with businesses such as BlueLep, Study Hall Lounge, and SavCo, and collected data on products we provided them to show them that the products were worth providing if they were affordable to the business. After collecting data for Blue Lep and Study Lounge we found that tampons are used more frequently than pads and people really appreciated having the products there, even if they did not need them. We also worked with Hill House, Pease House, and MISSION to collect data on menstruators experiencing poverty and homelessness, and learned about their preferences and menstrual experiences. To reduce the stigma surrounding menstruation, we hosted two awareness events and hosted member meetings to talk about how the stigma can affect people’s lives. We also put free products in the Campus Library restroom with facts about menstruation attached.

In the end we found that people do want products in the bathrooms even if they themselves do not need it every time they are there. They like the message that is being sent and would like to see it more places. The economic impact on the companies implementing the distribution is low and would take very little effort to continue after the pilot and the benefits outweigh the costs.”

Check out their Capstone poster here!: the dot org poster

Team members:

Gabby Morin, Sociology of Health and Medicine, Pre-dental, 2020

Nina Serr, Biology Health & Society, Entrepreneurship, 2020
Justine Burt, Business Administration, 2021
Mallory Demeter, Business Administration, 2021


“The purpose of our project was that validate the pains of high school students when applying to college, and then develop a solution. The team hosted focus groups, completed market research (benchmarking), and conducted interviews to draft a business proposal. We identified understanding the “standards” of the application process and stress as the main pain points of our customers and have developed a prototype that we hope to continue testing. We have completed proofing our survey and algorithms and have drastically simplified the original sequences after receiving customer feedback. Moving forward, we are looking to test our prototype in actual schools.”

Check out their Capstone poster here!: Nav Next Steps Poster

Team members:

Grace Wang, BBA, 2021
Jessica Vinagolu-Brar, Pyschology 2021

Migrant Education Initiative (MEI)

“The Migrant Education Initiative (MEI) is working with the Van Buren Intermediate School District (VBISD) to create an initiative aiming to bring more students of Migrant backgrounds to the University of Michigan. The VBISD is located in Van Buren county, an area with one of the highest Migrant populations in the state of Michigan- it’s the largest migrant-serving program in the state. This past summer, we conducted four focus groups, and surveyed over 60 parents and students to gather their opinions and perceptions of higher education. Even though most of these parents did not attend college, both them and their children were eager to achieve at least a bachelor degree. With a lack of representation of both migrant and Latinx student populations at the University of Michigan, MEI will assist in bringing these hopeful students to our four-year university. With our recent partnership with VBISD, we hope to bring this group of students to the University of Michigan over the summer, and launch an application incentive program to get these students the best chance of achieving their goal as possible.”

Check out their Capstone poster here!: MEI Capstone Poster

Team members:

Victoria Villegas, BA Sociology ‘20

Amanda Gomez, BS Information ‘19


“Heal-Move-Shift (HMS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that aims to actively educate and partner with Middle Eastern and North African (ME/NA) communities regarding three tenets of health: Cardiovascular, Nutritional, and Mental Health. The target mission is to Heal the community, Move the conversation towards a healthier direction, and Shift the stigma away from pressing health concerns through creative and active engagement with Detroit and Ann Arbor communities, along with education programs unique to each community’s pressing health concerns.
Youth in the Middle Eastern and North African communities face barriers toward health education and access and Heal-Move-Shift acts as the middlemen to help bridge this gap. HMS implemented seminar-based programs in high schools where members of the partnered community educate youth through seminar-based programs. After an initial Pilot Program in Central Academy, Heal-Move-Shift expanded to parts of Detroit and Metro Detroit to reach larger Middle Eastern and North African (ME/NA) youth communities. This Winter, HMS will implement its wellness program in Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Dearborn Heights at Central Academy, Dearborn High School, and Crestwood High School respectively.

Heal-Move-Shift research consist of collecting data by pre-seminar and post-seminar surveys from each wellness program seminar. The surveys are imperative in examining trends in student responses and correlate that to the overall effectiveness of our seminars. For the Central Academy pilot program eight entrance and exit surveys were given to students. Questions regarding the seminars ask participants to indicate the overall quality of the seminar (instruction, topics, activities) and their understanding of the topic discussed that seminar. Using data that is already available regarding health disparities in immigrant population, the goal is to compile all relevant information to assess the most appropriate way to address the problem and define any gaps in data that we may need to address through both preliminary research and school-based research.”

Check out their Capstone poster here!: HMS Capstone Poster

Team members:

Tariq Mekkaoui – Biomolecular Science, 2020
Mariam Reda – Creative Writing, 2020
Mohsin Arsiwala- Public Health, 2021

Being First: A Podcast for Bridging the First-Gen Gap

“The Being First podcast lifts the voice of first generation college students while shedding light on the issues that these students face through dialogue about social capital and how to acquire it, candid conversations about the first-gen experience, and challenging the first-gen landscape of the university. Through recording sessions with stakeholders and students in this community, we’ve found that the thread that runs through every first is resilience and grit necessary to level the post-secondary playing field.” 

Check out their Capstone poster here!: Being First Capstone Poster

Team Members:

Lance Bitner-Laird, Sociology, May 2019
Carlos Henderson, Sociology, May 2019

Alternate Reality Initiative (ARI)

“The Alternate Reality Initiative (ARI) is the first student organization at the University of Michigan centered around virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (XR) technology. After seeing a lack of hardware access and learning opportunities, we created ARI to provide opportunities for students to explore, learn, build, and connect with XR technology. Through weekly meetings, ARI is fostering a community of the next generation of XR innovators by hosting development workshops, discussing industry news, and connecting students to opportunities in the greater XR ecosystem.

Over this summer, our team worked with four key stakeholders: ARI members, XR student organizations, XR faculty, and XR companies. After interviewing past members, we learned that it was difficult to discover us, so we increased our marketing and recruiting efforts. From other universities’ student organizations, we learned best practices on supporting project teams and also gained a better understanding of our growth potential. From faculty, we learned that they’re excited about our student-led organization, and we are working with them to provide resources and research opportunities to more students. Finally, from XR companies, we’ve been able to hear their perspective on the XR industry, and we are working with them to invite them as speakers.

Our efforts this year led to an increase to over 500 members on our email list, and we’ve had an average attendance of 24 members per meeting. In addition, we are also launching a pilot program to support student XR project teams next semester. Finally, we will hosting the first ever XR Midwest Conference. We believe that there is enormous potential for more people to be involved in XR in the Midwest. This is why we want to highlight the XR industry professionals, XR faculty, and XR tech talent in the Midwest to create a greater industry presence.”


Check out their Capstone poster here!: ARICapstone Final Poster


Team members:

Michael Zhang, Business Administration, 2021
Matthew Kosova, Industrial and Operations Engineering, 2021

UM Intelligent Ground Vehicle Team – 2017

Founded in Fall 2016, the University of Michigan Intelligent Ground Vehicle (UMIGV) is an engineering design team building a fully autonomous vehicle for the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition in 2018 at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.

UMIGV has worked across three pillars to 1) create the first student-led autonomous ground vehicle to compete at Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition held at Oakland University, 2) pilot the first-ever introduction to robotics course, and 3) create a unified student-led robotics group at the University of Michigan.

We believe that hands-on education complements classroom learning; any student, regardless of their background, can learn through robotics; and our work has a meaningful social impact. The future is autonomous robotics, and we aim to incubate our members to meet the challenges of tomorrow. Ultimately, our vision is a premier robotics team at U-M that is a place where anyone regardless of their background can get involved in robotics and a catalyst for spinning off entrepreneurial and social ventures.

In our first year, we have established a team, created a prototype vehicle, and hosted several demo events. We plan to continue the iterative development process to refine and optimize our vehicle’s autonomous behavior.

Our prototype vehicle operates at speeds up to 5mph, has a sensor suite comprised of 3D cameras and 2D lidar, and runs on a Linux-ROS computer system. In 2018, we hope to scale our project to build a compact, federally-compliant, autonomous car capable of transporting two passengers at speeds up to 45mph.

UMIGV is supported by Michigan Robotics in the College of Engineering, the Barger Leadership Institute Capstone program and other on-campus partners.

By: The UMIGV Team, including BLI Fellows Adarash Mishra and Gregory Meyer

Aequora – The Unlevel Sea Sharing Latin with Elementary Students

Aequora is one of the many Latin words for “sea,” here with the connotation that the sea is calm and level (it comes from the same word, aequus, that we get our English word “equal” from). For my BLI Capstone Project, I decided to start an Aequora program at an elementary school in Michigan — and my experience was anything but calm and level! It was a wild wave of excitement, setbacks, enthusiasm, drama, emotion, and lots and lots of Latin — but I learned and grew so much more than I would have from an easier voyage, and for that I am grateful.

For a little bit about myself, I am finishing up my Junior year at the University of Michigan, where I am majoring in Latin Language & Literature and seeking a Secondary Teaching Certification from the School of Education — basically, I am a nerd about all things Latin, and I want to be a high school teacher when I grow up.


In the dark winter months of 2016 I was told to check out The Paideia Institute’s website for a summer program that a friend thought would interest me. I saw something else on that site though — an outreach program called Aequora that sought to bring afterschool programs that taught Latin to elementary school students in somewhat disadvantaged school districts. The name was chosen because the first Aequora operated out of an afterschool program called Still Waters in a Storm (get it!? Because Aequora means “still waters”), which is still running to this day. They were looking for volunteers, specifically for more people to start sites across the country.

Around the same time a professor introduced me to the Barger Leadership Institute and their Capstone project, and I decided to put two and two together. For my capstone project I decided to bring Aequora to Michigan. I started a club through Eastern Michigan University’s Bright Futures program where I taught a group of second through sixth grade Ypsilanti students Latin. And thus, the storm began which agitated the sea.

O Socii

The first phase of implementation involved communicating with stakeholders — the Aequora Michigan team was lucky enough to be supported by three incredibly helpful programs: The Barger Leadership Institute, who pushed us to work hard and get our dream off the ground, The Paideia Institute, who every step of the way provided help, tips, and resources for a successful Latin program, and Eastern Michigan University’s Bright Futures, an afterschool program set up in schools around Metro Detroit, who provided a wonderful and quirky home for us to grow as well as even more tips, support, and resources. We also rounded up a dedicated team of volunteers from the Classics Department at the University of Michigan, and I could not have done this program without their enthusiasm week after week.


Once we had all our stakeholders in place and organized our resources, including our textbook and lesson plans, it was time to begin the lessons! This is where we took off, and where Aequora’s definition felt the most ironic; we had a bit of a rocky start to our program. Second to sixth grade is a big gap, especially since we had a textbook geared for fourth graders, and we often struggled to come up with activities that could appeal to all of our students. We also did not have the same group of students every week, since it was an afterschool program and parents picked their kids up at different times, which meant that we had no idea how much Latin was going to stick with them. Finally, we were all new and inexperienced afterschool class leaders, and discipline issues arose and were sometimes difficult to control. After one particularly harrowing game of Latin Simon Says, we knew that we were going to have to approach our classroom differently. It was our turning point.

If BLI taught me anything, it’s that I have to be proactive. So we adjusted our sails. We started dividing the kids up into groups based on age (and sometimes gender) — this assisted with the issues in range of activity, since we could do different exercises with different age groups, as well as with the discipline problems, since it was much easier to reason with groups of three or four rather than the whole group of ten to twenty. The attendance problem was something out of our control, but we still decided to work with it rather than write it off — and for the rest of the semester we focused less on grammar and vocabulary (no more games about imperatives) and more on the culture that surrounds the Latin language. We played a game where we walked around the room and identified significant landmarks from Rome (the Colosseum, the Forum); we read stories about the founding of Rome; we did a puppet show based on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Once I realized that that was what was going to get the kids excited, I ran with it.

So, I don’t know if I taught any of these kids Latin. A few of them might remember Salve as “hello.” One or two might remember shouting “I’m a puer!” when they learned the word for “boy.” But my hope is that all of them will remember the stories they learned and that they will remember the Classics fondly in their future!

Gratias tibi ago

It feels like I am giving an Oscar speech now, but I really do have a lot of people to thank. I am incredibly grateful to Evan David, Liz Butterworth, Julia Spears, Vaughn Williams, Patricia Chen, Tiffany Purnell, Nancy Christensen, Lynn Kleimann Malinoff, Sandy Krupa, Stephen Haff, Danny Misra, Neena Pio, Malia Piper, Ed Nolan, and all of the wonderful students whom I was privileged to work with this semester. You all truly are responsible for getting this program up off of the ground, and I cannot thank you enough. I would also like to thank everyone who has supported me and believed in me as I went on this voyage across the unlevel sea.

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