The season of 2016–2017 Senior Projects—one of Ross School’s most notable programs—has begun. From now until January, when seniors present their projects publicly, they will be working diligently on the culminating experience of their Ross School career.
The main components of the Senior Project are the Process Folio, the Final Product, and the Presentation. A faculty mentor, acting as facilitator, teacher, advisor, editor, critic, and advocate, works individually with each student to guide and assist them. At the conclusion of the Senior Project, students have achieved deeper insight into themselves as learners and producers.
For some, the stress of Senior Project is mingled with anticipation. Anil Tickaram views the endeavor as an opportunity to leave a legacy at Ross before his time here ends. Several years ago, a student who rebuilt a classic car for his Senior Project inspired Anil—a science and technology enthusiast—to broaden the scope of his project when it came time to choose a topic. This year, he is collaborating with another student to build a go-cart powered by a jet engine.
Other students are drawing on talents and interest they discovered through classes that challenged them and broadened their horizons. Seamus McCarthy developed a passion for blacksmithing during a Visual Arts course. After a summer spent practicing the trade, he plans to build a forge and a set of tools with the assistance of his faculty mentor, Visual Arts teacher Jon Mulhern.
“As a mentor, it is rewarding for me to see students find their passion,” Jon said. “Often, I find that students become so invested that they continue working on their projects months after the project and presentation part of the year is over.”
To ensure that students are prepared for late January’s presentation week, seniors face several milestone deadlines before their projects are complete. They are also actively involved in creating the grading criteria for their own projects. Most recently, they submitted final project proposals; if approved, students will be locked into the topic they have chosen. Later, they’ll be asked to submit grading rubrics and progress reports. Students meet twice weekly as a class to communicate progress and to receive assistance from Dale Scott, Senior Project coordinator.
The progression of tasks helps students stay on top of their work, which in turn enables them to be successful by the end of the term—and makes home life a bit easier. Dale reported that parents are always grateful that the process helps students work through such a large undertaking by breaking it down to smaller steps: “When we talk to parents, they are happy there’s a structure that keeps the students on track.”