New capstone class delivers real-world experience to students
Finding ways to apply students’ learning in the classroom to real-world scenarios is of the utmost importance for UNIBusiness. Graduates who understand the world of business from all angles tend to have more success in their professional careers.
That thinking was the impetus behind UNIBusiness’ real estate capstone class, which was taught for the first time in the 2018 fall semester. The course, which is required for all real estate majors, gives students the opportunity to analyze a property for development and/or redevelopment. It focuses more on real world scenarios rather than lectures and exams. But if students need information, Art Cox, the instructor of the course, offers an online database with various lessons and advice.
“There’s very little lecture,” said Cox, who is also director of the real estate program. “There are some lessons at the beginning of the course to help set up the projects, but the rest of the class time is dedicated to working on the project.”
The main project for the fall semester involved a development in Des Moines’ East Village, at the corner of East Second Street and Court Avenue. The location has two parts — a parking lot and an industrial building — separated by an alleyway. Students evaluated the surrounding market and the property itself to determine the best use for the location. They compiled their findings into a report, which they presented to a panel of experts and professionals. Panelists questioned and scrutinized the reports, helping students understand how analysis works in the professional real estate industry.
“Students have learned various techniques separate from each other in other classes,” Cox said. “I wanted to bring those courses together in this capstone class and bring in more factors to help students actually put their learning into practice.”
The panelists didn’t go easy on the students. They asked tough questions and, in some cases, actually found some errors in the students’ interpretation of the numbers. But it was all part of the experience in helping the students learn and fix their mistakes. The presentation also helped students show their skills to potential employers.
“It was great,” Lucas Hedstrom (Real Estate ’18) said. “They said we did a great job. Being in contact with employers was one of my biggest takeaways. They were helpful throughout the project when I reached out.”
The class provided a big benefit for D.J. Ludemann (Real Estate ’18), who graduated after completing the course. The lessons he took from the class are invaluable, especially as he moves into his professional life.
“It was beneficial to learn the whole process from step one,” Ludemann said. “It took everything we learned from other classes and applied them to a real-life scenario. It was up to us to decide what the best path was. We had to decide what steps to take. It’s something I will use in the future a lot.”