Five ways to do it better: ASU senior capstone projects propose fresh ideas

May 2, 2019

It’s a tradition at ASU Havasu for senior students to produce capstone projects just prior to graduation. The exercise is considered a transition into adult life.

These are long-term investigative undertakings that culminate in a final product and presentation. Typically, students select a topic or social issue that interests them, conduct research on the subject and present the results.

Five ASU seniors gave their oral presentations April 26 on subjects that were directly or indirectly linked to Lake Havasu City.



Samuel Miller spent two semesters interning at the Chamber of Commerce. Miller devised a streamlined solution to a communications predicament at the Chamber.

“The Chamber staff felt it was sending out too many emails every week to its members,” Miller said in his presentation tied to his general studies degree. “I came up with a weekly newsletter that the Chamber emails now. It has saved dozens of emails going out. Members like it better, too.”

Each newsletter reports on four topics: Education, non-profit news, Chamber events and governmental affairs updates.

Improving the adolescent experience

With an eye on economic development and attracting a younger workforce in Havasu, Elijah Boecker proposed establishing a Camp Woodward in Havasu. The chain business is a sleep-away action sports camp for BMX, skateboarding, gymnastics, water sports and bicycling. Led by expert instructors and visiting professionals, campers hone their skills at an estimated cost of $1,400 per week.

Boecker’s business plan appeared feasible on paper, but two major obstacles remained. One was the blistering heat of Havasu’s summers. Camp activities would be too dangerous for campers to exert themselves on triple-digit days. Another issue is vicinity.

“Havasu is too close to other Woodward camps, so I’d have to create my own brand,” Boecker said. Woodward has camp locations in Tahoe, Nevada and Tehachapi, California.

Building a sustainable paddleboard

As an ASU freshman, Nathaniel Klejewski built a paddleboard from 40 empty water bottles. The concept percolated in his mind for a few years as he pursued his organizational leadership degree.

Taking another stab at the project his senior year, Klejewski refined his design with the goal of bringing the paddleboard to market. The new design uses 200 water bottles with a PVC pipe frame.

For full production of the paddleboards, Klejewski planned to obtain supplies of water bottles from recycling collectors. His target customers are young adults and people aligned with the green movement. The paddleboards would sell for around $400 each.

A video of Klejewski using the new and improved paddleboard on Lake Havasu revealed stubborn stability issues.

“I’m going to keep working on it,” a hopeful Klejewski said. “It needs heavier PVC pipe to make the paddleboard more buoyant.”

Happier trails at the ranch

Tristan McCormick chose to improve his family’s business as his senior capstone project. Lessons learned in obtaining his organizational leadership degree guided his creation of a business plan that implements specific upgrades at one-, two- and four-year intervals.

The business is Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch outside of Yucca. Guests stay overnight and enjoy dude ranch activities. Forty percent of them are international visitors seeking an Old West experience, McCormick said. Many guests are returning customers, so implementing fresh ideas is imperative to keep the ranch competitive.

Some of his ideas are already up and running.

“Horseback riding is the main attraction, so we added more horses. We’re up to 40 rideable horses now,” McCormick said.

Devising more ways for guests to enjoy the desert scenery included the purchase of two Humvee vehicles for off-road tours, overnight campouts, expanded quad rides and the addition of a stagecoach. A team of two draft horses pull the coach, which was previously used in films, McCormick said.

Profanity’s net effect

Through her research, communications major Mackenzie Mollohan learned that many law enforcement agencies have no regulations against officers using foul language while dealing with the public. She also found that officers commonly use profanity with suspects to get them to submit to their authority.

But is it effective? For her capstone project, Mollohan conducted a study to gauge the perceived credibility of law enforcement officers when they use profanity.

Using a script about a motorist being pulled over by police for rolling through a four-way stop sign, Mollohan asked her 43 participants to rate their attitudes toward the officer. Some were subjected to the officer’s profanity, others were not.

“I chose the f-word because it is both common and offensive,” she said. “I found that those in the profanity group felt the officer was less credible and they were more angry.”

Mollohan conceded that it is expected that criminals use profanity as a part of their everyday vocabulary. Officers often use the tactical language when dealing with such suspects. However, when an officer cusses at otherwise law-abiding citizens, it negatively affects their impression of the officer, she concluded.

Pam Ashley can be reached at 928-453-4237, ext. 230 or pashley@havasunews.com.