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BE Capstone Project Sponsorship
CEDC staff work with potential sponsors to develop and refine project ideas. The project-submission cycle begins in May with outreach to potential sponsors for projects that will start in early September.
What are the benefits?
For a minimal investment, deliverables include a written report containing relevant background research, analysis of the problem and proposed solution, and recommendations for next steps. Other deliverables may include:
- Design analyses, reports, and feasibility studies
- Product prototypes
- Engineering plans, drawings, and CAD models
- Computer programs, manuals, and data
- Manufacturing process plans
- Demonstrations, videos, and presentations
- Business plans and financial analyses
To begin, the potential sponsor emails the CEDC director to set up a brief meeting to discuss the project idea and determine the best way for the company to participate.
- March–July: Sponsors works with CEDC staff to define their projects and fill out the online proposal form.
- End of July: Sponsor proposal forms due. CEDC staff work with sponsors to further refine projects and finalize the list of projects that will be presented to students.
- Early September: At the start of ENGS 89, proposals are pitched, projects and teams are matched, and projects begin.
- Mid September–Early October: Project sponsors are invoiced.
- Early October: Student teams give both oral and written reports to a professional review board about their understanding of the problem, the current state of the art surrounding potential solutions, and the solution area in which they intend to focus their efforts.
- Mid November: Student teams give both oral and written reports to a professional review board on their potential solution to the problem, their attempts to realize the solution, potential obstacles, alternative ideas in case a dead-end is reached, and anticipated timelines for completing the project.
- Early January: ENGS 90, the final segment of the course, begins.
- Early February: Each student team informally reports to the professional review board about its progress to date, including the status of the proposed solution, and how challenges have been overcome.
- Mid March: Each student team presents their final report to the professional review board, recapping their work over the two terms and demonstrating the deliverable that solves the problem. A written report and handoff materials are also provided at this time.
Points of Contact
Sponsors interact regularly with students throughout the project in at least two ways:
- The business lead provides company and contextual information, as well as user needs and specifications.
- The technology lead provides problem-specific technical guidance.
These two points of contact may or may not be the same person.
Select a Technical Lead
Critical to project success is for the CEDC sponsor to assign a technical lead who is well-versed in the problem at hand and willing to communicate with the student team on a regular basis to answer questions and provide technical support. The best project results occur when the technical lead has strong domain expertise, engaged with the project, and is able to provide technical support as the students work through the engineering challenges.
The best technical lead is someone who...
- Is up to date on the scope of the project and the expected deliverables
- Agrees to project deliverables and scope with the student team members
- Mentors the students and provides technical support throughout the project
- Communicates with the student team once or twice a week to provide information, field questions, or provide advice
- Reviews student proposals, reports, and other documents and provides good feedback in a timely fashion
- Attends the final student project presentation on campus or virtually at the end of winter term in mid-March
CEDC will work with you to set the scope for your project. The ideal project involves the design of a product, process, or system with clearly defined deliverables.
A good project:
- Comes from a sponsor with strong domain expertise and the ability to guide the student team and provide technical support as the students work through the engineering challenges
- Has a strong design component that allows students to learn and grow through technical innovation and creativity
- Has well-defined and measurable objectives that can be met in the 26 weeks of the design course sequence
If you have an idea and would like help with how to best define the project for success, please email the CEDC director.
Each CEDC sponsor invests $10,000 for their student-selected project with full and partial waiver opportunities available for nonprofits and small companies.
CEDC offers guidance to sponsors and student teams to protect the sponsoring company's proprietary interests, and sponsors may require that students sign a nondisclosure agreement.
Submit a Project
- Reach out to the CEDC director. You will then receive a project summary that includes pertinent information so students can understand what is involved in your project.
- Approve the project summary. The CEDC director will then ask you to film a 3-minute video detailing the project in your own words, including the ideal outcome and the types of engineering work involved.
- Upload that video to the link provided by the CEDC director.
- Sponsors will be informed of their project’s matching status as soon as the process is complete. Student teams will be matched to projects by mid-September using an algorithm optimized for student experience and project success.
Tips for Success
- Start early and work with CEDC staff to refine your proposal and project description.
- Have a strong technical lead with domain expertise. (See more below)
- Define clear and quantifiable deliverables and objectives that can be met in the 26 weeks of the design course sequence.
- Provide a strong design challenge that includes technical analysis, prototyping/simulation, testing, financial and business modeling, and project management.
After the project submission portal closes in July, CEDC staff will review all submissions to determine which projects fit best within the scope of ENGS 89/90. The CEDC director may contact sponsoring companies over the summer for additional information on proposed projects to clarify and better align the objectives, scope, and technical requirements with ENGS 89/90. The Fellow may also advise companies that their projects do not fit within the scope of ENGS 89/90, though this is unlikely if a sponsor has worked with CEDC staff to prepare their proposal.
In early September, at the start of ENGS 89/90, students are presented with the potential projects for the year. Groups of students are temporarily assigned to each of the proposed projects and are responsible for learning more about the opportunities provided. During this time, students are not allowed to contact sponsors and can only gather information from online and materials previously provided by the sponsor. Each student team will pitch this project to their peers during the second week of class. This process ensures that all potential projects are enthusiastically represented to our students during the project selection process.
At this time, students rank their top project choices and state any relevant experience they have had. Using this information, project teams are formed by the course director. The CEDC staff notifies the sponsoring companies of final project team assignments. Companies sponsoring selected projects will receive an invoice for support at this time. Companies whose projects are not selected may continue to work with CEDC to refine the project description to use in the following year.
Companies new to the process can read sample project proposals, all of which have been submitted to CEDC and successfully completed by student teams.