Each year, senior engineering students engage in one or two-semester capstone design courses. These provide hands-on learning opportunities and expose them to the challenges and satisfactions of solving real-world dilemmas, from the problem definition stage to prototype development.
In the case of sponsored projects, teams work closely with the sponsoring company, which provides financial support, advising and the design challenge. In exchange, students research the problem, conceive alternate solutions, design and refine one device or method, construct a working prototype, and provide the sponsoring company regular reports as well as a working prototype. Throughout the process, students apply the core concepts they learned in the classroom to an actual design project.
The program gives students the chance to apply the technical skills they have gained, and to expand their abilities in analysis-based innovation and engineering judgment. Students begin by researching the problem, brainstorming a range of solutions, and meeting with a sponsor to learn more about the company and the project. Students may work individually or as members of a team to develop and refine possible design solutions, build and test a working prototype, write reports and prepare presentations. They work closely with a sponsor throughout the process. Sponsors typically provide financial support, advising and the design challenge.