Engineering students in Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering complete a capstone design project or engage in project design courses during their academic pursuits. These projects, which may be done in teams, give students valuable experience solving real-world problems by using concepts that span several topic areas within their major. Companies now have the opportunity to sponsor student teams to tackle real-world problems from their businesses.

Capstone design projects and project design courses allow students to experience the rigor and structure of a full-cycle design, including problem definition, benchmark studies, concept generation and feasibility study, engineering design analyses, and, in most cases, prototype fabrication and testing. Through this experience, students learn to fully define a design problem. This includes not only a statement of the project objectives and goals in the sponsor’s terms, but also a full definition of the agreed-upon functional requirements and constraints. 


Student working on capstone design project

Source: Carnegie Mellon University's College of Engineering

A CMU student works on his capstone design project.

Sponsors bring in real-world problems from their businesses and support a team of creative, talented Carnegie Mellon University engineering students in developing solutions. Sponsoring an educational project provides a company with several important benefits, which include:

  • the opportunity to assess student talent and to recruit for jobs
  • a low-cost means to get a fresh look at a challenging problem, perhaps one that the sponsor does not have the resources to do in-house 
  • a nonexclusive commercial license to any project intellectual property developed by the student team
  • an excellent professional development opportunity for a company employee who mentors a team
  • the chance to get better acquainted with Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering and with the many other opportunities for industry engagement

Departments offering companies with the opportunity to sponsor capstone or course projects include:

More departments are expected to participate soon.

Depending on the program, participating educational project sponsors may pay a fee and designate a CMU employee to mentor the student team. The mentor helps the team understand the problem in depth and meets with the students weekly to keep them on track as the project progresses.

Sponsor involvement is essential to the success of the College of Engineering’s capstone and project design courses. Sponsors are expected to identify an industry liaison to serve as the team’s point-of-contact for the project. The more a sponsor is engaged and invested in the project, the more they will get out of this opportunity.