Senior students apply engineering skills they have acquired during their undergraduate years by tackling technical problems for sponsors in a real-world environment while mentored by UConn Engineering faculty and an engineer from the sponsoring organization.
Overview of the Program
The Senior Design Program is a hallmark of success for engineering seniors. Students are co-mentored by faculty from their department as well as engineers from the sponsoring organization in a two-semester senior design capstone course. The students are exposed to design principles, ethical issues, and matters involving intellectual property and communication practices in the workplace. All projects selected for the senior design program meet the ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering & Technology) Design criteria.
The Senior Design program has two complementary elements for the students. The academic element focuses on their application of fundamental engineering theory and principals consistent with the ABET objective; “Students must be prepared for engineering practice through the curriculum culminating in a major design experience…” The additional element is the investigation and development of solutions to relevant problems that are important to the sponsor.
All projects have a mentoring engineer from the sponsoring organization, a faculty member and a student team consisting of one or more students.
The students make oral presentations, conduct a peer design review, prepare a written report at the conclusion of each semester and demonstrate final results at the Senior Design Demonstration Day. During the fall semester, students may travel to the sponsoring organization to view and better understand the project objective. Students communicate with the mentoring engineer monthly at a minimum, but normally every two weeks. The team of students meet regularly with the faculty advisor and with their team.
During the fall semester, students are expected to research the project topic, brainstorm potential solutions and identify the analytical and experimental elements of their approach.
A departmental Senior Design leader meets with the student teams regularly to assess progress. This provides an excellent method to determine where students may be having difficulty.
A modest fee supports Senior Design project costs. This fee is determined by the overseeing academic department. Multi departmental projects require a slightly higher fee. Billing – typically, sponsors are billed in October for the project fee; however, flexible payment scheduling can be accommodated by prior arrangement. Please note that students are not allowed payment for project participation from the sponsor.
Sponsors may provide equipment/parts, which can be provided back to the sponsor at the end of the project.
The project team’s deliverables are project reports at the end of each semester. Any other project deliverables cannot be guaranteed.
Overview of Roles
1. Faculty Advisor
The Faculty Advisor will assist and guide the team in assessing project challenges. The faculty advisor is responsible for ensuring the student team meets the academic and project goals. The faculty advisor will meet regularly, possibly visit the facility with students, organize and participate in phone calls between the team and sponsor, provide academic and technical expertise, help the team with software learning (when applicable), and review presentations.
2. Student Team
The student team will meet project goals by regular interaction between team members, the Sponsor Advisor and the Faculty Advisor. The team is required to develop a detailed project schedule and work diligently to produce project deliverables on time and of the highest quality. The team will regularly monitor material costs and get sponsor approval prior to any expenditure. The team will work together, define project objectives and goals, and provide drafts in advance to the sponsor and faculty advisor.
3. Sponsor Advisor
The Sponsor Advisor plays a vital role in the successful completion of the project. The students will be looking to you as a role model. It is important that they learn how professionals get the job done. The Sponsor Advisor keeps the team focused on the project goals. The Sponsor Advisor will participate in teleconference and meeting discussions with the project team (when available), may help coordinate visits to your facility, assess project progress and presentations, provide technical guidance, and provide feedback to the faculty advisor and team. Also, the Sponsor Advisor may filter proprietary material before anything is placed in the public domain.
4. Departmental Senior Design Leader
The Departmental Senior Design leader is responsible for the academic, financial, and product development success of the Senior Design program. These goals are met through day-to-day management of the program and ensuring that the teams proceed with their projects through a structured development process. The departmental Senior Design leader represents the Senior Design Program and the University of Connecticut to sponsors and peer academic institutions. The sponsor and faculty advisors may contact the departmental Senior Design leader any time during the project period to discuss any issues or concerns they might have.
Grading – The departmental Senior Design leader is responsible for inputting grades for all students.
Intellectual Property & Non-Disclosure Agreements
Students are not employees of the university and as such, any intellectual property they generate as a result of the project remains the property of the company. Faculty are employees of the university and intellectual property that they provide to the project may potentially be property of and licensed by the university.
Organization sponsors may request students and faculty advisors to sign non-disclosure agreements at the beginning of the project. Students are not obligated to sign these requests, and can be reassigned to other projects.