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Working With Industry Sponsors In A Multidisciplinary Senior Design Program

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Capstone Design II

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1409.1 - 13.1409.14



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Paper Authors

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James Conrad University of North Carolina at Charlotte


William Heybruck University of North Carolina at Charlotte

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William Heybruck received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2001. Prior to becoming the Director of the UNC Charlotte College of Engineering Industrial Solutions Laboratory he was a Senior Engineer for Hitachi Global Storage Technologies specializing in the Microdrive and automotive hard disk drives. Prior to Hitachi, he was Product Development Manager for the Wireless products at IBM. He has three patents in the field of test technology.

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Daniel Hoch University of North Carolina at Charlotte

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Dan Hoch is a faculty associate in the Engineering Technology Department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He teaches courses in the Mechanical Engineering Technology department such as machining practices, senior design, and thermodynamics. Das areas of interest are related to thermal fluid design, internal combustion engines, and energy conversion.
Prior to his current position at UNC-Charlotte, Dan worked for Mercury Marine in Fond du lac, Wisconsin developing 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines and propulsion systems. After completing his graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Dan spent two years working as a research engineer in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the UW-Madison focusing on cryogenic and thermal fluid systems.

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Martin Kane University of North Carolina at Charlotte

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Martin Kane earned his Ph.D. degree in Civil Engineering from Michigan State University (East Lansing, Michigan) in 1995. He also earned his BS in Civil Engineering (1990) and MS in Civil Engineering (1991) from the College of Engineering at MSU. Dr. Kane is currently an associate professor and Undergraduate Director in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His research interests include Highway Operations, Transportation and Urban Planning, Human Factors in Transportation, Public Transportation, Traffic Engineering, and Aviation infrastructure. Dr. Kane is an Eno Fellow, and is a member of ASEE, ASCE, ITE, Sigma Xi, and Chi Epsilon.

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Peter Schmidt University of North Carolina at Charlotte


Frank Skinner University of North Carolina at Charlotte

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Frank Skinner is currently the director of Industrial Solutions at the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science at University of North Carolina – Charlotte. His industry positions include president of Robo-Tech Systems, Inc., senior market development engineer at GE and manager of engineering at Advanced Products Corp.

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Linda Thurman University of North Carolina at Charlotte

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Linda Thurman is currently the Faculty Associate for Student Professional Development and Student Success for the Lee College of Engineering at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She has nine years of experience in higher ed. Prior to coming to the university she held positions as a technical recruiter and a senior account executive in the technical recruiting and sales industry for companies in both Chicago and Charlotte. She completed her graduate internship at United Airlines-Chicago O’Hare Airport and at their headquarters. Ms. Thurman holds a Masters degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois. She is a member of NACE (National Associate of Colleges and Employers) and is currently serving as the 2007-2008 president of the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) University Chapter.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Working with Industry Sponsors in a Multidisciplinary Senior Design Program

Abstract This paper will present the advantages and disadvantages of involving industry in engineering senior design projects and courses. There are many issues and concerns that must be addressed when working with companies, since the underlying cultures of academia and industry are distinctly different. Further, each organization develops different goals and objectives with respect to their participation in the program. The following topics are addressed:

• Pursuing Company Sponsors: There are many important attributes of potential participating companies: size, proximity, connections to the university, number of alumni, and ability to financially participate. Examples of ways to reach and interest industrial sponsors are listed.

• Statement of Work: While a company may identify a project, a completed project is often a secondary goal. Companies want to identify new employees, and a senior design project is one way to meet graduating seniors and assess their ability to work in their organization. Still, a viable statement of work must be written so that the students can work on a real-world engineering problem.

• Intellectual Property: While a senior design project usually does not create valuable intellectual property, there is a possibility the work may be patentable. Who owns this work? This section describes several examples of assigning or identifying ownership BEFORE the work is done.

• Company Involvement: One of the most difficult parts of an industrial-based senior design program is ensuring the company employees actually participate. They have so little time, and if a project is to have any hope of success, a company employee must help define and/or guide the work. This section describes activities we use to increase company/student communication and contact.

This paper will present observations on each of these topics from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte's programs. Student outcomes are also identified.

1. Introduction Senior design capstone courses offer engineering students an opportunity to apply the skills they have learned throughout their undergraduate education to an applied engineering project in a team environment. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte College of Engineering has integrated a multi-disciplinary senior design program that spans all of the engineering departments. Industry sponsors have been identified and incorporated into the program to allow students to work on real world problems. These sponsors are afforded the opportunity to initiate elective research projects in their respective areas of interest while working closely with seniors that the company may be interested in recruiting.


Conrad, J., & Heybruck, W., & Hoch, D., & Kane, M., & Schmidt, P., & Skinner, F., & Thurman, L. (2008, June), Working With Industry Sponsors In A Multidisciplinary Senior Design Program Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3827

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015