What is Capstone (senior design)?

Welcome to the VCU College of Engineering Capstone (senior design) website! Capstone was created to immerse senior engineering students in the hands-on processes of solving practical “real-world” problems.

Capstone at the College of Engineering of Virginia Commonwealth University is the apex of every engineering student’s undergraduate education. As a prerequisite to attaining a Bachelor’s degree, Capstone presents each student with the challenge of working in a team to tackle actual engineering problems within and across the fields of Biomedical, Chemical and Life Science, Mechanical and Nuclear, Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Computer Science. A significant real-world aspect arises from opportunities presented to our students from the industrial community as well as other VCU schools—notably in the health sciences. In all cases, teams learn and apply the engineering design process: defining functional requirements, conceptualization, analysis, identifying risks and countermeasures, selection, prototyping and testing. At the end of the two-semester course, in April, student teams present their work to the sponsors, faculty, students, invited guests and the general public at the Capstone Design Expo, held at the Siegel Center in Richmond, Virginia. Not only do the teams have the chance to display actual working models and prototypes, but they also compete for awards and prizes.

Along the way, students gain valuable experience from working in teams, including group dynamics; dealing with conflicts, meeting time-driven deliverables and deadlines; and effective communication among team members, project sponsors, and faculty advisers. Students are also exposed to experts from Industry and non-engineering academic disciplines as well as engineers of all types. Topics studied include intellectual property, industrial design, manufacturing, sales, product development and marketing, finance, and ethics. In the end, through earlier course work and this realistic and rigorous design course, students are prepared to start their careers in the everyday practice of engineering.