Capstone Design Overview: All undergraduate students from across the VCU College of Engineering work over the fall and spring semesters of the senior year in teams to design, build and test prototypes for actual, real-world problems and applications. This is strengthened by exposure of the students to topics related to theoretical background, design and development, regulatory, manufacturing, finance, product development and marketing presented by experts from industry and academia. This effort culminates in the Capstone Design Expo, a forum open to sponsors, faculty, students, benefactors of the College of Engineering and the general public. The entire Capstone Design output from the College of Engineering is on display, with a series of awards for worthy projects.
Project sponsors from industry, healthcare, non-profits and faculty can benefit from participation in the VCU Engineering Capstone Design program in the following ways:
- An opportunity to interact directly with the new generation of graduating engineers.
- A low cost and minimal risk way to evaluate and attract new talent.
- Ability to access fresh, creative perspectives to engineering opportunities or problems.
- A cost-effective approach for “backburner” projects.
- Strengthen relationships with university faculty and expertise.
- Professional development opportunities for employees to serve as project mentors.
Industrial / For Profit sponsors are requested to donate $5,000 per project. All donations go to the College of Engineering Foundation, and may be paid by check or credit card. Donations are used to fund the general expenses of the Capstone program, including the director’s salary, all costs associated with the end-of-year EXPO, expenses for student visits to out of town sponsors, competitions and conferences.
Donations are not used to fund expenses of individual projects. All expenses for Industrially-sponsored projects are to be borne by the sponsor. Sponsor will retain ownership of all materials purchased for the project, which preferably should be acquired by the sponsor, not the university.
Donations are invoiced at the end of September and are expected to be settled by November 1. Please contact Ben Ward at email@example.com if you desire special arrangements.
Expenses for university, VCU Health and non-profit sponsors come from seed funds and endowments, such as Sternheimer awards. Most projects sponsored by non-profits are exempt from the donation requirement.
Projects may be submitted using the Capstone Proposal Template form. Please fill it out and send to Dr. Ben Ward, Associate Professor and Capstone Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (804) 828-6371. The proposal describes the problem and/or unmet need, highlights expected deliverables, and lists resources and team member skills required.
- The sponsor key contact, known as the “mentor” should be identified and contact information shared no later than September 1. Mentors are strongly advised to meet with their team at least one hour bi-weekly (in person, phone, Skype, or other). Weekly meetings are preferred. These interactions are significant for students' education and progression of the team’s efforts.
- The sponsor provides guidance and feedback for developing project concepts and project deliverables.
- The sponsor provides input to the faculty advisor on individual and team performance.
- The faculty project advisor is responsible for the management of all student tasks and assignments. The mentor should let the advisor know immediately if there are any issues or concerns with the team.
- Sponsor and their invitees should plan to attend the Capstone Expo at the Science Museum of Virginia in late April. Approximately 100 projects and teams will be on display.
At VCU, undergraduate students normally have ownership rights to any intellectual property they generate during the course of their Capstone project.
For projects sponsored by industry / for profit organizations, the VCU College of Engineering has a straight-forward, client-friendly approach for undergraduate students to assign these IP rights to the sponsor, when requested. Sponsors have until September 30th to request students assign any IP generated on their project to the sponsoring company. In addition, these sponsors may share confidential information with the students under the auspices of a VCU.
Non-Disclosure agreement. VCU's general counsel has reviewed both the IP rights assignment and NDA agreements; the drafts can be downloaded via the links below.
Students working on projects sponsored by VCU, VCU Health or other non profits may choose to assign their IP to VCU. This is usually begun with a conception record, which is submitted to the VCU Innovation Gateway.
Prospective sponsors are requested to sign a “Guidelines for Sponsors”, a document that summarizes all pertinent information regarding sponsoring a VCU Engineering Capstone Project, no later than September 1.
A client-approved Guidelines Document acknowledges that the sponsor has been provided information regarding all legal agreements and fees.