What Is Capstone (Senior) Design?

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

This course and the team project represent the culmination of every engineering student’s undergraduate education. Through their projects, student teams in Chemical and Life Science, Mechanical and Nuclear, Biomedical, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Computer Science practice problem analysis, solution-based investigation and prototyping. Working with Capstone sponsors, students tackle this practical learning experience by addressing real world problems, encountering real world constraints, learning fundamentals of teamwork, and applying learned theory.

Student teams present their completed work at the Dean's Society event on April 27, 2017 and the Capstone Design Expo on April 28, 2017 at the Stuart C. Siegel Center, 1200 W. Broad St.


The Capstone Design course at the School of Engineering of Virginia Commonwealth University is meant to be the climax of every engineering student’s undergraduate education. As a prerequisite to attaining a Bachelor’s degree, the Capstone Design course presents each student with the challenge of working in a team to tackle actual engineering problems within and across the fields of Chemical and Life Science, Mechanical and Nuclear, Biomedical, Electrical, and Computer Engineering and Science. A significant real-world aspect arises from opportunities presented to our students from the industrial community as well as other VCU schools – in particular 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, the 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 they have the chance to display actual working models and prototypes, but they also compete for awards and prizes.

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

View a recap of the 2016 expo

Contact Information

Ben Ward, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Phone: 804-828-6371
Email: bcward@vcu.edu
Mailing Address:
VCU School of Engineering
601 West Main Street
Box 843015
Richmond, Virginia 23284