Senior Design

Senior Design is the capstone undergraduate design project of the Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering. Seniors are able to apply their knowledge and showcase their abilities through the completion of challenging real-world design problems. The program is made up of a two-semester course sequence.

Students apply what they have learned in the classroom to develop a solution to a real-world issue, taking on roles as designers, testers and project managers. Employer sponsors, or local industry leaders, act as their clients and provide feedback throughout the project.

What will I do in Senior Design?

Senior Design students will divide into teams of four to six, research and select an issue, then design a project. Throughout the process, teams will work closely with a faculty advisor to ensure that their projects yield high-quality results. Meetings also take place periodically for information gathering, progress reviews and design presentations.

In Design II, student ideas are brought to life by prototype construction, testing, and final analysis. Senior Design culminates with Design Day, a college-wide event where teams from each engineering department present projects to engineering faculty members and industry leaders.

  • Timeline

    Typical Timeline for Senior Design

    During the first semester all planning, research, and preliminary design work is completed.  The second semester is when the project really comes to life - students construct prototypes, do testing, refine their designs, and present the final product.  Projects are completed by student teams consisting of 3-5 students.  Each team has a faculty advisor to assist them with the design project and to ensure a comprehensive solution is achieved in a timely manner.


    Semester 1: Number of weeks = 16

    Weeks 1-2: Proposal Presentations

    Week 3: Teams are formed.  First meeting with faculty advisor.

    Week4: First meeting with industry sponsor if applicable.

    Week 5-7: Preliminary design work.

    Week 8: Mid-semester presentation.  Team evaluations due.

    Weeks 9-12:  Preliminary design work continues.

    Week 13: Begin ordering  parts.

    Week 14: Preliminary design work continues.

    Week 15: Prepare for final presentation and report.

    Week 16:  Final presentation and report due.  Team evaluations due. 


    Semester 2: Number of weeks = 16

    Week 1: Order remaining parts.

    Weeks 2-7: Fabrication of prototype.

    Weeks 8-10: Testing/Validation.  Team evaluations due.

    Weeks 11-12: Design refinement/redesign.

    Week 13: Prototype/testing results due.

    Week 14: Prepare for Design Day.

    Week 15: Design Day.

    Week 16: Final report due.  Team evaluations and exit survey due.

  • Picking a Team
    Working as a team is both enabling and stressful. It is best to consider the project needs in terms of skill sets. Aspects of the team are both specific to a particular task and also global. An example of global responsibilities is ensuring the timeline for completion is being maintained, financial records are being kept. The global tasks can be divided among team members or handled by the same individual. Writing reports and submitting them in a timely manner, as well as, ensuring that all team members are contributing to the project appropriately need to be considered. It is clear over the course of doing the degree, interpersonal, completion reliability, innovativeness, technical skills in machining or drawing are aspects you know about one another. Keep this in mind as you team up. Select team members that you know will contribute and provide assistance as well as creativity.
  • Finances
    The department provides each individual student with a fixed amount of funds that is determined a month into the Fall semester. MEE Outreach is also actively seeking gifts from area industry. It is best that students work with in-kind donations with the company but for additional money to be donated to the department, ask companies to contact Typically materials and supplies needed for projects are supported by the sponsoring industry.
  • Types of Projects
    Senior Design offers the opportunity for a student to apply hands-on and academic skills to solving a problem. The experience is a microcosm of a real world experience. Both technical and soft skills are utilized and improved upon.

    First, the student selects a project. A student should consider the following when selecting a project: funding, the level of complexity, time availability, and the student’s academic interests. Projects are typically a current need with an existing solution that can be improved upon or there is a need that requires a new solution. In both cases innovation is important. Planning, creativity, analytical reasoning, and execution are vital.

    Projects are driven by the current employment of the MEE student. The student can enlist current employers and develop a problem to be solved that requires a designing a solution. The student and/or industry sponsor can fill out the project proposal form and contact with the proposal.

    The student can select a project from the list of available projects. The list will be available from your Senior Design Instructor.

    The student can propose a new project and identify possible industrial sponsors. An official proposal must be presented for review. The proposal should contain the following information: a general overview of the project concept, testing plans, prototypes to be developed, team size, potential funding sources, and sponsors. Students can write to to obtain help in connecting with industry.

    No matter what type of project is selected, the following should be considered:

    Who: will work on the team: Identify a team that is either working for the company or that company is agreeable to having on the team/premises. Also, consider how well your work ethic and dedication to the project will match with those of the other student team members.

    Facilities: that are needed for the project: implementation will drive WHERE the project is executed. Do you have a large enough space to work on and complete the project in question? Will you be performing tests in a location that will require special permission/paperwork? Will the exits to your location be large enough to accommodate your final prototype?

    Finances: Who will be providing your funds? Funds are available from the department but they may not cover all the needed expenses. The amount of funds provided by the department varies by year. In the past students have received between $50 - $200. Students selecting industry or faculty grant sponsored projects support the rest.