Sponsor a Senior Project - 2021

Please consider sponsoring a Cal Poly Senior Design Project!

We are looking for design challenges for teams of 3-4 ME seniors to work on starting in January, April, or September 2021.  These student teams will work closely with faculty advisors for a full academic year while designing, building, and testing a solution for their sponsor’s problem.  This excellent capstone activity relies on YOUR project ideas to give the students meaningful, realistic design challenges! 

What are the benefits of sponsoring a senior project?

  1. Creative Ideas.  Students bring fresh perspectives and creativity to your problem.  Since they haven’t worked in your area, they will be willing to take risks and try out new ideas.
  2. Real Results.  All teams create a design, analyze it, construct a prototype, and perform tests.  While we can’t guarantee the final prototype will function, you and the students will learn a lot about your design challenge during the process.
  3. Extended Interview.  Working with a student team lets you interact with students for a full academic year.  This is like an extended interview if you are interested in hiring Cal Poly graduates.
  4. Student learning.  Your sponsorship of a senior project will allow a team of ME seniors to work on a realistic design challenge while preparing them for work in industry.


What do we ask of our sponsors?

  1. Design Challenge.  We need problems (design challenges) that could be solved by a mechanical system.  Don’t worry if you can’t fully define the problem – that’s part of the design team’s job!  I’ll also help you determine the right scope.
  2. Communication.  The best projects have fully-engaged sponsors interested in the outcome who remain in contact with the team throughout the year. 
  3. Prototype Costs.  All teams build & test a physical prototype.  Teams perform most manufacturing and testing themselves, but we rely on the sponsor to pay for materials and specialty build/test costs.
  4. Course Fee.  We ask external sponsors to pay a fee at the start of the project to cover course administrative, facility, and equipment costs.  The course fee (assuming you are willing to use Cal Poly's Industry-Sponsored Student Project agreement) is:

    $6000 for corporate sponsors 
    $3000 for individuals and small businesses
    (We waive the course fee for non-profits and individuals who do not want to own any project intellectual property or control confidentiality.)

Visit our website to read more about Cal Poly’s Senior Project Experience, including how to propose a project.  To propose a project idea enter your project idea online

  • Please send ideas for the January 2021 start before NOVEMBER 15, 2020.
  • Please send ideas for the April start before MARCH 1, 2021.
  • Please send ideas for the September start before AUGUST 1, 2021.

How can you help support ME Senior Projects if you don’t have a design challenge right now?

Beyond sponsoring a project, there are other great ways that you can help support the ME Senior Project program:

  1. Become a Senior Project Mentor.  We are looking for practicing engineers interested in mentoring a senior design team.  Your role would be to act as an alternative resource for the team members – for project issues, career questions, and general advice.  If you’re interested in sharing your experience with a senior design team, let me know and I’ll get you more information.
  2. Donate to the Mechanical Engineering Senior Project Fund to support machine shop technicians and provide project materials for non-profits.  
  3. Support the prototyping costs for a non-profit project.  Non-profits bring terrific design challenges, but many lack the funding to pay for the materials so students can build a functioning system.  This is a great way to make your donation go further – the students get a great design experience and the non-profit gets a custom-built functional system.  If you are interested in sponsoring one of these projects, send me an e-mail and I’ll connect you with one of our non-profit sponsors. 

If you have any questions, please contact Peter Schuster (pschuste@calpoly.edu).

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