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Sponsor a Senior Design Project

Senior Design projects at the University of Rochester provide companies with the opportunity to work with the next generation of engineers, scientists, and programmers. As part of these projects, our students create custom solutions to given problems while under the observation and guidance of a University faculty advisor. Potential benefits to sponsors include:

  • Assistance with an exploratory project
  • A chance to work with students who will soon be entering the job market
  • The potential to interact with engineering faculty
  • Technical assistance in an unfamiliar area
  • A chance to contribute to the educational mission of the University

You do not need to be an engineer to sponsor a project. Technical guidance will be provided by the course instructor.


Senior Design was created to provide students with an opportunity to plan and execute a design or research project. Proposed projects should be open-ended or allow for some creativity. Students are assessed based on their approach and execution, not the project outcome per se, so a proposed project may not be successful.

In general, projects should:

  • Be in the beginning stages of the process (i.e., not already in the building or testing or deployment stage)
  • Have a flexible timeline
  • Have a well-defined goal or hypothesis that can be tested within the time frame
  • Be open to multiple possible solutions

Most project teams are drawn from a single major, like mechanical engineering or computer/data science. However, we do accept projects with multidisciplinary content. A multidisciplinary team (or combination of teams) may be possible in some cases. Sponsors can work with any department in the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences or with students in academic programs in the Goergen Institute for Data Science.

If students need access to sensitive or proprietary information to complete the project, sponsors can request that the student group completes a non-disclosure agreement/intellectual property (NDA/IP) agreement.

Past projects include a:

See these articles for more examples of previous engineering and data science projects.


Engineering projects generally start in early fall and end in early May. Data science projects can start in either fall or spring and are one semester long.


At the end of the project, the sponsoring organization receive a copy of the final report and possibly a hardware or software prototype (depending on project).

Sponsor’s Role

Sponsors need to attend an initial meeting or phone call with the course instructor to define or refine the project’s scope.

Once a student team has been assigned, sponsors have an initial meeting with the team and provide any materials or data necessary for the project.

Sponsors have weekly or bi-weekly meetings (face-to-face or online) during the active project term (January–April for engineering projects; fall or spring for data science projects). These meetings allow student teams to provide sponsors with formal and informal progress reports, as well as an opportunity for the teams to seek advice, help, and better understanding of the context/motivations behind the project.

In early May, engineering students have an exit meeting with their sponsor to transfer the final report and any deliverables. (Data science projects have a similar exit meeting at the end of the project, fall or spring.) In addition, sponsors are invited to attend the team presentation during Design Day (held at the end of April or beginning of May).

Student Teams

Student teams usually have three or four students from the same major. However, larger teams (or multiple teams) might work on a project with larger scope.


Design projects are screened to assess adequacy of local resources and time. Generally, there is no cost to the sponsoring organization for the project work, and student groups usually have a small budget (around a few hundred dollars) available for supplies and/or access to University of Rochester high performance computing resources. If a project requires significant materials or resources beyond this, the sponsor may need to agree to provide funding or other support as part of the project plan. This will be discussed and resolved with the instructor early in the process.

Sponsors need to make a time commitment to advise and mentor their student team on a pre-agreed basis during the active project duration.


Interested in sponsoring a Senior Design project? Complete the online Senior Design project request form.


Contact Paul Funkenbusch, associate dean of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at (585) 275-3371 or with any questions about Senior Design projects.