UTDesign Program Links Industry Needs
With Students’ Engineering Know-How
Five companies and a local municipality are harnessing the brainpower and enthusiasm of UT Dallas engineering students this semester in a course that presents student teams with real-world projects during their senior year.
“The capstone senior design class is the culmination of an engineering student’s education, and by including senior design projects that directly address the needs of industry, we are providing our students with valuable experience that will help them immediately become productive once they graduate,” said Mark W. Spong, dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at UT Dallas and holder of the Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair in Electrical Engineering.
Dubbed UTDesign, the program invites local industry and other organizations to propose projects to be undertaken by students majoring in electrical engineering, telecommunications engineering and computer engineering. Computer science and software engineering students are expected to become part of the program next spring.
“The program not only exposes senior-design students to real-world engineering problems, but it also provides our industry partners with early exposure to our graduating seniors,” said Ed Esposito, the Jonsson School’s assistant dean for industrial relations. “It also creates one more opportunity for our faculty to work with industry on problems of current interest.”
The organizations participating this fall are:
- The City of Plano Environmental Services Department.
- L-3 Communications Corp.
- Raytheon Co.
- RSTA Infrared Technology Division (formerly DRS).
- Photronics Inc.
- Zyvex Labs.
Under the program, organizations can propose one or more projects. Faculty members review the proposals at the beginning of the semester, and a team of three to six students is assigned to each project selected. The team visits the sponsoring organization early on and maintains frequent contact with a mentor there.
At the end of the semester, each team will provide a written report and make a presentation to the sponsoring organization. The team’s performance is evaluated jointly by the sponsoring organization and faculty mentors using the same criteria applied to conventional senior-design projects.
Sponsoring companies pay a $9,000 fee to support one team for the two-semester senior design classes, offsetting expenses incurred in running the course and helping purchase equipment, software and materials for the projects.
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