The Role of the Faculty Advisor

The faculty advisor supervises the team from the start to the end of the project (one semester for computer science, two semesters for engineering). To help the team achieve success, the faculty advisor must:

  • Guide the team during the design process, ensuring a project deliverable.
  • Connect the team to technical resources and experts necessary to understand and complete the project.
  • Help the team establish and meet benchmarks.
  • Facilitate the student-corporate relationship.
  • Foster teamwork and self-confidence.

One of an advisor’s most difficult tasks is finding the right supervisory balance on the project.

Students should come up with their own solutions.  The faculty advisor’s role is to advise and guide the students, but not solve the problem for them. Faculty advisors are permitted to provide technical advice but should minimize contributions of intellectual property to the project.

Expectations of the Faculty Advisor

Faculty advisors should expect to spend an average of two hours per week working with each team. A summary of the tasks expected are listed below:

  • Be familiar with the project. Know the project goals, status and individual team members’ contributions. 
  • Ensure that the project’s scope remains realistic.
    If the scope is too large, the students won’t be able to deliver.
    If the scope is too small, they won’t be challenged.
  • Hold regular team meetings.
    Weekly meetings are recommended, especially at the beginning.
  • Maintain open communication with the corporate mentor and team.
    If possible, attend the corporate kick-off event with the team.  
  • Develop an effective team.
    Make certain the team members learn about the strengths and skills of one another to work effectively. Have them choose a team leader. Hold the students accountable for their assignments.