Capstone Program


The two-semester Capstone program (MAE 4800 and 4810) provides an opportunity for students to solve real engineering problems while working closely with faculty and industry sponsors. Sponsors provide the project requirements, funding, and mentorship, the faculty provide overall project guidance and management, and the students provide the solutions.

The overall program goal is to improve students’ “design to realization” skills. Student progress is closely monitored through lectures, lab sessions, formal design reviews, informal meetings, and oral presentations. The program also incorporates cutting edge modeling and management software to help familiarize students with tools they will likely encounter during their careers.

Sponsors benefit by having one of their important engineering problems be the top priority of a student team. Often these projects are ones the sponsor may not have the time or resources to pursue internally. Having a committed student team dedicated to the project provides the sponsor with a very cost-effective solution. The sponsor also receives all IP, documentation, prototypes, and materials from the project. One additional benefit of the program is that students become familiar with a corporate environment and how things get done in that industry.

Multidisciplinary projects, including mechanical and aerospace engineering students and faculty and students from other USU departments, are encouraged. Projects of this type more closely resemble those they will encounter in industry.


Capstone I (MAE 4800) – Project Design

At the start of the first semester students select a project they would like to work on from among the potential projects submitted by sponsors. Student project teams are formed and each team meets with its sponsor to understand and refine the project requirements. These requirements, when combined with independent research, become the basis for the project design plan document. The document outlines the planned engineering methodologies, schedules, budgets, and any specialized materials.

During this semester, students present peer-critiqued formal design reviews. Sponsors are highly encouraged to attend these reviews and provide guidance.

Capstone II (MAE 4810) – Project Build

This semester’s focus is on the construction of the project. The teams create, test, refine, and demonstrate engineering prototypes. At the end of the semester, each team provides a written design document and delivers their final prototypes. The report summarizes the project, describes the alternate solutions considered, and details the selected final design. Each team also delivers an oral presentation of the completed project to the sponsor, faculty advisors, and peers.

Project Success

Three hundred plus capstone projects have been successfully completed over the life of the program. Some have resulted in marketable products and several more are in various stages of determining their marketability.

Several projects have received national and international recognition including multiple awards in government and industry sponsored student competitions. Some recent examples include:

  • 1st Place in the 2018 AFRL Student Design Challenge
  • 2nd place overall in the 2017 Human Powered Vehicle Competition, 1st place in the Women's Speed Event, 3rd place in the Men's Speed Event, and 2nd place in the Endurance Event
  • 3rd place overall in the 2016 Human Powered Vehicle Competition, 2nd place in the Innovation Event, and 1st place in the Endurance Event

Projects completed for industry sponsors during the 2019-2020 academic year include test systems, new designs, proof of concept, automations, and product improvements.


Projects are more likely to be successful when sponsors are involved with the project outcome. Sponsors are asked to designate a mentor from their organization to work with the student team. Mentors provide critical insights that help to ensure projects meet their design requirements. This mentorship is invaluable to a project’s success.

Our sponsors represent a broad cross-section of industry and government including companies in the manufacturing, construction, health care, education, aerospace, consumer, and defense segments. We gratefully acknowledge their support!

Some of our current sponsors include:

Campbell Scientific
Dtect Systems
GE Healthcare
Hill Air Force Base
Idaho National Laboratory
Northrop Grumman
Novak Conversions
Space Dynamics Laboratory
Wasatch Photonics
Western Metals Recycling
ZAGG Brands


If you have a project you would like to sponsor, please contact us at to set up a time to talk about the project and how best to schedule its inclusion in the program.