the Technology Interface / Fall 98  
Industrially-Sponsored Senior Projects
Answers to Tough Questions

 
by
 
David E Roth Robert Light
School of Engineering and Engineering Technology Associate Provost
Penn State Erie, The Behrend College Penn State Erie, The Behrend College
Erie, PA 16563 Erie, PA 16563
rcv@psu.edu rwl2@psu.edu
 
 
ABSTRACT
Many universities and industries have realized the benefits of collaborating on industrially sponsored senior capstone projects. Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, has been active in capstone Senior projects since 1988. Over the years, this university/industrial interaction has fortunately not resulted in any major problems. However, it is a good philosophy to "prepare for the worst, while still hoping for the best." This paper describes some of the deliberate precautions that are taken early in the student project development phase to address many potential problems between the university and the industrial sponsors. Such problems could be as minor as sharing proprietary information to holding the university liable for student results or even patent right issues. A model document is shown in APPENDIX A as a guide for schools and industry to use in addressing some of the issues discussed. By sharing these precautionary ideas, it is expected that other schools would take advantage of the benefits of having industry/university student projects, and ensuring these programs would remain strong for many years.

I. INTRODUCTION

There is much written on the benefits of industrially-sponsored senior capstone engineering projects [1][2][3][4][5][6]. Benefits are readily identified for all those involved in the senior project, including: the university, the industry, the students, and the professor(s) monitoring the project [7]. Although the benefits are numerous, there are potential problems in planning, implementing, and maintaining a successful senior project. Examples of such problems could be faculty resources and time commitments for project monitoring, or even faculty expertise.  A brief review will be first presented of the benefits of industrially-sponsored senior capstone engineering projects to each of the participants of the project will be presented, followed by answers to some tough questions concerning students, faculty, university, and the sponsoring industry.  All answers will reference  a written agreement used by Penn State Erie, The Behrend College (APPENDIX A) which is reviewed with the participating company sponsor early in the inception of the project. It is the intent of this paper to suggest that senior projects be viewed with certain precautions, and that these precautions are addressed and clearly communicated to all the participants.

II. BENEFITS TO STUDENTS

The senior capstone project with an industrial sponsor is designed predominately for the student benefit. Students learn that an extensive year-long project requires careful planning that may never have been experienced before in their education. The students learn the value of thorough communication to their student partners, to their faculty advisor, and to their company representative(s). As the project unfolds, the students gain a sense of pride and accomplishment as they realize that their efforts are indeed valuable to the industrial representatives. Confidence is often built within the students as they begin to fulfill the project goals and see that their year's effort has gone from vaguely defined engineering problems to valuable solutions.

Students see a valuable way to learn about a certain type or size of industry. As they prepare for selecting places to interview for future full-time employment, the contacts and experiences of their senior project can be of a help. Résumés include the senior project and the industry sponsoring the project, and as such, the practical experiences of the student are highlighted.

III. BENEFITS TO THE FACULTY AND UNIVERSITY

Of primary concern to faculty and the university is to provide a quality formal engineering education to the students. The collaboration with industry during a collaborative senior capstone project provides a perspective to engineers that is difficult, if not impossible, for academia to replicate. The inherent character of a "real" engineering problem motivates the students into performing to the best of their abilities as they work with both their faculty and industrial sponsors.

There are several benefits that directly benefit faculty: 1) Faculty often meet colleagues within the industry who are valuable resources within their areas of specialty; 2) Unique  facilities within the industry are visited   and may perhaps provide future  benefits valuable to the faculty; 3) Research projects, grants, publications, and scholarly activities, and other future collaborations can be a natural extension; 4) Faculty can stay abreast of state-of-the-art practices of industry; for example, costs, software, literature, and design codes; and 5)  Faculty occasionally seek part-time faculty to teach specialty courses, and locate them through the industrial representatives.

IV.   BENEFITS TO THE INDUSTRIAL SPONSOR

Similar to university goals, industry is also interested in providing a quality formal engineering education to the students. Industry wants to help educate future engineers by helping them understand real world problems, scheduling long-term projects, identifying the scope of work, and learning of the inherent pressures of industry. As with the university, industry learns of resources available through the university including faculty expertise, special laboratories, libraries, computer software, etc.  Available facilities are important to industry for possible professional  functions ranging from rooms for special seminars to space for experimental work. Future collaboration between industry and the university is fostered by the knowledge of these resources. Industry also gets a glimpse of alternative or perhaps innovative new problem-solving techniques that may be more effective because of the constantly changing availability and advancement of evolving technology within a university setting.

Other benefits to industry may include a "fresh" and innovative look at a nagging engineering problem. The students can naively cross inner department "turfs" and easily blend several company department perspectives, for instance, marketing and design or manufacturing. A project might even introduce the company to a "first look" at some emerging technique involving computer software or other fast-developing technologies. Often, a "back burner" type project, one that does not have a urgent solution time deadline, can be solved at little expense to the company. A company can get a project "off the ground" with an initial study performed by the students. The initial study then might generate a genuine internal company interest for the project to continue. Finally, recruiting new engineering employees is facilitated by working with the senior team of students on a company problem and with company personnel.

V. ANSWERS TO TOUGH QUESTIONS FROM STUDENTS

1. Can we (students). be held accountable for our answers to our project at a later time, say after graduation? It should be clear to the industry that the "expertise" for the project is derived from the industry itself (APPENDIX A , Section V.C., page 5). Furthermore, all results should be verified by the industry prior to use (APPENDIX A , Section V.F., page 5). Little formal written documentation is usually involved in a project, minimizing the risk of ill-use of student-generated information. Most results are formal oral presentations (APPENDIX A , Section V.G., page 6, and VII, page 10). A university disclaimer also helps in making this clear to the industry (APPENDIX A , Section XII, page 11). 2. Since  our (students) reports may be "naive" with respect to company standards or traditions, will student submitted work  be a potential embarrassment to us (students)?
Any written documentation should be minimal to allow for the students to creatively investigate, experiment, design and challenge results (See APPENDIX A, Section VII, page 10). If however, it is necessary to involve written documentation in the project, the following should be considered:
a. Write the scope and limitations of the documentation early in the project (APPENDIX A , Section VII.9.-10., page 7-8).
b. Use the expertise and resources of the company to write the documentation as it wishes. (APPENDIX A,Section V.C.,page 5).
c. Consider other arrangements with the university, other than senior projects that may include extensive documentation (APPENDIX A, Section VII,page 10).
3. As the project develops, what degree of expertise for solving the problem is considered from us (students)?
Naturally, the students are to try to generate accurate results, but even their best efforts will lack the expertise, experience, and resources of the sponsoring industry. The faculty advisor will typically have an interest in the project, but will not possess extensive experiences in the topic either. Therefore, the expertise remains to be the responsibility of the company (APPENDIX A, Section V.C., page 5 ). A university disclaimer helps to make this clear (APPENDIX A, Section XII, page 11).
4. Are we (students) actually "obligated" to complete a certain task/amount of work?
Since the students are responsible only to the university, the amount of work which they are held accountable for is limited to the university expectations as defined by the scope of work for the capstone course. A well-defined amount of work for the project should be mutually defined and agreed upon  by the industry, faculty advisor, and the students (APPENDIX A, Section VI.A., pages 7-11). This work then identifies the work expected for the university course. Since the students are doing this project under the scope of a university course, their obligations to fulfill the content of the project is the same as that for other courses taken (APPENDIX A, Section II, page 3).
5. Will the extent of the work involved keep changing as results become clearer?
The extent of the work should be very concisely defined at the beginning of the project to allow the student to plan the work required to complete the project while taking other course work (APPENDIX A, Section VI.A.7.-11., pages 7, 8). It also safeguards the student from unanticipated and added work at the end of the project when their time is often limited. Since only attainable goals should be anticipated early in the project, other arrangements can be made for adding work into the project in case the identified goals are satisfied with unanticipated speed (APPENDIX A, Section VI.A.9., page 7). The student signifies agreement by signing their initials on the objective statement, goals, scope and limitations of the project. This agreement defines the amount of work that will be judged for a grade (APPENDIX A, Section II, page 3, and Section VI.A.7.-11., page 7,8).
6. Will we (students) need to sign any agreement for intellectual property issues that may "haunt" us in the future?
The company may require the student to sign confidentiality agreement issues and/or intellectual property issues. As such the student is obligated to fulfill the requirements of the agreement, and are indeed held accountable. The university, however, is not a part of the students agreement since it has no employment arrangement with the student in industrially-sponsored projects. The university may be asked to have their appropriate officials sign similar agreement(s) as those of the students obligating the faculty member involved to abide by the confidentiality or intellectual property agreements (APPENDIX A, Section IX and X, page 11).
VI. ANSWERS TO TOUGH QUESTIONS FROM FACULTY OR UNIVERSITY
1. If the faculty member who is advising the students on a project is a "registered professional engineer", arenít the results  therefore considered accurate, credible and reliable for the company's use?
The student results are not professionally sealed/stamped by the faculty member involved in the project. The faculty member acts only as an advisor for the project, and is not in-charge of the project or supervising the project (APPENDIX A, Section IV.C., page 4). The company is still obligated to review the results (APPENDIX A, Section V.F, page 5), and provide the necessary expertise for the project (APPENDIX A, Section V.C., page 5). Other arrangements can be made, other than senior project, if this type of project supervision is required (APPENDIX A, Section VII, page 10). A university disclaimer helps to make this clear (APPENDIX A, Section XII, page 11).
2. By involvement in this project, are faculty portraying a certain expertise that goes beyond the faculty memberís actual educational specialties?
There is no pretense about it. The faculty member acts only as  an advisor/mentor to the students (APPENDIX A, Section IV.C, page 4), and not considered an expert. If expertise is required from the faculty member, then other arrangements with the university may be more appropriate than a student senior project (APPENDIX A, Section V.C, page 5).
3. Is the work of the project going to escalate into an unmanageable scope, and therefore draw erroneous or even embarrassing results?
A well-defined amount of work for the project should be identified by the industry, faculty advisor and the students (APPENDIX A, Section VI.A.7.-11., page 7,8). This work then identifies the work expected for the university course. Since the students are doing this project under the scope of a university course, their obligations to fulfill the content of the project is the same as for other courses taken. The extent of the work should be very concisely defined at the beginning of the project to allow the student to plan the work required to do the project while taking other course work (APPENDIX A, Section VI.A.7.-11., pages 7, 8). It also safeguards the student from unanticipated and added work at the end of the project when their time is often limited. Since only attainable goals should be anticipated early in the project, other arrangements can be made for adding work into the project in case the identified goals are satisfied with unanticipated speed (APPENDIX A, Section VI.A.9., page 7).
4. Could any misunderstanding be realized in the scope of the project, restrictions of disclosure, or even photograph restrictions.
These issues are indeed important, and should be made clear to all involved early in the project. It is expected that these issues be carefully dealt with and either initialed or signed as appropriate (APPENDIX A, Section VI.A, 1.-10.,pages 6-8, and Sections VI.A.12.-16., page 8).
5. Faculty workloads are already overburdened. How can faculty add this commitment to an already full workload?
All the work of the industrial-sponsored project should be done by the students and not the faculty member (APPENDIX A, Section IV.C, page 4). The faculty member's role is clearly advisory. However, the faculty member will usually be the contact between the students and the industry, and will be present at each student/industry meeting. Also, student performance on the projects will be assessed by the faculty member (APPENDIX A, Section IV C, page 4). See also the answer to question 3 of this section.
VII. ANSWERS TO TOUGH QUESTIONS FROM INDUSTRY
1. How does the industry deal with protecting proprietary information within the company
Protecting proprietary information is important to the company sponsoring the project.  As such, protection of proprietary information should be dealt with early in the project. Prior to the start of any project the sponsor should indicate to the university any nondisclosure issues, including any  proprietary issues including such things as photographing of sponsorís facilities, word phrasing to be avoided in project titles or in other materials (e.g. "part failure" or "not to code standards"). The faculty member(s) involved would then advise the students on these issues (APPENDIX A, Section IX, page 11).

It should be noted, however, that the student(s) is not an employee of the university, and as such, their actions are independent of any sponsor-university agreements related to the disclosure restrictions. Nondisclosure agreements directly with the student(s) involved in the project may be necessary, and as such, the students would independently determine if they could abide by and sign an agreement directly with the sponsor (APPENDIX A, Section IX, page 11).

2. What if the university wants to publish anything dealing with this project?
Project results and recommendations are the property of the industrial sponsor and will not be included in any published or presented material of the university without prior approval of the sponsor. The sponsor shall have the opportunity to review materials in order to recommend the removal of any proprietary information. It is expected that the sponsor will respond to the university in a timely manner (APPENDIX A, Section VIII, page 10).
3. What if a publicly exposed written "title" of the project is unacceptable to the companyís  interests?
The wording of a title for a project normally gets public exposure, as does a short summary of the project. Sometimes the company has reasons why this public exposure be minimized. If so, then the company's desire for minimal public exposure should be agreed to early in the project, and should be respected throughout the project through special arrangements. However, even if public exposure is not restricted by the company, care should be taken to respect the company's interests in wording the title and the project summary. After the wording for the project title or short project summary are agreed upon by the company and university project  participants, a formal approval should be requested by the university project team. This formal approval can be simplified by requesting the company representative  to simply "initial" the wording to be made public (APPENDIX A, Section VI.7 and 8, page 7).
4. Should the company sign any "contracts" dealing with the expenses of this project?
Since these projects are part of credit-related courses, they are not handled through a "contract." The funds requested for the project are considered a gift to the university. The funds are handed through the Office of Gifts and Endowments (OGE), with no indirect costs included.
A typical gift  is requested for those projects which heavily involve university resources such as the manufacturing lab, materials testing labs, or computer facilities. This gift may be used for presentation material costs, testing, fixture/machining costs, computer software/maintenance/hardware expenses, and travel/meal expenses. In addition, the gift may a portion of the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam fee for the students, or special career and placement resources for the seniors. The gift may also support the costs for the students to present papers at out-of-town meetings such as the student professional society regional conferences.

If there is an expensive item(s) which is foreseen in the project, this cost would be outside the range of the "Financial Gift" (APPENDIX A, Section V.E., page 5) which typically meets the expenses of minor project materials. Extraordinary expenses for materials, instruments, travel/lodging, rapid prototyping, etc. (APPENDIX A, Section VI.16., page 8) will need to be separately negotiated early in the project. The faculty member and the industry representative need to identify these costs and resolve a means of dealing with the expenses.

5. Should the company insist that the students, faculty, or the university representatives sign non-disclosure agreements?
Issues dealing with confidentiality or intellectual property may require written agreements between the company and the university participants (APPENDIX A, Section IX and X, page 11). Nondisclosure agreements directly with the student(s) involved in the project may be necessary, and as such, the students would independently determine if they could abide by and sign an agreement directly with the sponsor. Because the student(s) is not an employee of the university, it will be up to the student(s) to determine if they are willing to sign an agreement. In most cases, these separate research agreements are not required for a senior project. However, it may be necessary, in rare cases, to reassign the student(s) if they are asked to, and refuse to sign such an agreement (APPENDIX A, Section IX and X, page 11).
6. If the project includes the addition of intellectual property, how is this handled?
If patents, copyrights, trade secrets or other intellectual property are involved in the project, a research agreement is generally required. An agreement would be signed between the sponsor and the university, with a second and separate agreement (if required by the sponsor) signed between the student(s) and the sponsor. Again, because the student(s) is not an employee of the university, it will be up to the student(s) to determine if they are willing to sign an agreement. In most cases, these separate research agreements are not required for a senior project. However, it may be necessary, in rare cases, to reassign the student(s) if they are asked to, and refuse to sign such an agreement (see APPENDIX A, Section IX and X, page 11).
7. Can the company make important decisions based on these results?
Many projects result in information of value to the company in making important decisions. The company is obligated to review the results (APPENDIX A, Section V.F., page 5). The student results are not professionally sealed/stamped by the faculty member involved in the project. The faculty member acts only as an advisor for the project, and is not in charge of the project or supervising the project (APPENDIX A , Section IV.C. page 4), and does not  provide the necessary expertise for the project. Other arrangements can be made, other than a senior project, if this type of professional engineering  supervision is required (APPENDIX A, Section V.C., page 5). A university disclaimer helps to make this clear (APPENDIX A , Section XII, page 11).
8. Can the company expect written documentation of the project for their files?
Important results often are generated in these senior projects, and it is tempting to want as much written documentation as there is. However, this timely task of formalizing documentation eliminates valuable learning time that the students can devote to broadening their investigation and brainstorming. If however, documentation is important in the specified project, this is to be discussed early in the project so that it becomes part of the scope of the work (APPENDIX A, Section VI.A.10., page 8). If formal written laboratory testing reports, written data, written formal letters of conclusions, computer printouts, or other written documents are needed by the sponsor, then it is imperative that this documentation be done in a careful and professional manner.
Sometimes, carefully written and extensive documentation is necessary, and to some extent could be part of the scope of the project. However, if extensive documentation is necessary, it could be handled outside the realm of the senior project. For instance, a student(s) could be hired upon graduation to complete any/all of the written documentation that the sponsor desires. It is also possible to establish a contract with either the student(s) or faculty member to deal with necessary written documentation (APPENDIX A, Section VII, p10).
VIII. CONCLUSIONS

It is the intent of this paper to suggest that industrially-sponsored senior projects be viewed with certain precautions, and that these precautions are addressed, and clearly communicated to all the participants. If these precautions are addressed in a timely manner, all participants involved with senior projects can benefit from this senior year experience of involving industry in a student's formal education.

IX. REFERENCES

[1] Beckman, Kathy, "Closing the Industry-Academia Gap," IEEE Software, v14, n6, Nov 1997 p49-57.

[2]  Bosley, Deborah S., "Collaborative Partnerships:Academic and Industry Working Together,"  Technical Communications, v42, n4, Nov 1995, pp 611-619.

[3] Carrots, Peter J., "Mixing Industry and Academia," Civil Engineering, v 63, n11, Nov 1993, p6.

[4] Darrow, Barbara, "The Marriage of Industry and Academia," Design News, v 44, n18, Sept 19,1988, pp. 22-23.

[5] Falcioni, John, G., "Industry and Academia Come Together," Mechanical Engineering, v 118, n3, March 1996, p4.

[6] Lamancusa, J.,Soyster, A., George, Robert, "Industry-Based Projects in Academia-What works and What Doesn't," 1997 ASEE Conference Proceedings, June 15-18, 1997, Milwaukee, WI, pp.1-14.

[7]  Roth, D.E., Bandstra, J. "Problem and Expectations of Industrial Sponsored Undergraduate Senior Engineering Technology Projects using FEA," Proceedings of 1992 International ANSYS Conference, Pittsburgh, PA, pp 3.53-3.58, 1992.


APPENDIX A

Penn State Erie
Industrially-Sponsored
Senior Engineering/Engineering Technology
Capstone Projects
1998-99 Academic Year

This document includes important information for successfully forming and completing industrially-sponsored senior projects in collaboration with the School of Engineering and Engineering Technology of Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. Information is included on developing and planning the project, identifying the projectís scope and limitations, costs, and identifying important dates. It also describes the extent of involvement of each participant, the normal form of deliverables, the verification of the final results, and various other start-up issues. Issues of nondisclosure of proprietary information, publications, derived patents, and a university disclaimer are addressed. All participants of senior projects should carefully review this document and resolve any questions or concerns prior to student work commencing on the sponsored project.

Appendix A, page 1 of 11
APPENDIX A 
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I.     MISSION STATEMENT................................................................................  p 3
II.   DEFINING AN INDUSTRIALLY-SPONSORED PROJECT...................... p 3
III.  BENEFITS TO PARTICIPANTS................................................................... p 3
IV.  ROLE OF THE UNIVERSITY....................................................................... p 4 
V.   ROLE OF THE INDUSTRIAL SPONSOR................................................... p 4,5
VI.  PROJECT TASKS BY SEMESTER.............................................................. p 6
            A. Fall Semester Tasks............................................................................... p 6-9
            B. Spring Semester Tasks........................................................................... p 10
VII.  PROJECT DELIVERABLES....................................................................... p 10
VIII. PUBLISHING ISSUES.................................................................................. p 11
IX. CONFIDENTIALITY ISSUES......................................................................... p 11
X. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ISSUES.......................................................... p 11 
XI. IMPORTANT DATES..................................................................................... p11
XII. UNIVERSITY DISCLAIMER........................................................................  p 11
 
Appendix A, page 2 of 11
Penn State Erie Industrially-Sponsored
Senior Engineering/Engineering Technology
Capstone Projects

I. MISSION STATEMENT

It is the mutual interest of both academia and industry to prepare engineering and engineering technology students for careers in their respective fields. Industrial-based senior design projects provide the students with a valuable learning experience that integrates their university education with the many important lessons inherent in the industrial sector. Examples of this valuable learning experience are exposing the students to long-term project planning, systematically completing long-term goals, and frequently communicating their project progress so both industrial and academic expectations are successfully met.

II. DEFINING A PENN STATE ERIE INDUSTRIALLY- SPONSORED SENIOR PROJECT

An industrially-sponsored senior project is intended to serve as a capstone experience for engineering and engineering technology students. The senior project is completed within the framework of a two-semester capstone course (4-credit total). taken during a studentís senior year. The actual project is initially identified by the industrial sponsor and is subsequently refined by a team of students and a faculty project advisor. Student team progress is periodically reviewed by the respective faculty project advisor in conjunction with the instructor of the capstone course.

The industrial sponsor is essential in enriching the student experiences and in helping the students succeed in the project. The sponsor not only helps financially, but also provides the framework for the project, the expertise, and occasionally the resources to support the student team during the implementation of the project.

It should be kept in mind that these are undergraduate students that typically lack the experience of the industrial sponsor. Therefore, projects should be selected appropriate to senior level undergraduate students. Also the students are not employees of the university, and as such, their response to the project, its scope, obligations, and other issues are not within the direct control of the university. It is ultimately up to the student, as it is with any credit course, to determine how much effort will be put forth on the project.

III. BENEFITS TO PARTICIPANTS

The benefits of industry and academia collaborating on senior projects are numerous, and affect each participant in an advantageous way. The students receive a better, more rounded education by including the experiences that industry can impose. In addition, with this experience they have better opportunities for employment upon graduation. The financial gift is used mostly for costs that would otherwise burden the student. Industry benefits by better preparing students entering the work place, and by getting a "close up" look at several seniors who may be perspective employees. Industry also gets a better insight into the aspects of the project which they initiated. Often a project results in a very direct benefit to the sponsor. Academia benefits by having industry help in motivating the students to pull together their education in a long-term project. It also benefits the university by exposing the many resources that industry possesses; for example, guest lecturers, specialized laboratory or manufacturing equipment, and facility tours.

Appendix A, page 3 of 11

IV. ROLE OF THE UNIVERSITY

A. Capstone Experience
The University dedicates part of a 1-credit course during the fall semester, and most of a 3-credit course in the spring for this "capstone" experience.
B. Student Team
Students who are interested in the industrial project will be assembled in a project team. The size of the team will be determined in accordance with the magnitude of the project, with team size generally from two to four students.
C. Faculty Advisor
A faculty advisor will be assigned to each project. Generally the advisor will have a special interest in the project and often some experience in the subject matter. Since the role of the faculty member is advisory, the work done on the projects will be totally student generated. However, the faculty member will generally serve as the contact between the students and industry, and will be present at each student/industry meeting. Student performance on the projects will be assessed by the faculty member.
D. University Resources
Normally the University resources will be used throughout the project. These include, in part, professors, testing laboratories, manufacturing equipment, library resources, computer facilities, industrial contacts, work space, and various other resources that are made available to the student.

 

V. ROLE OF THE INDUSTRIAL SPONSOR
A. Project Identification
The sponsor should identify an engineering problem appropriate in scope for the team and the time available. In addition the project is a part of 1-credit course the first semester, and most of a 3-credit course the second, the criteria for the size of the project should be based on each student delivering approximately 120 hours of time. Since this project is predominately a "capstone experience," the project should be appropriate to the studentís undergraduate experiences. In addition the complexity of the project is a key issue in project selection; a guide that is used to limit the level of complexity of a project is to "attempt to expand the new information and technologies beyond their normal course work by a reasonable and practical level based on the credit load involved."
B. Time Commitment
The sponsor will need to meet with the students and the faculty liaison enough times to adequately familiarize the students with the project and its general problems. A tour of the sponsorís facilities is generally recommended. Occasional meetings may also be necessary for keeping the students on track. The faculty advisor is normally the contact person to industry for any student meetings, and will usually be involved in each meeting. Additional time may also be necessary to deal with issues related to restrictions based on sponsor policies, and issues dealing with extraordinary costs, proprietary information, and intellectual property. Toward the end of the project, more meetings may be necessary to disseminate results and conclusions. Finally, the sponsorís liaison and other representatives are asked to be present at its teamís formal senior presentation on Saturday, May 1, 1999. The team is also expected to present the project at the sponsorís facility if requested.
Appendix A, page 4 of 11

C. Expertise
The industrial contacts and/or liaison serve as consultants to the project team. Although the students intend to provide complete and accurate results, it is ultimately the responsibility of the industrial sponsor to provide the expertise necessary for the project. The experience and resources available to the sponsor relating to the project are essential for the students to work toward useful results. The faculty member assigned as advisor may only have an interest and limited background in the area of the project, and therefore relies on the sponsor to provide the essential expertise when completing the project. If expertise is required from the faculty member, other arrangements with the University may be more appropriate than a student senior project.
 
D. Special Physical Resources
Sometimes it is necessary for the sponsor to provide specialized machining, testing, or other in-house support for a project. University resources will typically be used as required, but if special resources are needed, the availability and use of these sponsor resources should be discussed early in the project.
 
E. Cost/Gift To the University
Since these projects are part of credit-related courses, they are not handled through a "contract." The funds requested for the project are considered a gift to the University. The funds are handed through the Office of Gifts and Endowments (OGE)., with no indirect costs included.

A typical gift of $2,500 is requested for those projects that heavily involve Penn State Erie resources such as the manufacturing lab, materials testing labs, or computer facilities. This gift is used for presentation material costs, testing, fixture/machining costs, computer software/maintenance/hardware expenses, and travel/meal expenses. In addition, the gift pays half of the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam Fee for our students, and special career and placement resources for the seniors. The gift also supports the costs for our students to present at an ANSYS Users meeting in Pittsburgh, and offsets some costs for the 1999 Student American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Conference for Region V. Extraordinary expenses for materials, instruments, travel/lodging, rapid prototyping, etc. will need to be separately negotiated early in the project. Gifts should be received by the school no later than December 31. Send this gift payable to the METBD Senior Project Fund:

 
Professor David Roth
METBD Senior Projects Coordinator
10 Prischak Building
Penn State Erie, The Behrend College
Erie, PA 16565-1701
F. Verify results
All student results should be verified by the sponsor prior to use. Although it is the intent of the students to generate useful and accurate results, the students do not possess the sponsorís experience, expertise, and resources.
Appendix A, page 5 of 11

G. Final Formal Presentation
It is important that the sponsorís liaison and/or sponsorís officials attend the final formal presentation given by the students on Saturday, May 1, 1999 at Penn State-Behrend. The students work toward this presentation, and it is usually expected that the sponsorís liaison and/or representatives attend this formal presentation.
 

VI. PROJECT TASKS BY SEMESTER

A. Fall Semester Tasks
1. Identify Project.
In general, the sponsor identifies an appropriate student project by early September. Then, in a collaborative manner, a faculty member and the sponsor will discuss the scope and expectations of the project. A refined description of the project and its expectations will be completed by the students in collaboration with both the industrial sponsor and faculty. See also Role of the Industrial Sponsor, Project Identification, Section V.A., pg 4.
2. Identify Participants.
The industrial and University participants are to be identified. A sponsorís liaison and/or sponsorís engineer(s). involved in the project are identified as being resources for the students. The liaison will represent the sponsor throughout the project. A faculty member will be assigned to be the Penn State Erie advisor to the project and will ideally have some background in the proposed project area. Finally, one to four students are assigned to the project by the faculty member.
3. Review Responsibilities of Each Participant.
The sponsor, College, and student responsibilities are outlined, with questions resolved before proceeding with the project. It is recommended all participants fully understand all aspects of this document.
4. Become Familiar with Sponsor.
Early in the fall, the students are required to become acquainted with the sponsor, its products, and its relationship with other similar companies and competitors in the marketplace. Facility tours, sponsorís marketing materials, etc. are helpful to the students at this point.
5. Begin Documentation for Formal Presentations-Photographs.
The students find it helpful to take a photograph(s). of the exterior of the sponsorís building and any key sponsorís officials involved with the project. If these or other photographs of sponsorís facilities are in any way restricted, it is the obligation of the sponsor to explain these restrictions early in the projects so that all are aware of the extent of these restrictions.
Appendix A, page 6 of 11

 
6. Team Leader Responsibilities.
The students pick a team leader. The leader is the main contact for the student team and therefore needs to keep telephone numbers and E-mail addresses of each member. The team leader keeps a notebook of key information from each meeting (dated). and develops an "action list" for the group to address. This action list will be used and referred to at the beginning of each meeting. See Section VI.A.19., page 9. The leader generally chairs the regularly-scheduled team meetings.
7. Decide on a Title for the Project.
The students are required to create a title for the project. The title may be published along with the sponsorís name. Since the title is so important, it must be approved by both the sponsorís liaison and the faculty advisor and initialized by both, indicating their knowledge of and approval of the title. If publishing project titles, sponsorís names, or name of sponsorís officials are restricted, it is the obligation of the sponsor to identify these restrictions early in the project, put these restrictions and others in written form and forward them to the faculty advisor who will initial these restrictions.
8. Generate an Objective Statement.
The students are required to write an objective statement which briefly describes the general nature and expected outcome(s). of the project. Since this objective statement might be published, it is important that it be written and then approved and initialized by the sponsorís liaison. If this statement is restricted from being published, this restriction should be put in writing and forwarded to and initialized by the faculty advisor.
9. Generate Specific Goals.
The students are required to list specific goals of the project. These goals are generated along with the sponsor and the faculty advisor, and must be acceptable to each before the project commences. This list needs to be initialized by both the sponsorís liaison and the faculty advisor, thereby indicating their knowledge of and approval. It is cautioned to specify only goals which are realistically attainable, keeping in mind the inevitable unpredicted problems which are inherent in every project. Goals accomplishing physical improvements or products are very welcomed, however, more abstract goals are appropriate also; for instance, studying a problem, recommending future work, or discovering the nature and complexity of problems involved. Since only attainable goals should be listed, it is advisable to specify "if time remains, then..," thereby including goals that could be attained only if the project proceeds with few unexpected problems. It is cautioned that any specific goals not attained within the time allotted for the project will be dealt with by the faculty member by assignment of an appropriate grade. Of course, this project is a part of the studentsí formal course work for the semesters involved, and as such, there is to be no inferred obligations to the students or to the University of any incomplete goals, however close to being solved, that extends the project beyond the two-semester period.
Appendix A, page 7 of 11

 

10. Generate the Scope and Limitations.
The students are required to list the scope and limitations of the project. This list needs to be approved by both the sponsorís liaison and the faculty advisor and initialized by both, indicating their knowledge and approval. This list serves as a guide to the students in helping them plan their efforts for the project over the two-semester span. It also safeguards the student from unanticipated and added work at the end of the project.
11. Generate a Project Plan.
The students are required to develop a project plan (Gantt chart). This plan will identify the major phases of solving/studying the project, and will specify anticipated dates for start and completion of each phase listed. This plan needs to be approved by both the sponsorís liaison and the faculty advisor and initialized by both indicating their knowledge of and approval. Since this is a "best guess" plan of action, some adaptation may be necessary as unexpected problems are uncovered which may vary the times to complete various phases.
12. Discuss Deliverables.
Deliverables need to be addressed. See Project Deliverables, Section VII, page 10.
13. Discuss Publishing Issues.
Publishing issues need to be addressed. See Publishing Issues, Section VIII, page 11.
14. Discuss Confidentiality Issues.
The Sponsorís requirements for confidentiality need to be addressed. See Confidentiality Issues, Section IX, page 11.
15. Discuss Intellectual Property Issues.
Intellectual Property Issues need to be addressed. See Intellectual Property Issues, Section X, page 11.
16. Discuss Project Costs.
If there is an expensive item(s). which is foreseen in the project, this cost would be outside the range of our "Financial Gift"(See Costs/Gift To the University Section V.E., page 5) which typically meets the expenses of minor project materials. The faculty member and the sponsorís liaison need to identify these costs and resolve a means of dealing with the expenses. Examples could be the costs of consultants, building prototypes, use of instrumentation, or travel.
17. Conduct Project Meetings.
During the fall semester, the students usually meet bi-weekly with their faculty advisor. In addition, several meetings are generally necessary with the sponsorís liaison. The faculty advisor is usually present during all sponsorís meetings. All contact with the sponsor is usually via the faculty advisor so that the sponsor is not burdened with sporadic questions or requests. In addition, a two- or three-hour segment of time needs to be set aside early in the semester for a plant tour of the sponsoring industry and an initial sponsor/team meeting. Each scheduled student/advisor meeting should review the action list, review the work completed, discuss major items, assign specific action items to each team member, and then compose a new action list. The meeting notes will be kept be the team leader. See also Section on Team Leader Responsibilities, Section VI.A.6., page 7.
Appendix A, page 8 of 11

18. Begin Work on Project.
Since the Fall Semester has a low credit value assigned to the senior project, most of the student work is expected in the Spring Semester. The first semester is predominately used to get acquainted with the sponsor and its representatives, the resources available, and the extent of the problems involved in the project. A University computer account should be set-up for the project if needed. Also if necessary, equipment, reference materials, and literature should be ordered. Dates should be identified that will utilize the sponsorís employees or physical resources or the special services of other companies involved.
19. Team notebook
A notebook is to be kept by the team leader. The notebook should be neat, concise and maintain the following information in a professional manner.
    Title page including project title, year, phone and FAX numbers, E-mail addresses, and names of project participants

    Title sheet initialized by industrial sponsor

    Objective statement initialized by industrial sponsor

    Scope and limitation list initialized by industrial sponsor

    Proprietary confidentiality agreement signed by students, if required

    Dates of advisor and sponsorís meetings.

    Action lists and summary of actions completed

    Library use form

    Copies of letters of request for project essentials

    Data as collected

    Any other deliverables specified within the scope of the project.

 
20. A Formal Progress Review
Students will formally present their projects to the faculty on Saturday December 12, 1998. The presentation should include, the sponsor history/information, the people involved in the project, the objective(s)., the goals, the scope and limitations, the Gantt chart, new technologies that need to be investigated and any progress.
Appendix A, page 9 of 11

 

B. Spring Semester Tasks
1. Complete Work
Students will complete the project in this semester. It is important that the students show consistent and steady effort toward project completion, demonstrating good skills in managing a long-term project.
2. Weekly Meetings
Weekly meetings are usually required with the faculty advisor. Usually less frequent meetings are needed with the sponsorís liaison. These meetings are to be conducted by the team leader. See Team leader Responsibilities, Section VI.A.6., page 7.
3. Informal Reviews
It is necessary to review the major conclusions and results with the sponsorís liaison and faculty advisor in an informal manner before the formal presentation.
4. Specified Documentation.
Any written documentation that has been specifically requested within the scope of the project will be reviewed by the faculty advisor and put into the appropriate form which has been agreed to in the project scope.
5. Formal Presentation
The formal presentation is required on Saturday May 1, 1999. See also Role of Industrial Sponsor, Final Presentation, Section V.G., page 6.
 

VII. PROJECT DELIVERABLES

It is important to understand that the projects are typically designed to conclude with the studentsí final formal presentation during which the teamís recommendations and conclusions are generally orally presented to the sponsor.
Written documentation is discouraged for most projects. The reason is, if formal written laboratory testing reports, written data, written formal letters of conclusions, computer printouts, or other written documents are needed by the sponsor, then it is imperative that this documentation be done in a careful and professional manner. This timely task of formalizing documentation eliminates valuable learning time that the students can devote to broadening their investigation and brainstorming. If however, documentation is important in the specified project, this is to be discussed early in the project so that it becomes part of the scope of the work. See Role Of The Sponsor, verifying results, Section V.F., page 5.
Written documentation is sometimes necessary, and to some extent could be part of the scope of the project. However, if more extensive documentation is necessary, it could be handled outside the realm of the senior project. For instance, a student(s). could be hired upon graduation to complete any/all of the written documentation that the sponsorís desires. It is also possible to establish a contract with either the student(s). or faculty member to deal with necessary written documentation.
Appendix A, page 10 of 11

 

VIII. PUBLISHING ISSUES

Project results and recommendations are the property of the industrial sponsor and will not be included in any published or presented material of the University without prior approval of the sponsor. The sponsor shall have the opportunity to review materials in order to recommend the removal of any proprietary information. It is expected that the sponsor will respond to the University in a timely manner.
 

IX. CONFIDENTIALITY ISSUES

Prior to the start of any project the sponsor shall indicate to the University any nondisclosure issues, including such things as photographing of sponsorís facilities, phrasing to be avoided in project titles or in other materials (e.g.: failure or not to code standards)., and any other proprietary issues. The faculty member(s). involved would then advise the students on these issues. It should be noted, however, that the student(s). is not an employee of the University, and as such, their actions are independent of any sponsor-University agreements related to the disclosure restrictions. Nondisclosure agreements directly with the student(s). involved in the project may be necessary, and as such, the students would independently determine if they could abide by and sign an agreement directly with the sponsor.
 

X. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ISSUE

If patents, copyrights, trade secrets or other intellectual property is involved in the project, a research agreement is generally required. An agreement would be signed between the sponsor and the University, with a second and separate agreement (if required by the sponsor). signed between the student(s). and the sponsor. Again, because the student(s). is not an employee of the University, it will be up to the student(s). to determine if they are willing to sign an agreement. In most cases these separate research agreements are not required for a senior project. However, it may be necessary, in rare cases, to reassign the student(s). if they are asked to, and refuse to sign such an agreement.
 

XI. IMPORTANT DATES

 

XII. UNIVERSITY DISCLAIMER:

All data, recommendations, or conclusions derived from this undergraduate student project should be thoroughly verified by the sponsor if these results are to be used. Although it is the studentsí intent to generate useful results, the students do have limitations related to the sponsorís experience, expertise, and resources. It is not within the realm of this project for Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, or the project faculty advisor to concur, either directly or indirectly, with any student conclusion.
Appendix A, page 11 of 11