Our mission is to provide students in senior engineering design teams with challenging engineering projects from the Department of Defense and other U.S. Government organizations. Government project sponsors provide students with their domain expertise and advice, while university faculty supervise the academic work of the teams. The Capstone Marketplace provides resources and administrative support for project teams, and guides the teams on typical industry engineering processes and system engineering techniques.
Previous research has demonstrated that students who have worked on multidisciplinary Capstone projects have increased interest and proficiency in applying basic systems engineering concepts to their developments. They also have better appreciation for applications of methods and tools across different engineering disciplines.
1. Sponsors give us problems
The Capstone Marketplace collects topics that require applied technology solutions from the DOD and other government organizations. Potential government sponsors submit a short description of their problems to the Marketplace using the form in the “Resources” section of this site. Graphics depicting the problems and concepts of interest are often included. The Marketplace works with government sponsors to shape a body of new Capstone “Research Topics” that are posted on the Marketplace site starting at the end of each Academic Year.
2. Faculty Advisors and Students express interest in the Research Topics
For universities, the Capstone Marketplace proposal process starts with Faculty Advisors and/or students registering to browse the full Marketplace website. Faculty or students submit “Expression Of Interest” (EOI) information on Research Topics they want to pursue. It’s not a requirement for a student team to be formed when an EOI is submitted, faculty advisors typically submit EOI’s over the Summer. Our ideal Capstone teams are made up of senior undergraduate engineers and their Faculty Advisors, working on multidisciplinary topics; teams can include students in different core studies such as business or operations research when appropriate. Graduate students may participate on undergraduate Capstone teams where they bring additional educational value to the team.
3. Requests For Proposals and Capstone Awards
Before the start of the Fall academic semester, Capstone Marketplace managers match EOI’s received with the body of Research Topics and projected Capstone funds. The Marketplace sends a Request For Proposal (RFP) for each EOI received, for the Research Topics that are still open. Basic requirements for formats and submissions of Capstone Proposals are listed on the website. Proposals will be evaluated and contract awards made. Marketplace managers announce awards as the Fall semester starts. Two semester projects are preferred. Universities receive Firm Fixed Price (FFP) contracts from the System Engineering Research Center (SERC) at Stevens Institute, for each student design team. Faculty and students are expected to be knowlegeable of contract terms, schedules, and deliverables. This is done to introduce students to basic frameworks of contracts common in industry.
4. Government Sponsors support teams
Government sponsors (the customers) typically interact with student teams at least once a month, to review project status. Each student team should have a designated liaison to communicate with the sponsor, to address questions or provide needed advice.
5. Faculty Advisors guide teams
Faculty are responsible for the student teams’ academic work. Capstone Marketplace managers match the research objectives and deliverables to each university’s design course syllabus. Capstone teams are required to document their development activities and project status under the FFP contract.
6. Student results
Typically, student teams will present status and results at two interim reviews (at the mid-point of each semester), and in major reviews at the end of each semester. The final review, usually at the conclusion of the Spring semester, can include demonstrations of prototypes, technical data, and the presentation of the team’s final report. At the conclusion of each review, project information is archived at Stevens and shared with government customers.
7. Sponsors provide feedback
After each review sponsors provide feedback to student teams, sharing their experiences and assessments of the team’s performance.
SERC Capstones are government funded research and development. SERC resources Capstone teams using DOD funds that are provided to universities through subcontracts. Although the university, faculty, or students can declare and own intellectual property (IP) developed on the projects, the government has the right to use any Capstone IP without royalty. Details on government research and IP are provided in the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), contact the Capstone Marketplace with any questions.
At the conclusion of the Capstone work, each government customer can choose to recover prototypes, technical data, or residual materials, or these items may be retained by the universities for follow-on Capstone activities.