Becoming a Partner

Thank you for your interest in partnering with the University of Wisconsin – Madison Mechanical Engineering Senior Design program! Partners in our design program engage with a team of university students as they work to solve a real-world design problem over the course of two semesters under the guidance of one of our faculty members. Your participation in our program as an industry partner has an immeasurable impact on our students, their projects, and their careers. To learn more about the program and how to get involved, please read the below FAQs. To submit a project, click the button below.

Submit a Project

Design Project FAQs

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

What kind of projects do design teams work on?

All kinds. For a list of previous projects, click here.

How many students work on a project and how long do projects last?

Project teams typically have 4 students and last two semesters, running both from September to May and from January to December. Each semester ends with a milestone presentation and paper. In addition, at the end of the project students participate in a design symposium, where they share their designs and demonstrate their prototypes.

How are projects selected?

Project selection is based on student preferences and happens before the start of the semester.

What is the expected level of engagement required of a sponsor?

As part of the course, we ask sponsors to interact regularly with student design teams throughout each semester (weekly or bi-weekly is best) and participate in milestone presentations. Typically, sponsors spend about 10-15 hours engaging with the team per semester. Responsiveness is essential to getting the most out of a design team. We also strongly encourage sponsors to attend the design symposium at the end of the project.

Who covers prototyping costs?

If a physical prototype is required (we strongly prefer this), prototyping expenses are covered by the sponsor. Typically, students work directly with the sponsor to purchase necessary material and equipment for prototyping expenses. Prototypes are returned to sponsors at the end of the project.

How do you handle intellectual property (IP) and non-disclosure agreements (NDA)?

We prefer to work on projects that do not have intellectual property concerns, as these make project administration easier. However, we do have a standard IP-Assignment and NDA document for the course here.

Are sponsors required to donate money to the university in order to participate in the program?

No donation is required. However, sponsors may opt to make a small donation ($500 – $1000) to pay for student material fees for both semesters and to expedite small purchases when prototyping. Larger donations are certainly welcome and are typically used to purchase equipment and consumables for general use to enhance the design experience for all students. All donations are used to support the design program.

How do I submit a project?

To submit a project, all you need is a paragraph description of the project and contact information for the project lead. You can submit projects using this google form. The form takes about 5 minutes to complete. Typical deadlines for submissions are August 15th for inclusion in the fall semester and January 15th for inclusion in the spring semester.

Who do I contact for more information?

Michael Cheadle

Dr. Michael Cheadle
Assistant Teaching Professor
University of Wisconsin – Madison
(608) 890-3951

ME Senior Design Gear Logo-small