What is Capstone Design?

Capstone Design applies the engineering sciences to the design of a system, component or process. The projects reflect practical industrial and mechanical engineering design projects or may involve a combination of both disciplines. Students choose the particular design project with approval of appropriate faculty. Design teams are organized. Each project includes the use of open-ended problems, development and use of design methodology, formulation of design problem statements and specification, consideration of alternative solutions, feasibility consideration and detailed system descriptions. It also includes realistic constraints (such as economic factors and social impact).

A mechanical engineering Capstone team won the Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation from the National Braille Press for designing a low cost Braille embosser. For details see, the news stories from Northeastern and National Braille Press.

Capstone Mission

The mission of the MIE Senior Capstone Design course is as follows:

  • Involve students in a collaborative design project that requires them to frame a design problem, explore solutions, develop a single solution, and communicate these results in oral presentations and written reports.
  • Provide students with the experience of engineering a prototype or implementing a solution.
  • Broaden, deepen and integrate the background of the students.
  • Prepare students for the expectations and standards of the professional workplace.

Program Coordinators (IE = Jaeger-Helton, ME = Kowalski)

Our students' Capstone projects have created innovative technology products and next generation research instrumentation that have resulted in patents and licensing agreements. Read about recent examples:

  • Recent Sponsors:

    • ADMET, Inc
    • Alternative Fuel Foundation
    • AmeriCorps
    • Ametek Aerospace
    • Applied Biosystems, Inc.
    • Baystate Benefits Service
    • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
    • BJ's Wholesale Inc.
    • Boston YMCA
    • Boys and Girls Club of Boston
    • Brigham and Woman's Hospital
    • Chemical Engineering Department, Northeastern University
    • Children's Hospital
    • CSR Engineering
    • Delta Airlines
    • DSM Thermoplastic Elastomers, Inc.
    • Emplot+Ability
    • Foster Miller Inc.
    • General Motors Corporation
    • Harvard University
    • Harvard Medical School, Technology and Engineering Center
    • Harvard Vanguard MEdical Associates
    • Instron Corporation
    • iRobot
    • JetBlue
    • Johnson & Johnson Vision Care
    • Jola Venture
    • Joule Unlimited, Inc.
    • Konarka, Inc.
    • Mac-Gray Inc.
    • Malden Mills
    • McClellan Automotive
    • MobilLaurus
    • Natioanl Braille Press
    • NASA Ames Research Center
    • NuVant Energy Systems, Inc.
    • QinetiQ North America
    • Revere Graphics Worldwide, Inc.
    • Robert Bosch Corporation
    • South Shore YMCA
    • Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital
    • Spectral Sciences, Inc.
    • Staples
    • Strong Woman Strong Girls Inc.
    • Tyco Valves
    • Veterans Health Administration
    • Waters Corporation
    • Xandex Corporation
    • Zipcar

Project Sponsors

The breadth of engineering challenges, both ME and IE, reflect the diversity of the project sponsors. Our sponsors, both corporate and non-profits, range from the aerospace industry to biomedical and regional hospitals. Department faculty sponsor projects for related to their research interests and for custom equipment for their research labs and, increasingly, students enter the program bringing their own sophisticated projects.

Be a Sponsor

In many respects, our project sponsors are the life blood of the program. They bring current real world problems to the students and expect real solutions. Sponsors want to know the patent searches will be done and that intellectual property rights have been considered and protected.

The project sponsors must provide a contact person and are expected to provide timely feedback and interactions. The project should include a prototype deliverable or implemented solution. A "not for work" grant to be negotiated and expensive required items for the prototype are requested from the sponsor. Northeastern will provide computer simulation and basic machining processes. It is usually for the corporate sponsor and Capstone Design Coordinator to discuss and negotiate the details of this arrangement. Protection of the sponsor's intellectual property is a major concern throughout this process.

At the beginning of the two semester sequence, the students self-assemble into groups and, after reviewing project descriptions, indicate their preferences. The preferences are used to assign the projects. Once projects are assigned, the students meet with their faculty advisor weekly and with representatives of the sponsor, through onsite visits, Skype or teleconferences, on a basis determined by the sponsor. The evaluation and reporting processes are tightly structured. The program culminates with a day long series of public presentations judged by a panel of our alumni. The evaluation criteria and generic report templates are here: