UT Dallas Advisors get the opportunity to advise students through the final project of their school career

Overview of the Program

UTDesign Capstone team with Tech Titans award

Every UT Dallas engineering and computer science senior is required to work on a team-oriented capstone project (senior design course). This final project lets them fully engage in the design process as well as use their teamwork, project-management and problem-solving skills.

UTDesign is a program designed to provide our students with a meaningful experience while working on their capstone project. UTDesign partners with the industry to bring the students the opportunity to work on real computer science problems.

UTDesign projects are proposed, sponsored, mentored and owned by companies. Students not only get to work on real world problems, but also get to work in an environment similar to industry professionals.

A UT Dallas Advisor is a professor or instructor from UT Dallas who agrees to supervise a team of 4 to 6 students working on an industry proposed project. The UT Dallas Advisor lends his/her expertise to the project topic and provides guidance to team members as they execute the project. The UT Dallas Advisor’s work complements the guidance provided by the corporate mentor.

Benefits

Learn what is occurring in industry and possibly further your research
Interact with engineers from industry and build your professional network
Help build relationships between the Jonsson School and local companies
Share your specialized expertise with a team of dedicated, highly motivated students
Support a key program that prepares our students for engineering careers
Help distinguish our graduates from those of other universities

Roles

The UT Dallas Advisor advises the team from the start to the end of the project (one semester for computer science, two semesters for engineering). To help the team achieve success, the UT Dallas Advisor must:

  • Advise the team during the design process, ensuring a project deliverable
  • Connect the team to technical resources and experts necessary to understand and complete the project
  • Help the team establish and meet benchmarks
  • Facilitate the student-corporate relationship
  • Foster teamwork and self-confidence

One of a UT Dallas Advisor's most difficult tasks is finding the right advisory balance on the project.

Students should come up with their own solutions. The UT Dallas Advisor's role is to advise and guide the students, but is not to solve the problem for them. UT Dallas Advisors are permitted to provide technical advice but should minimize contributions of intellectual property to the project.

Expectations

UT Dallas Advisors should expect to spend an average of two hours per week working with each team. A summary of the tasks expected is as follows:

  • Be familiar with the project. Know the project goals, status and individual team members’ contributions.
  • Ensure that the project’s scope remains realistic.
    If the scope is too large, the students won’t be able to deliver.
    If the scope is too small, they won’t be challenged.
  • Hold regular team meetings.
    Weekly meetings are mandatory.
  • Maintain open communication with the corporate mentor and team.
    If possible, attend the corporate kick-off event with the team.
  • Develop an effective team.
    Make certain the team members learn about the strengths and skills of one another to work effectively. Have them choose a team leader. Hold the students accountable for their assignments.

UT Dallas Advisors should expect to spend an average of two hours per week working with each team. A summary of the tasks expected is as follows:

  • Be familiar with the project. Know the project goals, status and individual team members’ contributions.
  • Ensure that the project’s scope remains realistic.
    If the scope is too large, the students won’t be able to deliver.
    If the scope is too small, they won’t be challenged.
  • Hold regular team meetings.
    Weekly meetings are mandatory.
  • Maintain open communication with the corporate mentor and team.
    If possible, attend the corporate kick-off event with the team.
  • Develop an effective team.
    Make certain the team members learn about the strengths and skills of one another to work effectively. Have them choose a team leader. Hold the students accountable for their assignments.

Budget

Each UTDesign Engineering project team has a budget of $2,000 for materials and up to $1,000 towards fabrication costs, if any. And each Computer Science project team has a budget of $1,000. This allowance can be used only for materials and supplies needed for the project.

Some projects may require equipment that exceeds the assigned budget. In this case, the team should work with the UTDesign department director and corporate mentor to determine the best way to proceed.

Every purchase needs approval from the team’s UT Dallas Advisor. Purchase request forms will be returned to the team if they have not been previously approved by the UT Dallas Advisor. Approval can be done through email or by signing the request form.

The UTDesign purchase process document provides all the information needed to order what the team needs for the project.

It is very important that your team reads and understand the procedure.

FAQ

Q

What is a typical project schedule?

A

For a sample schedule, please visit this link.

Q

How are project stations assigned?

A

Each team is assigned a project station for the duration of the project. Project stations include work and storage space, as well as necessary equipment, as applicable. Table assignment is done by the UTDesign Studio shop manager, Gene Woten, in collaboration with the appropriate Faculty Director.