Getting Involved with Senior Design

To keep our Senior Design course constantly fresh with project ideas that are relevant to industry needs, we are soliciting project ideas for future design teams. Industry partners and alumni are encouraged to consider ideas for small projects that a team of four seniors may tackle in one semester.

If you don't have an idea in mind but would like to enrich tomorrow's biomedical engineering leaders, there are plenty of opportunities. Read on to learn more.

Submitting Project Ideas and other Frequently Asked Questions

What types of ideas are best for Biomedical Engineering senior design projects?
How does the Weldon School handle intellectual property issues related to the idea?
How may I submit my idea?
What is the timeline for project submission?
May I or someone from my organization mentor a team?
Are there other ways to participate in the Senior Design course?
I have further questions...

Mentoring Guidelines

Video Spotlight on Senior Design Projects

Submitting Project Ideas and other Frequently Asked Questions

1. What types of ideas are best for the BME Design Projects teams?

Ideal design problems are relatively open-ended to encourage development of a novel solution to the problem. However, design projects are not the same as research problems. The intent of the senior design course is for students to design, build, and test a device, system, or procedure that solves a medically-related problem.

Design projects ideally are complex enough to be divided into three or four components so that each of the team members has a primary responsibility; one of those can be system integration. Please note that projects will not have mandatory deliverables as this is a learning experience and failure to deliver to industry specifications is possible. 

2. How does the Weldon School handle intellectual property issues related to the idea?

Terms surrounding project ideas that are proprietary, or are likely to generate intellectual property, are negotiated early between the company and Purdue. The Weldon School strives to resolve all potential issues before the team even gets started on the design project.

The best projects are open-ended design problems that will allow the students to develop novel solutions. At times, these solutions will merit IP protection. Our staff members have procedures to work with the Purdue University Office of Technology Commercialization and our Weldon School students to file a disclosure or provisional patent application.

If an industrial partner has suggested the project idea, and it is closely related to their own projects, it is typically negotiated for them to have the right of first refusal to license any technology developed in the course. When a team has generated IP, all public presentations are carefully protected with confidentiality agreements.

3. How may I submit my idea?

Project ideas are due by December 31st, 2011 for consideration for the 2012-2013 school year. Please contact Jeremy Hale via email or phone, 765 494-7871, if you think that you have an idea to offer and are interested in submitting for consideration. You may also fill out an on-line form.

4. What is the timeline for project submission?

  • May - December – alert Weldon that you have an idea to consider
  • December 31st – Deadline to submit Project Idea Form 
  • January & February – negotiate the idea agreement, materials needed, and IP strateg
  • March 15th – selected ideas introduced to BME Juniors for further development into senior design project proposals.
  • May - Final project proposals are selected for team assignments for the following school year

5. May I or someone from my organization mentor a team?

Industry mentors are always welcome even if your organization didn’t submit an idea. Industry mentors are encouraged to work with their team through weekly update meetings. These meetings may occur in person or through a variety of media pathways. Mentors are also invited to join in evaluating their team and other teams at design reviews twice during the semester and once at the final presentations.

6. Are there other ways to participate in the Senior Design course?

  • Volunteer to Lecture to the Students

There are often opportunities to speak with our students. Many alumni and friends of the school have come back to share their expertise on technical skills or their perspective in the field in either our junior-level design course that helps to prepare students for the senior-level course, or in the professional skills portion of the senior design course. Contact Jeremy Hale today.

  • Donate Needed Supplies

Our instructors have compiled a wish-list of needed supplies for projects in Senior Design.  Each team is required to take their design to a working prototype and demonstrate proof-of-concept. The teams are challenged to complete their project on a tight budget so they often are challenged to find donated materials and parts. These prototypes necessitate that a wide range of expendable supplies be renewed each semester.  Please consider what you or your organization may be able to provide to help these student teams successfully meet their goals. Contact Jeremy Hale for the latest and greatest needs.

  • Support with a Cash Donation

For a minimum $5,000 donation of cash, gifts-in-kind, or a combination there of, to the Weldon School designated to Senior Design, your organization will be listed as a financial supporter of the Senior Design course in presentations and publications.  You or your organization will also be recognized on a plaque within the Leslie Geddes Senior Design Lab. Make a gift here.

  • Other ways to support our students

There are many other ways to support our students. Co-0p and Internship experiences are prized for the value they place on a student's educational experiences and professional development. If you are interested in learning more about how to hire our students, please contact Jeremy Hale.

In tough economic times scholarships are very helpful to high-quality students. A gift to support the educational programs will help us maintain educational lab equipment and supplies, forge new international exchange programs and short courses. You may make your gift here for scholarships, educational programs, or to support Weldon innovation.


7.  I have further questions…

Please contact Andrew Brightman if you would like to discuss further any issues surrounding intellectual property or the scope and types of projects most successful for our Senior Design teams.


Mentoring Guidelines

Senior Design is a collaborative environment in which the main goal is to enable students to solve problems.  As a mentor on a senior design project you will be joining a team of faculty and staff that are working with students to hone their design skills.  At all times during this experience you are encouraged to communicate with senior design faculty and staff about the progress of the team with whom you are working, and about general questions regarding the course requirements and assessments. 

The mentor-mentee relationship is unique because it exposes students to the industrial perspective of design that they would not normally have the privilege to experience during senior design.  One of the great learning experiences of senior design is for student to become self-reliant and find optimal resources to achieve solutions.  As a mentor, your role is to be supportive and encourage students to seek optimal solutions.  Students in senior design are developing key problem solving skills that are essential for successful engineers.  If at any time you are unsure on how to provide guidance to a team or are concerned about their progression, please contact a laboratory coordinator so that a supportive plan can be established and implemented unanimously by faculty, staff, and mentors.

The goal of the mentor-mentee relationship is to help students refine communication skills with engineers and scientists in the field.    To reach this goal, the following components have established in order to facilitate the mentor’s engagement in a senior design project.

  • Introduction to the senior design mentor team

A few weeks prior to the start of the semester you will be contacted by an undergraduate laboratory coordinator in regards to the project timeline and student members of the team you will be mentoring.   On the first day of class the undergraduate lab coordinator will communicate with the student design team their responsibilities in the mentor-mentee relationship and provide the mentor’s preferred mode of communication (telephone and, or email).   During the first week of classes, the team will elect a member to handle electronic communications and scheduling with their assigned mentor.  This member will be responsible for the initial contact with the mentor to establish preferred methods and frequencies of communication.  After the first week of class, the lab coordinator will contact the mentor to ensure that communication has been established.

  • Weekly communications

Senior design teams are expected to provide weekly status updates on their project.  The format in which these communications occur is determined by the preferences of the mentor-mentee.  If student teams start to lag in their engagement in these communications, the mentor should contact a laboratory coordinator.

  • Milestone evaluations

During the senior design process, 3 design milestones, or oral presentations and demonstrations, have been established to monitor design progress.  As the mentor you will have the opportunity to evaluate these milestones.  The Weldon School is able to offer teleconferencing to those mentors that are unable to evaluate the progress in person.   Dates of these milestones will be discussed in the first meeting with the laboratory coordinator.  Specific meetings will be established between the senior design team and the mentor to present these milestones.

  • Evaluation

At the conclusion of the semester, each mentor will be asked to complete a short electronic survey on the communication skills of the students and on the overall experience of being a mentor to senior design.

  • Final Presentation

The conclusion of the course includes an oral presentation and demonstration of the teams’ final device.  Mentors are encouraged to attend this presentation in order to celebrate all the hard work the students have put forth during the semester.