Design Lab - Partnerships

Benefits of Sponsorship

The Design Lab continually seeks projects that accomplish two goals:

  • To engage engineering students in open-ended, technically challenging, real-world design projects that are important to sponsors and partners.
  • To provide a valuable return on investment in ideas, innovations, and potential employees to our sponsors and partners.

There are many benefits to becoming a Design Lab project sponsor. Benefits include:

  • Solving a complex technically challenging problem that is important to you.
  • Evaluating potentially high risk ideas in a safe environment.
  • Stimulating new and creative thinking on the part of people in your organization.
  • Working with the best engineering students that the world has to offer.
  • Meeting and getting acquainted with potential future employees.
  • Owning the intellectual property associated with your project so you can bring it to market and receive a return on your investment.
  • Developing long term relationships with faculty that could potentially lead to new cutting edge technology.
  • Beyond the immediate project results sponsors receive the benefits of acknowledged support for engineering education and for investing in the young people who represent our future.

To become a sponsor, or for more information, contact:

Valerie Masterson
Administrative Specialist

Our Process

1. Sponsors identify important problems.

The process usually begins when a prospective sponsor approaches the Design Lab to explore opportunities for collaboration. These companies often identify multiple potential projects and write proposal abstracts that describe objectives, background, design constraints, and expected results. The Design Lab works closely with sponsor representatives in a thorough initial evaluation to gauge a project's suitability. Among the criteria are the importance of the project to the sponsor, the range of disciplines required, the technical complexity and challenge level, and the availability of qualified students and faculty members to collaborate on the project.

2. We work out the details.

After the initial evaluation has identified promising projects, Design Lab faculty and staff work with sponsors to refine the problem definition, identify the students and resources needed, and finalize the details. Projects are funded by a $40,000 grant provided by the sponsor. Sponsors also assign project mentors to work directly with the students for the duration of the project.

Meanwhile, the Design Lab begins assembling the team. Students submit an introductory memo and resume to express interest in a Design Lab project. After reviewing project requirements, the Design Lab matches students with projects, and the teams are ready to go.

3. The project launches.

Projects typically last one academic year and can start in either the Fall or Spring semester. We organize the project into 15-week modules (the length of one semester).

The student team explores the problem's background, performs competitive benchmarks, and brainstorms alternative design solutions, using Design Lab computer-aided engineering resources to conceptualize design solutions. As the concept is finalized, teams apply engineering analysis, iterate on design solutions, and ultimately shift emphasis toward implementation. Then they build and test prototype systems as needed.

Though the student teams are largely self-directed, taking ownership and using their initiative to drive solutions, they stay in close contact with their corporate mentors, who help them work through each project stage. Teams draw upon the technical resources within the sponsoring organization as appropriate. Most projects are completed within two semesters, or one academic year.

Each semester culminates in a final oral presentation, a project demonstration, and a written technical report that is delivered to the sponsor. Teams are required to show proof of concept in the form of a physical model, working prototype, or testable artifact.

As a result of this process, students get a meaningful real-world experience that builds confidence. Sponsors gain an innovative and practical solution to a problem that is important to them. Truly, then, the Design Lab provides a win-win experience for all.


Robert Swanson and Cynthia Shevlin The numerous donors who helped to create the Design Lab Sponsors and Partners Faculty, Staff and Students


Albany Guardian Society Albany International Balance Engineering Barclays Capital Boeing Comfortex Corning DRS Technology Elite Hockey Fleetcross Holdings General Dynamics GE Appliances GE Energy GE Healthcare Gerber Technology General Motors Harris Communications HJM Precision

IBM Lockheed Martin Morgan Stanley Momentive Monotype Imaging MicroAire National Science Foundation NCIIA Northrop Grumman NY Independent Systems Operators Ranawat Foundation SAIC Schick Energizer St. Peter's Hospital United Technologies Robert Vanderhye Waters Corporation WMS