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Industry & Alumni

Project Guidelines

The Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering accepts Capstone project proposals annually from August through October 30.

What type of project makes a good fit for HCDE’s Capstone?

  • Topics should be broad enough for a small team of students to spend an entire quarter on them (plus a planning quarter), and they should touch on at least two components of the human-centered design process: user research, ideation, prototyping, implementation, and evaluation.
  • Projects can be research-oriented, have a design focus, center on evaluation and testing, or be tailored to the team’s interests.
  • Reflect real-world opportunities or problems relevant to your organization, but not problems that are mission-critical, or time-sensitive.
  • Projects that are a good fit for capstone are often back-burner projects that your organization has not had the time or bandwidth to put a full-time person to work on or projects that need a new, different, creative perspective. 
  • Projects that contain a high volume of confidential or proprietary information are not generally a good fit for capstone. If you wish for students to sign an NDA, please mention this before the project begins.

Proposal Process

Once proposals are submitted, the department will evaluate them for suitability and assign applicable projects to either a Bachelors or Master's program cohort, based on the best fit. These project sponsors will have the opportunity to pitch their project to students in January.

Undergraduates are required to work with a sponsor for their capstone project. We do not require all MS students to work with a sponsor for their capstone experience, so there is no guarantee that students will choose your project. However, all MS students are strongly encouraged to work with a sponsor, and most are eager for that kind of Capstone experience.

Before submitting a proposal, consider the level of commitment you can make as a sponsor. At a minimum, it might be simply proposing the topic, providing some background information to the team, and attending the final poster session to see their results. Alternately, a sponsor might prefer to work closely with the team, meeting with them regularly, and guiding their work throughout the project the entire quarter. A significant part of sponsorship at any level of commitment is providing access to potential users or study participants for the project domain.

Please note, the work produced by the students is their own and cannot be considered work hired by the sponsor. Students must be able to show and discuss their work at the culminating HCDE Capstone Showcase event. Typically, student projects do not require an IRB (institutional review board), however if sponsors do require an IRB, we kindly ask that sponsors apply for an IRB in October/November and contact

The students’ grades will be based upon the work they individually contributed in addition to the final result. 

View past Capstone projects Submit a Capstone Proposal

Questions? Please contact HCDE's Outreach & Events Manager Melissa Ewing at