Industry Sponsored Research Projects

Want to Sponsor a Senior Project?

A group of Engineering students standing around a giant Nike swish logo

Over the course of their senior year, students develop a senior project, often with an industry sponsor. They spend the first two quarters in the proposal phase of the project, with the implementation phase beginning in spring quarter. Industry partners are just as invested as the student when it comes to seeing the project to success. Each student has an industrial sponsor to whom they communicate with to ensure they meet the 'customer's needs'. Industrial sponsors are invited to the oral presentations during the second quarter of the students' projects where they here a summary of the entire project, focusing more on the results and analysis of the implementation phase. They are then encouraged to provide feedback to the student and faculty advisor to ensure success with the implementation phase. It is crucial that we offer challenging and suitable projects to our students to give them more experience in project management, technical writing, synthesizing different concepts from their education, working as a team and individually, and communication with suppliers and customers. These industry sponsored projects contribute to the hands-on engineering education offered at Western.

Manufacturing Engineering

During their senior year, Manufacturing Engineering students design and implement a project of their choosing. Students present their projects to their peers, faculty, and project sponsors at the end of spring quarter. Projects are often in collaboration with companies in industry. A successful Engineering program combines what is learned in the classroom and experienced in the lab with real-world manufacturing and design problems.

It is essential to sponsor projects that focus on one or more of the four pillars of manufacturing engineering body of knowledge defined by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).  These pillars are materials and manufacturing processes, product tooling and assembly engineering, manufacturing systems and operations, and manufacturing competitiveness. It is crucial that we continue to offer challenging and suitable projects to our seniors in order to provide them with the practical experience in manufacturing engineering in addition to valuable experience in project management, technical writing, synthesizing many different concepts from their education, working on a team and individually, and communicating with suppliers and customers.

 

a MFGE faculty member instructing her class
A group of PCE students  and faculty smiling

Plastics and Composites Engineering

Similar to the Manufacturing program, students within the Plastics & Composites program are responsible for completing a senior project upon graduation. Students are presented with numerous projects to choose from (that vary depending on the projects offered by industry).  The majority of the PCE projects are: process design, process investigation, product design, machine design, software applications, material investigation, or tool design.  Each project has a specific problem that needs to be solved and must contain a significant design component.  Students will then define the problem, develop specifications, investigate and present multiple solutions, select the best solution and develop an implementation plan including timeline and budget. During this time, all projects start in the Fall and are implemented in the Spring. 

Benefits to sponsors

Opportunity to leverage in house engineering talent to solve a given design problem

Potential for new innovative and creative concepts and ideas to solve real problems unencumbered by company tradition or status quo

Multi-person engineering design team and talent at a minimum cost

Interdisciplinary options with other Engineering & Design students

Opportunity to evaluate design team member(s) as potential future employees and assess their abilities and relative fit for your company

Benefits to students

Real world application of their academic studies

The opportunity to work in the industries of personal interest

Opportunity to cite specific design accomplishments as part of a portfolio and resume

Professional and technical feedback on their ideas

Firsthand real world exposure to business practices and communications

Benefits to the Department:

Exposure to industry ensures the Manufacturing and Plastics programs stay relevant to current workforce needs

Project sponsorship ensure labs and curriculum stay current and relevant to industry needs

An image of a senior project group standing in front of a tractor for their project
a MFGE student working with a robot

How to Get Involved

Students?

Students are encouraged to contact your undergraduate advisor or the department chair to learn about internship and research opportunities. You may also contact faculty who are currently involved in projects at the TDC for guidance.

Industry?

There are two approaches depending on the scope of the project:

  1. R&D partnerships and other long-term projects (typically involving grant funding) are administered through WWU's Office of Research and Sponsored Projects.
  2. Projects of limited scope and duration are handled directly by the TDC.

We welcome you to contact us for any of the following:

  • Tours
  • Requesting more information about the TDC
  • Providing more information about potential projects

Contact:

Derek Yip-Hoi
Manufacturing Engineering Program Director
yiphoid@wwu.edu
360 650 7236

Contact:

Nicole Hoekstra 
Plastics & Composites Engineering Professor
hoekstra@wwu.edu
360 650 7237