final project in which students solve problems for businesses, such as production or distribution issues

A capstone is a final project in which teams of students use their combined knowledge to solve real-world problems for businesses, such as issues with production or distribution. Capstones are based on the students’ degrees or majors but can expand beyond those topics.

Most capstone projects are interdisciplinary (related to multiple majors). Likewise, capstone team members can come from different departments within the college. Team members are selected by faculty to ensure the teams are balanced in terms of abilities and experiences.

Sponsoring a capstone can give your business:

  • A solution to a technical problem you’re having with a product or manufacturing process
  • Improved name recognition among the students you’re recruiting to be employees
  • An extra year to evaluate your summer intern
  • Professional development of your employees’ project management skills         

The Purdue Polytechnic Institute (the Polytechnic) is one of 10 academic colleges at Purdue University. The Polytechnic’s curricular programs combine innovative learning methods, real-world experiences and industry partnerships.

A key component of the Polytechnic’s hands-on approach to experiential learning: industry-sponsored capstone projects, which engage students in addressing specific, meaningful challenges faced by today’s businesses.

What is the process for sponsoring a capstone project?

If your company has a problem for the innovative student minds of the Polytechnic, contact Fred Berry at 765-494-8294 or  

How does a technical problem become a Polytechnic capstone project?

A capstone project needs only a sponsor with a business problem or challenge. Once the sponsor outlines the problem and any related parameters, the Polytechnic assigns a faculty member to serve as the capstone coordinator. The capstone coordinator evaluates the problem and works with the sponsor to ensure a properly scoped project that meets the sponsor’s needs while complying with the criteria of a capstone project.

Are there any terms and conditions to a capstone?

Sponsorship of capstone projects is usually considered voluntary support and may be counted as a financial gift to the Polytechnic. Sponsors might have terms to which the University should adhere. In these instances, earlier submissions of project ideas are preferred. Most questions on terms are related to intellectual property (IP).

Is there a fee to sponsor a capstone project?

The School of Engineering Technology has a sponsorship fee to cover the costs of equipment usage, project materials, supervision expenses and lab times. All other Polytechnic departments do not charge a fee unless there are special tools, such as software, that are required to complete the capstone.

Who owns the outcome of a capstone project?

According to Purdue policy, students own what they create in a classroom setting; however, most capstone projects do not generate any protectable intellectual property. If a project results in IP, the sponsor can negotiate with the students directly during the course of the project or at its conclusion.

If a sponsor expects the project to generate IP, the sponsor can identify this at the outset of the project and secure those rights by having students waive their rights to ownership. However, doing so could impact which students will work on the project.


Confidential information can be shared with the Purdue University faculty member running the capstone project. He/She will not share this confidential information with the students, and instead will guide the students away from solutions that would disregard or conflict with any shared confidential information. If the students need to receive any confidential data, the project will need to undergo an export control review by the University. If the project developments are to be considered confidential, it will also need to undergo an export control review. These projects can cost more depending on the requirements outlined by the University to secure the project from others. It will also limit the team based on citizenship to ensure adherence to federal law.