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School of Engineering

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

If you have any questions which are not answered by the below, please direct them here.

What is a Capstone Project?

Engineering Capstone (also known as Innovation Design Clinic) is the Capstone class for our senior engineering majors, working on projects from our industry partners. Software Capstone (formerly known as Mobile App Challenge) is the Software Engineering class for our computer science students, working on software projects from our industry partners. A “Capstone” project challenges engineering students to apply their skills and become innovators and entrepreneurs of their knowledge, skills and research applications.

Engineering and Software Capstone provide UC Merced's graduating seniors opportunities to learn and contribute in teams that include practicing engineers and other professionals from partner and sponsoring organizations.  The School of Engineering has the following five disciplines:  Mechanical, Civil and Environmental, Material and Chemical, Biological, and Computer Science Engineering.

How are the Capstone projects proposed?

The organization proposing a Capstone project needs to provide a summary (maximum 1 page, except images if needed) of the project, preferably in this format:

  • Organization
  • Mentor(s) and Point of Contact information
  • Project Title
  • Background
  • Problem
  • Objective

You may:

What type of projects are applicable to IDC - Capstone?

For Engineering, projects need to have a problem and design component, based on a set of requirements.

For Software, the projects are about engineering a software solution.

The scope should be attainable by the team of students in a Semester (about four months).

Simple implementation requests are not appropriate Capstone projects.

When is the deadline to submit project summaries for IDC - Capstone?

We solicit and welcome projects at any time. The hard deadline for summaries is December 31 for Spring Capstone and July 31 for Fall Capstone.   


  • We can interact to refine the projects after the first submission
  • We appreciate summaries a few weeks earlier than the deadline, even if in rough form

How are the teams and projects selected?

The faculty advisor compiles, at the beginning of the Semester, a list of summaries for the students to select in a web poll.  Based on the results, the Faculty Advisor forms teams to optimize the student's preferences, the engineering majors required for the project and the priority of the proposed projects.

How many projects can an organization submit?

We currently have no hard limit on projects:  the project will be selected by students, so it is recommended that the sponsor indicates the ones that are more important or have more priority.  Others can be resubmitted in future Semesters.

Is there a time commitment for the sponsoring organization?

The sponsoring organization needs to assign a mentor (and point of contact).   At first, a face to face meeting with the team, or a visit to the organization/plant is recommended.  Thereafter, the mentor should interact with the team on a weekly or bi-weekly basis:  this may happen on the phone, email, or other virtual media.  It is very important that questions from the team are answered promptly to ensure team progress.

Is there a financial commitment for the sponsoring organization?

A financial commitment is not mandatory.  However, we welcome donations to the  UC Merced School of Engineering IDC program, which enables the School to support this program, including all associated initiatives and events. Please contact us at or visit our Partnership Opportunities page for further information.

The School provides each Team with a basic budget for material and travel. However, if the proposed project far exceeds the resources needed to study, design, prototype or test the solution, then we encourage you to propose projects with corresponding resource budgets.

What is the timeline?

January March April mid-May
August October November mid-December

Project Start

Preliminary Design Review (PDR)

Critical Design Review (CDR)

Final Design Review (FDR)

A meeting or visit with the Sponsor at the beginning of the semester.

Capstone teams conduct the first presentation held about five weeks into the semester, during which mentor/sponsor is invited and encouraged to attend to provide valuable feedback.

Capstone teams conduct the second presentation held about ten weeks into the semester, during which mentor/sponsor is invited and encouraged to attend to provide valuable feedback.

Capstone teams conduct final presentations held during Finals Week and as a part of the culminating Innovate to Grow competition.  This event is an opportunity to see all the teams and peruse the showcase.  Mentor/sponsors are invited to attend to provide valuable feedback and Judges are assigned for the competitive component.

What are roles and expectations of judging at the Final Design Review?

  • Judges fill out a questionnaire (judge scorecard) based on the presentation (and poster).  
  • No formal preparation is requested before the event.  
  • An engineering degree is not required for judging in the competition
  • The contribution is based on who can provide valuable feedback based on their experience.

How is Capstone related to Innovate to Grow?

Innovate to Grow is the event in which we showcase our student’s engineering design talent from the Capstone projects.  The Final Design Review is embedded in the event program, which culminates in a multi-faceted competition that also encompasses the School of Engineering's other signature programs, Engineering Service Learning and the Software Engineering Capstone.

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