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The MSE Senior Capstone Design Project Experience

About Capstones

All Capstone design courses in the College of Engineering are senior-level team project courses that allow you to solve a substantial problem with knowledge gained from the many different areas that you have studied during your time at the UW. 

To complete the MSE capstone requirement, all MSE students must complete the two-quarter course series, Design in Materials Engineering I and II during Winter and Spring quarter of Senior year (MSE 491 and MSE 492). The course series content consists of (1) specific new content that is taught, such as in engineering ethics, (2) presentations, and (3) project time for your team. 

Capstone Projects Open to MSE Students

Up until the 2020-2021 school year, MSE’s capstone design project was out of sync with the rest of the College departments, but now that we offer capstone in Winter and Spring quarters like the rest of the College, other options than just #1 exist. 

For options #2 and #3, if the other department’s capstone project that you join is going to award more than the 5 total credits of MSE 491 and MSE 492, you will be able to earn the additional credit. See #3 below for an example of how this will work.

Capstone projects from Industry brought to MSE students in MSE 491

Enough capstone projects for all MSE senior students are brought to the first quarter design course from industry partnerships facilitated by the College of Engineering’s Industry Capstone Program and through departmental efforts. All available projects will be featured in MSE 491, and a matching process of students to projects is facilitated by the Capstone course professor. 

Interdisciplinary capstone projects from Industry brought to other College of Engineering departments that need MSE students

Some projects brought to campus by the College’s Industry Capstone Program are interdisciplinary projects. That is, the company in question brings a project to the College that requires students from multiple different engineering disciplines to complete.

Once interdisciplinary capstone projects reach the student recruiting stage, the MSE undergraduate advisor will be sent the necessary project details, and the advisor will send out notice to MSE students. Interdisciplinary projects will have some kind of application process required if you want to join the project, and selection will be competitive.

Other capstone projects based outside of MSE

Engineering Innovation In Health

There are other options available for capstone projects.  One popular one is the Engineering Innovation in Health program. The EIH program starts out in Fall quarter with the completion of the ME 414 course (3 credits), and then if you elect to continue you will do the project in Winter and Spring quarters. At the end of the year you will have earned technical elective credits for ME 414, credit for MSE 491 and MSE 492, plus 1 additional technical elective credit because the EIH Winter and Spring capstone course work is worth 6 credits. EIH holds information sessions about their program every year in Spring quarter for Junior students considering this option.

Other Possibilities

Other options exist for capstones outside of MSE but have yet to be explored by MSE students since MSE capstone policies changed (2020-2021 year). One possibility, for those MSE students involved in these teams already, is doing a project associated with Formula Motorsports or EcoCar, competition-based teams out of the Mechanical Engineering department, as ME has a mechanism to support capstone projects  in these groups. 

Identifying viable projects in other departments involved ensuring that students in the department in question are allowed to do capstone projects with the team in question, and that those projects are advised by a faculty member in the department. Please reach out to the MSE undergraduate advisor if you are looking to do this kind of project for more information.

Course Logistics

All MSE students register for MSE 491 and MSE 492 Winter and Spring quarters regardless of where you are doing your project. MSE 491 and MSE 492 are both scheduled for 4 meeting hours per week. No MSE student attends all 4 course hours per week. 

  • Students pursuing capstone option 1 will attend class when content is being taught, or during the times your team is working in class or reporting out on your progress with the capstone professor.
  • Students pursuing capstone option 2 or 3 will attend class when content is being taught.  You will also be required to report out on your project’s progress with the capstone professor.

Students pursuing capstone project options 2 or 3 will NOT register for capstone credits in the other Engineering department (you cannot get credit twice for the same content); you will only register for credit in MSE 491 and 492. Your faculty member in your capstone project will work with the MSE capstone professor to issue you a grade for your capstone work. If students in the other capstone course are earning more than the 5 credits of 491 and 492, you can receive credit for the difference if it is needed. Faculty can manually add you to the other Capstone course’s Canvas site so your ability to participate in that work isn’t affected in any way.