Welcome to International Capstone Project Exchange, a network of universities and companies that collaborate to give students real-world international experience.
Using the telecommuting concept, teams of capstone students complete projects for industry partners in other countries. The exchange helps universities and companies from around the world connect.
How the Exchange Works
Universities can request to join the International Capstone Project Exchange at www.ndsu.edu/cs/icpe. Once the university is registered, the faculty facilitator can request to be paired with a university in another country that is working with students in the same or a complementary discipline. That university will find a company to sponsor a project for your students, and you will find a company to sponsor a project for their students. The exchanges, however, are not required to run at the same time. Project timelines are based on each university’s academic calendar. Your responsibility to your university partner is to help them connect with a company in your country. Once that occurs, your role in that exchange is complete. Likewise, once you are connected with a company in another country, your university partner will step away. You and the company will work together to shape the experience.
An international capstone exchange helps students round out their education by combining teamwork with application of skills in
an international business setting. It also gives them the opportunity to make make industry contacts and to develop skills that make them more marketable:
- Working as a team to achieve a goal
- Communicating in a professional, team-oriented, international setting
- Understanding the global context of situations
- Being aware of cultural differences in the workplace
- Identifying cross-functional roles and relationships
- Finding innovative solutions to challenges, such as language barriers, time zone issues and technology preferences
Benefits for companies include:
- Get a small project completed by university students at little or no cost
- See upcoming graduates in action for recruiting purposes
- Establish relationships with university contacts
- Give students real-world experience in preparation for the workforce
- Gain experience managing international projects
The exchange is open to any discipline, and any other areas where there may be interest are welcome. Current projects are in computer science, software engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, agricultural and biosystems engineering, biology, environmental management, international marketing, and international journalism.
Various Project Exchange Models
- Default/Standard: 1-1 pairing where each university finds an industry sponsor for a student team in the paired country
- Subcontract: one university subcontracts a part of a larger industry sponsored project to students in the paired country
- Joint Development: teams of students from the two universities work together on the same project (can be harder to manage)
- Exchange of Research Oriented Projects: in some disciplines (e.g. chemistry) industry sponsored projects are not common, so faculty sponsored research oriented projects may be used
- Professors should start communicating (Skype) as soon as they are paired.
- Start with a company that has sponsored student projects in the past. The initial project will go smoother.
- Choose companies that enjoy working with students.
- Communicate that students are expected to put in effort commensurate with credits they are earning.
- Encourage weekly meetings with company mentors using online video communication technology.
- Work out intellectual property agreements in advance.
- Determine deliverables and milestone schedules early in the process.
- Remember the university-company relationship needs to be win-win. Companies are more willing to offer important projects, and to be well prepared, if they know they are guaranteed to work with a team rather than being offered as one of many options.
- United States of America
Characteristics of a Great Capstone Project
- A mentor that likes working with students and that can put in 1-2 hours per week to work with them
- A project that the company really cares about (but not on a critical path) - students work much harder if the company really wants their work
- A project that uses new technologies (cloud, mobile, GIS, robotics, new tools/languages, etc.) that help out a resume but which are also applicable in the domain of the sponsoring company
- If it can have the "cool factor" that is even better (maybe doing something with the internet of things, cyber security, virtual reality, etc. or whatever you can imagine they would consider cool)
- Not too much domain knowledge to learn before being able to do the project
- A project with a core set of features that by itself would make the customer happy but that also has some “add-on” features that offer beyond expectation options for the exceptional team
- Minimal to no interfaces between students’ and company infrastructure (setting up permissions can cause delays)
- Challenges/uses the creativity of students (being an outsider to the company) while at the same time not overcharging students with too vague requirements
Evaluating Individual Team Members
Excel Spreadsheet: Individual Marks Calculation Tool in Capstone Projects
Dealing with Intellectual Property
The Capstone Design Hub lists some example documents - North Dakota State University provides several templates
(Add more examples)
Finding Project Sponsors
(Note: Face-to-face, phone call, Skype etc. is always better than just sending an email)
- Contact people in industry you know personally.
- Contact former students.
- Talk to people at Tech Expo/Career Fair/etc. events.
- Check with the Career Center to see who is looking for your graduates.
- When companies contact your department looking for interns/new grads, get their contact info.
- Check with your own faculty for their contacts.
- Make sure you have a good answer to how yur university/students handle intellectual property.