• 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.

Characteristics of a Great 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

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.

North Dakota State University students working for Ericsson, Linkoping, Sweden (via Linkoping University)

Ericsson is a global leader in delivering Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions. In fact, forty percent of the world’s mobile traffic is carried over Ericsson networks. This semester’s project for Ericsson was to develop a mobile application that can send an android ping to a database. Once that ping is in the server, the web interface that we created will communicate with the web server we setup to display real-time data circles that entail cellular network information.