Key Information for Industry Sponsors

Key Information for Industry Sponsors


Sponsoring a senior design project can enable you to:

  • Explore the application of new technologies on back burner projects with low-cost and low-risk.
  • Take a close look at creative and energetic students who may make great employees for your company.
  • Draw from faculty expertise in a variety of disciplines and take advantage of the resources and libraries of a world-class research university.
  • Provide an enriching opportunity for students to use their valuable education in an industrial situation.

Project Scope and Needs

  • Sponsors need to submit a short project proposal which includes a summary of the project background, project objectives, scope of the project, deliverables, and expectations of the team. 
  • Typically, teams of two to four senior students are assigned to each project.
  • A faculty adviser is assigned to each project and meets regularly with students.
  • Sponsors need to assign an industry adviser who will communicate regularly with and provide technical support to the student team.
  • Projects should be scoped for approximately 300 to 600 hours depending on team size.

Typical Timeline

  • Projects are scheduled according to academic semesters and vary dependent on the major that the student is enrolled in. All programs, except for plastics engineering technology, align their projects with the academic year starting in September and finishing in April.
  • Industry sponsors should submit their Senior Design proposals by August 15 each year.
  • Senior project proposals will be assigned to student teams no later than October 15 for all disciplines except for the PLET projects.
  • Fall semester activities — project selected, team formed, sponsor facility tour, engineering requirements established, preliminary design initiated, initial design review conducted.
  • Spring semester activities — detailed design and design reviews, testing and verification conducted, project completion, project presentation.
  • Plastics Engineering Technology
    • The PLET program normally conducts their projects over three semesters beginning in January with submittal of project proposals occurring at the end of November.
    • The PLET senior design project proposals should be submitted by December 10 of each year.
    • The PLET senior design proposal selection will occur no later than January 15.

Financial Support

  • A donation of $1,500 is requested for each project. This gift to the University directly benefits our students by subsidizing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam fees, student travel to conferences, internal lab use, software use, technician time, and other senior design expenses. Two hundred and fifty dollars ($250) of this gift will be available to the students to purchase supplies directly needed for the project. Beyond $250, each sponsoring entity will be invoiced for any additional supplies that are needed.
  • If required, the students must have reasonable access to specialized equipment on the company's premises. If special equipment or parts need to be purchased for the project, it is the responsibility of the sponsor to do so.

Proprietary Information and Confidentiality

NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT (NDA), also known as a confidentiality agreement (CA), confidential disclosure agreement (CDA), proprietary information agreement (PIA), or secrecy agreement, is a legal contract between at least two parties that outlines confidential material, knowledge, or information that the parties wish to share with one another for certain purposes, but wish to restrict access to or by third parties. It is a contract through which the parties agree not to disclose information covered by the agreement. 

  • Per the Penn State NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT for Senior Projects: “Penn State employees and Student Participants receiving any Confidential Information shall not make any presentation or otherwise prepare any materials, reports, or other documents which contain Confidential Information for their personal, non-academic use without the express written consent of the Sponsor. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Student Participants are permitted to make periodic class presentations to other students and external reviewers for purposes of receiving progress feedback, so long as no identifiable Confidential Information is contained in said presentation.”
  • Our students are required to present their projects at the Fasenmyer Conference, which is open to the public. 
  • Per the stated Non-Disclosure Agreement statement above, our students are not allowed to make presentations or prepare reports for “their personal, non-academic use.” However, each student is required to present, as an academic requirement, at the Fasenmyer Conference. The student team will remove direct references to any confidential information that was provided by the sponsor, but are not required to remove information that the students themselves discovered/researched/created.
  • Since the Fasenmyer Conference is open to the public, the sponsor should consider carefully before submitting a project requiring an NDA since the conference will not have “closed door” presentations and is open to any individuals wishing to view.
  • FEE $500: The paperwork and time required to complete an NDA requires the college to charge a $500 fee per company/per project year. This fee, along with the required NDA information, will require settlement prior to the start of the project.
  • Prior to the start of any project, the sponsor shall indicate to the University any nondisclosure issues.

TRADE SECRET is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, or compilation of information which is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable, by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors or customers. Senior design projects that require the students be informed of trade secrets will not be accepted.


  • Intellectual property generated from student projects may be assigned to the sponsor company. The student and sponsor must sign a Special Intellectual Property Agreement assigning IP rights to the sponsor at the start of the project.
  • Students are not required to sign the IP agreement and, if they request, are assigned to other projects where an IP agreement is not required.
  • No fee is charged to process this form.

Presentation of Results

  • All student teams present the results of their work publicly at the Richard J. Fasenmyer Engineering Design Conference. Given that the Richard J. Fasenmyer Engineering Design Conference is open to the public, the student team will strive to keep any confidential information, as described above, from the presentation. Sponsors may request a pre-review of the presentation material prior to the conference.

If you are interested in sponsoring a project, complete the Project Proposal Form. If you have questions about sponsoring a project, please contact Michael Lobaugh, Senior Project Coordinator, at or (814) 898-6181.