Sponsor a capstone project course

The Department of Computer Science & Engineering invites our industry partners to sponsor a capstone software development project course (CSCI 4950) for undergraduate students in CS&E.

Based on our experiences working with other industry partners, the course will be structured around a software engineering challenge proposed by your organization. This course is designed to provide extensive team software design and development experience for our undergraduate students and to engage the resources of the business community to provide real-world experience for our students. You will have the opportunity to work closely with qualified, self-motivated students prior to their entry in the workforce, as well as access to the intellectual capital of the undergraduates with assistance from the course advisor. As a sponsor, you will obtain unique perspective on both the work style and quality of these students, in addition to their time and efforts toward a software engineering challenge of your choosing.

Benefits for industry sponsor

  • Access to 4-8 of the top CS&E undergraduate students
  • Student awareness of your organization and your technology
  • University of Minnesota CS&E faculty time
  • Fresh perspectives from undergraduate students on a current, former, or potential technology challenge

Benefits for students

  • Real-world software development experience
  • Enhanced access to a local industry partner in the Twin Cities
  • Access to working software engineers
  • Excellent opportunity to enhance current software engineering skills and team development abilities
  • Opportunity to work with a development problem from start to finish, and produce a “complete” deliverable

Course logistics

Student selection

This year-long course is well-advertised to students. Those undergraduates who meet the prerequisites (typically juniors and seniors) and who are in good academic standing are eligible to register and/or will be invited to participate. The instructor for the course will rely on student self-identification, as well as faculty recommendations, to select these exemplary and self-motivated students.

Course content

The course will focus primarily on the real-life application of the students’ existing software engineering skills to a “real-world” software engineering challenge proposed by your company. Course content provided by the instructor will focus on best-practices in software development, including, but not limited to, how to properly document code, user interface considerations, unit testing, system integration and developing user guides.

Course administration

CSCI 4950 is an instructor-supervised, for-credit course (3 credits per semester, 6 credits for the academic year). Based on standard University guidelines, students are expected to spend about 10 hours a week on this course work. Students will receive a grade for the course based on individual and team outcomes as assessed by the instructor, their teammates, and you, as the project sponsor.

Selection of projects

The selection of projects will be contingent on sufficient student enrollment and interest. We anticipate between 6-12 students working on a project for your company. CS&E has seen success with larger groups, and smaller groups are also welcome, but a minimum of three students are required to successfully administer the course.

Sponsor involvement and financial commitment

Sponsors will take an active role in the project, and may elect to appoint individuals to act as “project managers” with the student. Our industry partner will develop the software engineering challenge, work with the instructor to articulate the challenge to the students, and then be available for ongoing feedback and input as the project moves through the course of the year. The sponsor will be encouraged to join the students on-campus during class times, and may elect to sponsor site visits to their places of business as part of the experience.

The financial commitment for this course from the sponsor is a minimum of $20,000 for the 2022-23 school year, which covers instruction and classroom time. A minimum of three industry sponsors are required for this course to be offered.

All students will sign over IP rights to the University. The sponsor has the opportunity to either pay up front for licensing rights ($10-15K additional, depending on license exclusivity and use needs) or to negotiate IP rights within six months after the project has completed.

Sponsorship Levels

Option A - $20,000*

Viewed as Sponsored Research w/ Binding Contract & Deliverables
IP - University of Minnesota Owned
Sponsor can negotiate IP licensing with UMN after course completion 

Option B - $30,000

Viewed as Sponsored Research w/ Binding Contract & Deliverables
IP - UMN Owned
Sponsor has LIMITED rights to patentable IP

Option C - $35,000

Viewed as Sponsored Research w/ Binding Contract and Deliverables
IP - UMN Owned
Sponsor has exclusive rights to all patentable IP, from the beginning of the class

*Default will be Option A, if Option B or C is not negotiated prior to the first day of fall semester.


In order to ensure the success of this course for the academic year, the following timeline will be used:

  1. Written commitment (email acceptable) of intent to be involved between April and July 1.
  2. Problem statement and brief project description before August 1.
  3. Availability for at least one meeting (may take place via telephone) in August to flesh out project requirements to assess personnel and material needs with the faculty liaison.
  4. Fulfillment of at least $20,000 obligation by September 1. 

Students will begin working on the project in September and complete the project the following May.