4 MAE students holding project

Senior Design: Experience MAE


Emma Gleysteen describes her team’s experience working on their senior project with the National Air & Space Museum.


What do MAE students take from their senior design experience? In short, they develop the knowledge and skills for success in their first jobs following graduation, and they build relationships that can last a lifetime. 

5 MAE students around student build plane model


4 students in machine shop


4 students standing next to their project


What is senior design?

Senior design is a two-semester sequence during which students combine authentic experience with faculty instruction to design, build, test, and verify a product for a real client. Students work in teams of three to six people and they develop a deeper understanding of engineering and apply what they have learned. Through this process they develop knowledge and skills—such as teamwork, communication and learning how to learn—which help prepare them to succeed at their first job after graduation. 

Each project poses unique challenges that require the combined efforts of the team. The effort fosters a bond as each member discovers his/her unique strengths to contribute optimally to the success of the project. Faculty mentors provide guidance and technical support while the course instructor teaches tried-and-true engineering design techniques. Project sponsors regularly engage with the team to ensure that the end result satisfies the project requirements. As a result of all of this, students develop relationships with their teammates, faculty, and sponsors that are much deeper than those formed in a traditional class.