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How to Participate

Summary of the Opportunity

  • You are invited to participate in the ME170 Stanford ME capstone course, designed to be the culmination of the Stanford BS ME degree.  Partner with the Stanford ME department, where for 6 months, 4-person project team(s) made of up Senior-year Mechanical Engineering undergraduates work on a problem that you provide in the general theme of clean energy, transportation, and/or health while engaging with community.
  • Give Stanford ME undergraduate students an awareness and appreciation for how they can make a difference in the world, in particular in the areas of clean energy, transportation, and health
  • You will have the opportunity to interact with and recruit some of the most talented and creative undergraduates.  


Your Participation

  • Promotes engineering research and development in an area of interest for you and your organization.  Many student teams can engage in different aspects of a common problem.
  • Provides your organization with additional opportunities and exposure to Stanford faculty and undergraduate students, establishing a relationship with Stanford University.
  • Represents an excellent recruiting opportunity.  The students are in their senior year, with many in the job market at the conclusion of the year.  Your organization's involvement will give you the chance to interact closely with these students to enrich their educational experience and to introduce them to you work as leading-edge partners.  Provide job and internship opportunities to the students
  • Course instruction is by Capstone Course Director/Lecturer Jeff Wood, with 25 years industry experience leading organizations in product development and manufacturing, and Shoshanah Cohen with 20+ years industry experience in supply chain and consulting organizations, with a growing list of guest speakers.  The students receive exellent guidance regarding their projects.
  • Connects you to end-of-quarter presentations to see all projects conducted in the course
  • Provides access to final reports written by the teams for projects you provide


Project Successes

In the first year of the course, 2017-2018, five projects were undertaken: 3 provided by Stanford Professor John Dabiri's  Dabiri Labs in the area of vertical axis wind turbines, and 2 provided by the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy in the area of agricultural solutions with the goal of improving the socioeconomic status of farmers in India.  Students on these projects developed significant results

  • Two projects enabling control of Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs) at high wind speeds, to improve reliability.
    • The project team that developed avian-inspired "feathers" for turbines has submitted their design for a provisional patent.  This groundbreaking body of work has shown that the problem of vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs) spinning out of control can be mitigated by the addition of passive "feathers" to the blade.  Further research is underway to further understand this phenomenon, under the supervision of Professor John Dabiri.  
    • The "Wind-Wind" project team developed an active braking solution utilizing magnetorheological fluid within an electromagnetic field.  By adjusting current through the electromagnet the team was able to provide sufficient braking torque which could effectively enable vertical axis wind turbines to survive at wind speeds up to 15 m/s with greatly reduced power requirements in the electromagnet. 
  • One project developed the use of fabric as the primary aerodynamic material for a Vertical Axis Wind Turbine blade; this solution builds on previous research conducted in the Dabiri labs, and can enable access to lower cost energy in remote villages of Alaska than current VAWTs as well as the currently-used diesel generators.  Not only would this result in lower-cost energy to these remote villages, it would also reduce CO2 emissions in the state with the third-highest CO2 emissions per capita in the country.
  • Two projects developing solutions for freshly-harvested produce in India; a drying solution for chilies that reduces drying time from 14 days to 3 days, and a cooling solution enabling guavas to be stored up to 14 days before delivery to market without spoilage.  These solutions utilize low-cost and low-energy technology available to farmers in India.  Both of these projects continue after the course in collaboration with the Precourt Institute for Energy, the Desphande Foundation and the Reliance Foundation.  First deployment in India targeted for Jan 2019.
  • 5 students traveled to India to meet the local culture and community, and 4 students traveled to Southern California for full-scale turbine testing. 


Support Levels

Returning to Autumn and Winter quarters for Academic year 2021-2022 and beyond the course will run from September to March, with enrollment expected to be 55-60 students students, in approximately 12-15 project teams.

Contribution Projects
Liaison - $30,000

Submit 1 project proposal, resulting in 1-3 project teams

Liaisons are welcome to increase their funding support and provide additional projects, resulting in additional project teams. 

Gold Liaison - $100,000 Provide up to 4 proposals, with up to 8 project teams working on projects you provide
Platinum Liaison - $175,000

Provide up to 8 project proposals.

Entire class (estimated 55 students) working on projects you provide



  • Projects are done by students as a learning experience, contracts for course projects are not allowed. Projects should enable students to explore a problem that the partner is interested in researching, but is not on any critical path or an expected part of any partner deliverable.  Students are not working “for hire”.
  • At the beginning of the term, the projects will be presented to students and they will nominate the projects on which they want to work.  Liaisons providing projects will need to be present at the first day of class to pitch the projects to the students
  • This is a 4-unit course, meaning that students are each expected to spend ~12 hours/week on the class, so students have approximately 30-35% time dedicated to their project. Students will generally be placed into teams of 4 for each project
  • In accordance with university policy, students must be able to openly present their work to classmates, instructors, guests, etc
  • Any intellectual property or data resulting from these projects will be retained by Stanford and/or the students. 
  • It is the intent of the Faculty member(s) responsible for ME170 that all class results will be presented in an open public forum at the conclusion of the course.  
  • Teaching staff are happy to meet with the partner team to flush out details of project proposals.  To get the conversation started, Liaisons are requested to complete a project brief using the template provided below.  
  • The success of a project in ME170 depends greatly on the existence of an effective company liaison.  It is important that the liaison is willing and able to meet with the student team regularly, serves as the point-of-contact for the team, and has project background information to assist in developing design requirements and concepts.  Liaisons should plan on a face-to-face meeting with the student team during the initial stages of the project in the first few weeks of the first quarter, and at least two other meetings over the course of each quarter.  These can be in person or video/teleconference meetings.   Liaison is also requested to attend course design reviews held in the middle and end of each quarter. 



Interested in Bringing Projects to the Class?

We are looking for projects for the academic year of 2021-2022; in the theme areas of clean energy, transportation, sustainability and/or health all while engaging with community

If you are interested in providing a future project, please reach out to Jeff Wood at to get the conversation started! To define a project, please complete the project brief provided below.

We are looking for initial project briefs by the end of July 2021, and finalizing briefs and arrangements by the end of August.

Project Brief Form