Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)


What is a Capstone Project?

Engineering Capstone (formerly known as Innovation Design Clinic) is the Capstone class for our senior engineering majors, working on projects from our industry partners.

Software Capstone (formerly known as Mobile App Challenge) is the Software Engineering class for our computer science students, working on software projects from our industry partners.

A “Capstone” project challenges engineering students to apply their skills and become innovators and entrepreneurs of their knowledge, skills and research applications.

Engineering and Software Capstone provide UC Merced's graduating seniors opportunities to learn and contribute in teams that include practicing engineers and other professionals from partner and sponsoring organizations. 

The School of Engineering has the following disciplines: Mechanical, Civil and Environmental, Material Science, Biological, and Computer Science Engineering. (Electrical and Chemical Engineering programs will be launched soon.)

See more information about:

What is Innovation to Grow?

Innovate to Grow (I2G) is a unique “experiential learning” program that engages external partner organizations with teams of students who design systems to solve complex, real-world problems.

At the end of each semester, the work completed by the student teams culminates in the Innovate to Grow event, which features student-led research and highlights their project outcomes. The bi-annual Innovate to Grow event is a showcase of UC Merced student ingenuity and creativity, and the marquee event for the School of Engineering, drawing hundreds of industry leaders, community members, and entrepreneurs from the Central Valley, Silicon Valley, Southern California and beyond.

How are the Capstone projects proposed?

The organization proposing a Capstone project (Engineering or Software) needs to provide a summary (maximum 1 page, except images if needed) of the project, preferably in this format:

  • Organization
  • Mentor(s) and Point of Contact information
  • Project Title
  • Background
  • Problem
  • Objective

You may:

What type of projects are applicable to Capstone?

For Engineering, projects need to have a problem that requires engineering design based on a set of requirements. A team of students has two semesters (almost a year) to design and then build a working prototype.

For Software, the projects are about engineering a software for a goal and objectives, with a set of minimum and bonus requirements. The scope should be attainable by the team of students in one semester (about four months).

Simple implementation requests are not appropriate Capstone projects.

When is the deadline to submit project proposals?

We solicit and welcome projects at any time: the earlier the submission the better.

The deadline for summaries is December 31 for Spring Capstone and July 31 for Fall Capstone.

Soon after the submission is received, the I2G team will reach the Point of Contact, and interact to discuss the fit for the program, and discuss proposed changes or clarifications, if needed.

We appreciate project concepts and summaries 2 months before the deadline to start discussion and for project counting.

How are the teams and projects selected?

The faculty teaching the respective class compiles, at the beginning of the Semester, a list of summaries for the students to select in a web poll. Based on the results, the Faculty forms teams to optimize:

  • students’ preferences,
  • engineering majors required for the project.

Typically, all projects that are approved by the I2G leadership for Capstone, are assigned to a team.

How many projects can an organization submit?

We currently have no hard limit on projects. It is recommended that the sponsor indicates the ones that are more important or have more priority. The I2G leadership will interact and discuss these projects to rank them for selection in the coming semester, and possibly as a backup, or later use in a future semester.

Is there a time commitment for the sponsoring organization?

The sponsoring organization needs to assign a mentor (and point of contact). At first, a meeting with the team (face-to-face) or a visit to the organization/plant is recommended. Thereafter, the mentor should interact with the team on a weekly or bi-weekly basis: this may happen face-to-face, on the phone, email, or other virtual media. It is very important that questions from the team are answered promptly to ensure team progress.

Is there a financial commitment for the sponsoring organization?

A financial commitment is not mandatory. However, we welcome donations to the UC Merced School of Engineering / I2G program, which enables the School to maintain and grow this program, including all associated support staff, initiatives and events. Please contact us at or visit our Partnership Opportunities page for further information.

The School provides each Team with a basic budget for material and travel. However, we encourage the teams to discuss with their respective clients the purchase of materials necessary for prototyping. If the proposed project exceeds the resources needed to study, design, prototype or test the solution, then we encourage projects with corresponding resource budgets.

What is the timeline?  (notice these are approximate dates - they vay by year)

Engineering Capstone has two cycles of “year long” projects.


Fall + Spring (Teams CAP-1xx):  

  • August 20: Semester starts 

  • August 30: Teams are formed and contact clients

  • October 15: Preliminary Design Review (PDR)

  • December 10: Critical Design Review (CDR)

  • December 20: Winter Break 

  • January 20: resume class - project

  • February 1: Operational Design Review (ODR)

  • May 15: Final Design Review (FDR) at I2G Expo


Spring + Fall (Teams CAP-2xx):  

  • January 20: Semester starts 

  • January 30: Teams are formed and contact clients

  • March 15: Preliminary Design Review (PDR)

  • May 5: Critical Design Review (CDR)

  • May 15: Summer Break 

  • August 20: resume class - project

  • October 10: Operational Design Review (ODR)

  • December 15: Final Design Review (FDR) at I2G Expo


Software Capstone has two cycles of “semester long” projects.


Fall (Teams CSE-3xx):  

  • August 20: Semester starts 

  • August 30: Teams are formed and contact clients

  • … interaction with clients

  • December 15: Final Presentations at I2G Expo


Spring (Teams CSE-3xx):  

  • January 20: Semester starts 

  • January 30: Teams are formed and contact clients

  • … interaction with clients

  • May 15: Final Presentations at I2G Expo


What are roles and expectations of judging at the Innovate to Grow (I2G) event?

  • Judges fill out a questionnaire (judge scorecard) based on the presentation (and poster).  
  • No formal preparation is requested before the event.  
  • An engineering degree is not required for judging in the competition
  • The contribution is based on who can provide valuable feedback based on their experience.

How is Capstone related to Innovate to Grow?

“Capstone” are the classes, respectively Engineering ENG 193 and 194 and Computer Science and Engineering CSE-120 (Software Engineering). 

Innovate to Grow (I2G) is the “experiential learning” program that engages external partner organizations with teams of students who design systems to solve complex, real-world problems, including Capstone classes, and culminates in the I2G event which is held twice a year (around May 15 and December 15).


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