Supporting Design Throughout
All Undergrad Years
The Craig M. Berge Engineering Design Program prepares students to meet the world’s engineering challenges, and is one big reason recruiters seek to hire the college’s students and graduates.
From first-year competitions and maker fests to Interdisciplinary Capstone senior projects, this four-year program ties design, manufacturing and commercialization to all levels of the undergraduate curriculum. It immerses students in hands-on design, community projects and business instruction, major-specific design courses, and capstone and entrepreneurship projects.
Design Day Videos: Program Benefits Success Stories
"The design program is an amazing way for students to get a dress rehearsal for the real world. While their college coursework provides them with the knowledge they’ll need one day, nothing quite prepares students for the rigors of professional engineering like this program." -college mentor and former sponsor advisor Huy Le
“The college is preparing students to solve some of the world’s greatest engineering challenges – sustainable energy, cybersecurity, improved health care, and access to food and clean water, for example. The Craig M. Berge Engineering Design Program integrates design into all four years of the undergraduate curriculum, providing real-world experiences to help ensure their success.”
— David Hahn, Craig M. Berge Dean, College of Engineering
Far-Reaching Benefits of Projects
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Success Stories: Opening Doors and Changing Lives
Engineering students wrap up their time in the Craig M. Berge Design Program by completing Interdisciplinary Capstone projects during their senior year. For senior design teams, supervised and mentored by engineering professionals, it’s a chance to experience the design process firsthand and make job connections. For industry partners, the projects create opportunities to get to know and work with talented students – some of whom go on to become employees.
Perseverance and Recovery
Just a week before Craig M. Berge Design Day 2022, BME student Kelsi Petrillo and her team had to scrap months’ worth of measurements when they learned a machine they’d been using wasn’t working properly. They pulled together and took home the Steve Larimore Award for Perseverance and Recovery. “It took a lot of effort, but mostly teamwork and all of us being dedicated to getting it done.”
Started From the Bottom
Alex St Peter and his team built a Blinding Resonant Incapacitating Throwable Emitter (BRITE) for their capstone project. They created dozens of prototyped parts before settling on a design that took home the Craig M. Berge Dean’s Award for Most Outstanding Project. “Did we fail? Totally. But we failed really early, so we were able to correct that.”
Learning by Doing
A 2022 design team created a low-cost drone tracker that uses visible light to detect drones, which are often too small to show up on radar. "We learned a lot of stuff that we weren't taught in classes, because they can't teach it in classes, because you have to learn through experience," said electrical and computer engineering team member Brad Zimmermann.
Putting New Skills to Use
Avalon McLeod and her team won the $1,500 II-VI Aerospace & Defense Award for Best Optical Systems Design for their hyperspectral camera. In summer 2022, she worked on another hyperspectral camera at NASA’s Jet Propulsion laboratory. “They were definitely interested in me because of this project, including the experience I gained with nanofabrication.”
Mechanical engineering student and avid golfer Steven Perry worked with his team on a PING-sponsored project to create a robotic pendulum for testing putter performance. “Maybe a pro or even I would buy the new developed putter, and I can say, ‘Yeah, I built the thing that tested this,’” he said. “It’s an awesome feeling.”
Student Turned Sponsor
Jason Licamele, a discovery and optimization lead at Bayer Crop Science, said about 60% of employees at Bayer’s Marana offices are UA graduates. “We look at the University of Arizona as a place for recruiting talent,” said the 2009 biosystems engineering PhD graduate.
Paul Thompson, director of engineering at Meggitt Tucson, was both a judge and a sponsor for Design Day 2022. “I was extremely impressed with the students’ professionalism and presentation skills,” he said. “I think the university program is really training these students well for industry.”
Software Factory Builds Student Skills
Director of Software Engineering at the UA Sharon ONeal sponsored a software factory project, a cloud-based development platform that she envisions being integrated into the engineering curriculum and capstone experience. ““The companies I’ve talked to are very excited about this revolutionary way of preparing our students for their future careers.”
Looking at the Future
Huy Le is a 2015 electrical and computer engineering alum and now a project sponsor. He loves the buzz in the air at Craig M. Berge Design Day, the college’s biggest event of the year. “You’re looking at the future here – our future leaders and industry partners – and seeing all their hard work pay off in the moment,” he said.
After the Craig M. Berge Dean’s fund sponsored two projects for the Reid Park Zoo in 2021, the zoo sponsored two more animal enrichment projects in 2022. “In the zoo field, we have all these crazy ideas, but we don’t have the skills to do a lot of these things,” said Stephanie Norton, animal welfare specialist and team sponsor advisor. “This really helps us do some of those dream projects.”
Resource for Startups
The University of Arizona Center for Innovation is a campus startup incubator that often refers fledgling companies to the Interdisciplinary Capstone program. “This ready-made program provides the opportunity for startups to plug in, and the company gets the benefit of this interdisciplinary team. For us, it’s a no-brainer to recommend the program. It’s great synergy,” said UACI director Anita Bell.
Craig M. Berge Design Day: Where It All Comes Together
Each spring, hundreds of engineering students proudly present the results of their yearlong, sponsored Interdisciplinary Capstone Projects. The work presented at Design Day often results in cash prizes, patents, commercialization and job offers.
Check out students’ 2022 video presentations – featuring projects ranging from a snack dispenser for zoo animals to an improved flashbang grenade.
Read an event recap and see a full list of the day’s winners, who took home more than $46,000 in sponsored prizes.
Read the digital version of the 2022 Design Day booklet.
Read the digital version of the 2022 Design Day Booklet.
From Awe-Inspiring Creations to Dream Jobs
“The value in hiring students from senior design teams is incalculable. You’re getting a student that's had a yearlong exposure to life in a professional engineering environment & is ready to hit the ground running.”college mentor and former sponsor advisor Huy Le
“It’s a win-win deal for the students and the company. You look at the number of companies that are involved, and obviously, we’re not the only guys that think that.”George Weise, founder, Nature’s Cooling Solutions
“My career goals are bioastronautics, which is basically space systems engineering – looking at how we can live in space. It’s cool working on something that might have an impact in the future.”2022 mechanical engineering major Grace Halferty
“Pulling in different, fresh perspectives from students has been really valuable for us.”sponsor advisor Tom Trueblood, PING Golf Analysis and Testing Manager