SOE Engineer Magazine_Spring 2021



While every engineering program delivers a capstone experience, the Senior Design Clinic at St. Thomas School of Engineering is building momentum around a unique national model that company sponsors are embracing.

In the clinic, students from all engineering majors enroll in the same two-semester course and are assigned to interdisciplinary teams to match skills with the expected project needs.With the assignment of all intellectual property to the sponsor, companies are not limited in bringing authentic, market-driven problems for the students to engage. The St. Thomas students lead their projects through a stage-gate design process requiring customer interviews, ideation, and design concept approvals fromworking engineers at each level. The projects culminate with students building, testing and validating a working prototype solution – not just written reports – for the sponsors. This all has led to nearly 150 different organizations collaborating

with the School of Engineering since the Senior Design Clinic’s inception in 2002. Partners over the years have ranged from start-ups and nonprofits to national brands, such as 3M, Target, Medtronic and Mayo Clinic. “We’ve had very positive experiences with the Senior Design Clinic program within Target’s Global Supply Chain and Logistics Engineering organization,” said Target’s Director of Supply Chain Engineering Ryan Boudewyns ’04, ’08 MS in systems engineering. “It’s a very mature program where it is apparent that the faculty and staff have taken intentional efforts to prepare seniors to interact with a corporation in a professional manner and navigate through the project lifecycle independently.”

Engineering students have completed more than 30 projects for 3M since 2007. “It is a win-win situation. The collaboration gives students real-life experience, and it is the right thing to do from 3M’s standpoint because we are really trying to develop the next generations of engineers who will come and do great work for us,” said Doug Jensen, an electrical engineer in 3M’s Personal Safety Division, who was a project sponsor of a low-pressure flow meter. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senior Design Clinic went fully virtual in 2020. “I and other 3Mers have been impressed with how the university has responded and how the students have adjusted to the new normal,” said 3M Senior Research Engineer Anna Hegdahl ’14.

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