Senior Design

The Senior Design experience is a two semester course in which students experience the entire design process of a project. Students work as teams on pre-approved projects, under the direction of two faculty advisors, and deliver design reviews, a final report, a formal presentation, and a demonstration of the project. Students learn not only design methodology, but also non-technical aspects of engineering, including

  • Project Planning
  • Project Management
  • Teamwork
  • Documentation
  • Intellectual property
  • Budgeting & Feasibility
  • Ethics
  • Health and Safety
  • Reliability

Senior Design Guidelines

A. Scheduling and Prerequisites

Senior Design I and Senior Design II during the Fall and Spring semesters. Students should normally plan to take Senior Design according to this schedule. Senior Design will not be offered in Summer Sessions.


  1. Exemptions from the prerequisites will be granted only by special permission, and only if (a) the student receives written permission from both the instructor and the department chair, and (b) the student meets all the prerequisites related to his/her proposed project, and (c) the exemption is necessary to avoid delaying graduation.
  2. Students are free to do preparatory work, research potential projects, or get a head start on their projects at any time before starting senior design, however, projects will still be subject to review and approval at the start of Senior Design I.

B. Project Groups

  1. A project group will consist of either two or three students. Groups may include members from other majors.
  2. Large projects involving more than three students may be proposed, but they must be divided into subprojects, each with two or three students, and each subproject must be capable of being demonstrated and evaluated independent of the other subprojects. Each subproject must meet all of the requirements for project content (see below), and each subgroup must submit separate progress and final reports, make a separate presentation, and fulfill all course requirements.
  3. Since one of the course objectives is development of project teamwork skills, individual (single student) projects or subprojects are not permitted.

C. Project Contest Requirements

  1. Projects must meet ABET Criterion 4, which reads: a major design experience, based on the knowledge and skills acquired in earlier coursework and incorporating engineering standards and realistic constraints that include most of the following considerations: economic; environmental; sustainability; manufacturability; ethical; health and safety; political.
  2. Projects must include at least two out of the following three components:
    • Design, construction, and successful testing of digital electronic hardware
    • Design, construction, and successful testing of analog electronic hardware
    • Design, implementation, and successful testing of embedded or control software.
  3. Projects must incorporate subject material from several different electrical engineering classes, at a level of complexity, difficulty, and technical maturity that demonstrates competence in the subject area.
  4. Projects must include the application of software, either embedded in the project or through the use of design software.

D. Project Completion Requirements

In order to receive a satisfactory grade (A, B, or C) all projects must result in:
  1. a finished, working product that has been
  2. systematically tested,
  3. documented in the form of a comprehensive written report, and
  4. presented to the electrical engineering faculty through oral presentation and laboratory demonstration.

In general, it is expected that final products will be substantially equivalent to the originally proposed project. This does not preclude modification of specifications or features for valid engineering reasons, provided that these modifications are approved by the faculty technical advisor(s) and the course instructor.

E. Senior Design I - Specific Requirements

In order to receive a satisfactory grade (A, B, or C) for the first semester of Senior Design, students should:
  1. produce a preliminary design that is complete to the component level in hardware, and to the flowchart/algorithm level in software.
  2. conduct quantitative analysis, simulation, and preliminary lab testing that indicates, to the satisfaction of the students technical advisor, that the proposed design concept is feasible.
  3. write and submit a comprehensive written report documenting the design and analysis.
  4. meet syllabus requirements, including but not limited to: regular meetings with the faculty advisor,timely submission of progress reports, and informal and formal presentation of the design, including a major design presentation at the end of the first semester.

F. Senior Design II - Specific Requirements

In order to receive a satisfactory grade (A, B, or C) for the second semester of Senior Design, students should:
  1. meet the project completion requirements given in Section D above.
  2. meet syllabus requirements,including but not limited to: regular meetings with the faculty advisor, timely submission of progress reports, and submission of final written report, oral presentation, and demonstration.

G. Project Proposals and Advisors

  1. The instructor for Senior Design I will set a deadline and format for students to submit a project proposal, typically within the first three weeks of the semester.
  2. Project proposal ideas may originate with students, faculty, or industry; however, each group is responsible for selecting and proposing a project.
  3. Proposals must be approved by the electrical engineering faculty.
  4. Students may suggest or request a particular advisor; however, final assignment of advisors to projects will be made by the instructor.

H. Unfinished Projects, Grading Policies

  1. According to UTRGV university-wide grading policies effective starting 2008, grades of Incomplete (I) can only be issued for compelling medical reasons arising after 75% or more of the course has been completed, and require the approval of the Dean. This is a change from prior policy.
  2. In order to consider Senior Design I completed and move on to Senior Design II, students must receive a grade of A, B, or C.
  3. In order to consider Senior Design II completed and meet graduation requirements, students must receive a grade of A, B, C, or D.
  4. Final decisions on grades are made by the Instructor of Record, with advice from the faculty technical advisor(s).