Lehigh University’s Interdisciplinary Capstone Design program focuses on technical entrepreneurship through experiential learning. We use the new product development process as a means to the end of preparing our students to lead companies in creativity, innovation and the commercialization of intellectual property. Students who have participated in ICD find that their experiences are invaluable once they have entered the workplace.

The course sequence is the culmination of experiential learning where students work in cross-disciplinary teams with faculty and senior peer mentors, as well as with mentors from both established and local startup companies through sponsored partnerships. These partnerships form the backbone on which IPD establishes the interdisciplinary teams and the curricula focusing on experiential learning through product and process development. The award-winning program counts among its ranks about 400 industry sponsored projects and almost 3,000 student participants. Each year ICD offers this two-course sequence to approximately 200 students for a total of 5 or 6 credits that are co-listed under engineering, business, and design.

Typically each of the teams will have 5 or 6 students. The projects run one calendar year which is divided into three parts:

  1. A spring conceptual design semester, focusing on opportunity identification, market research, creative solutions, technical and financial feasibility.
  2. An optional summer at your company (funded separately).
  3. A fall semester of fabricating, building and testing a prototype, models and simulations of both technical and business aspects of the project.

The projects begin with a tradeshow-style Sponsor Fair in early spring and conclude with the final presentations in early December with many opportunities in between for both formal and informal interactions.

The sponsorship fee provides funding for both the project and program. If any inventions, improvements, discoveries or other Intellectual Property (IP) arise from the project, the sponsor retains title to them. In addition, ICD requires the sponsoring companies to:

  • Refrain from asking students to sign a Confidentiality, NDA or Non-Compete.
  • Maintain comprehensive liability and damage insurance of $1 million dollars.
  • Allow Lehigh to make the project description and results of the teamwork public.