July 7, 2022

UW Tacoma engineering students ready to tackle your project

Does your business, organization or agency have a project in mind, but you’re not sure when or how to get it done? Students from the University of Washington Tacoma School of Engineering and Technology (SET) may be your solution.

The Industry Capstone Program brings together UW Tacoma SET students and companies to take on real-world, multidisciplinary engineering problems. With the help of technical and faculty mentors, student teams complete a full-cycle design and build process over three quarters – from concept to the launch of a finished project.

A win for students and business

While SET students get valuable, career-relevant experience, the companies they’re teamed with also reap multiple benefits, including:

    • The opportunity to see student skills and innovation in action and recruit employees.
    • A low-cost option that puts fresh eyes on a problem.
    • A way to build brand recognition among the next generation of engineers.
    • Stronger ties to the UW Tacoma SET program.

“This is one more way our innovative programs are a resource for industry in the community,” said Andrew Fry, Director of Industry Partnerships and lecturer for the UW Tacoma School of Engineering and Technology. “We’re helping companies and organizations attack those great ideas that may not be at the front gate.”

 Project proposals for fall launch are currently being accepted for student teams from the Computer, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering programs. (Mechanical Engineering student teams are a new addition to the Capstone Program this year.) Beginning fall 2023, senior students from UW Tacoma’s new Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering program will also be in the mix.

Finding solutions for aerospace giants and savvy startups

Student teams take on a wide span of projects from across industries, from big issues proposed by Boeing, Intel, and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Bremerton to smaller problems offered up by startups.

Aquagga is just one Pierce County company that’s benefitted from the Industry Capstone Program. The water treatment startup and alumnus of the Tacoma Maritime Innovation Incubator was searching for an automated solution to simplify the process of neutralizing high pH (potential Hydrogen) levels before water discharge. A four-student UW Tacoma SET team worked with the company to create a prototype that uses pumps to combine liquids and a sensor that automatically controls discharged pH. The team also developed an interface using Microsoft HoloLens, a mixed-reality headset that enables users to control pH levels through hand gestures or voice commands.

“The work the team did for us was impressive, especially when you consider these were electrical engineering students – not chemical engineers,” Pinkard said. “They learned the chemistry and chemical mixing requirements and had to deal with other challenges. And then they came up with a solution.”

Pinkard hopes other UW Tacoma SET students will pick up where the first team left off. “We’re excited to be more engaged with UW Tacoma and thrilled to see the college grow and invest in these programs,” he said. “As a business owner, it’s a great time to be in Tacoma-Pierce County.”

It starts with a project proposal

For companies, organizations or agencies interested in getting a project off the ground this fall,  proposals should be submitted to Andrew Fry by September 1. Fry also welcomes project proposals for the next academic school year when more senior students will feed into the program.

If you have a project in mind or would like to learn more about the Industry Capstone Program and the project submission process, visit the UW Tacoma website or contact Fry at [email protected] or 253-692-4583.


Stay Informed

Interested in learning more about building a business in Pierce County? Our team of economic development professionals are here to help. Sign up for our e-newsletter to stay informed.