Capstone Research and Design Thesis Project

Design in the Engineering Science curriculum has a broad interpretation. For engineering science faculty and students, design is a creative and iterative process that encompasses systems, components, and processes related to, for example, material, biological, chemical, mechanical, and electrical systems. Within these systems, design is performed at length scales ranging from nanometers (the atomic level) to tens of meters (the length scales associated with our everyday experiences).

The tools used for design include mathematical models (their development and iterative refinement), algorithms, computer simulations, experimentation, and prototyping. These tools are integrated to achieve the objective of our Senior Research and Design Project.

Our Senior Capstone Research and Design Project, which culminates in an oral presentation and a written thesis, incorporates design in a variety of ways befitting our inter-disciplinary department. Engineering science students participate in projects in all engineering disciplines and employ design principles before, during, and after analysis, experimentation, and/or simulation. The resulting designs of systems, components, or processes are then tested and refined by changing material, geometric, stochastic, or other parameters, as required.

The design is often not a machine component or a bridge, but may be a new experimental process, nanoscale device, or computer code for the modeling and/or analysis of an engineering system or process. Computer programs, written initially to analyze, are frequently rewritten to function as design tools. As appropriate, knowledge of physics, chemistry, mathematics, mechanics, materials science, etc. is harnessed along with the iterative nature of design to complete an independent research project, within a team-based environment, in a timely manner.

Contact UsPartner With Us


The Penn State Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics (ESM) is an internationally distinguished department that is recognized for its globally competitive excellence in engineering and scientific accomplishments, research, and educational leadership.

Our Engineering Science program is the official undergraduate honors program of the College of Engineering, attracting the University’s brightest engineering students. We also offer graduate degrees in ESM, engineering mechanics, engineering at the nano-scale, and an integrated undergraduate/graduate program.

Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics

212 Earth and Engineering Sciences Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-4523