Sponsored project guidelines

Capstone project guidelines for IP and sharing of information in University of Nevada, Reno Engineering capstone senior design courses

These Guidelines must be signed and acknowledged by Industry Partners, the instructor of record and the student prior to starting work on the Engineering Capstone Senior Design Project.

Download and sign the Capstone Guidelines document.

Capstone Senior Design Projects are required in order to obtain an undergraduate degree from the College of Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). The projects are 6 credits divided over two semesters. Sometimes an Industry Partner is involved in the Capstone Project by providing resources and guidance to a student team. The following Guidelines are helpful for information sharing and intellectual property considerations:

Four Types of Capstone Projects

There are four types of Capstone Projects differentiated by which resources, funds, facilities, and equipment are used in the project:

  • Standard UNR-based project. Resources to work on the Capstone Project are provided by UNR, including substantial use of facilities and equipment and/or funding.
  • Other UNR department-funded project. Funding or other resources to work on the Capstone Project are provided by a college other than the College of Engineering or department other than those within the College of Engineering. The facilities and equipment are provided by UNR.
  • Industry-funded, UNR-based project. Funding or other resources and guidance to work on the Capstone Project are provided by an Industry Partner, while facilities, equipment, and/or other funds are provided by the UNR.
  • Industry-funded, industry-based project. Resources to work on Capstone Project are provided entirely by an Industry Partner and may include funds, use of facilities and equipment, and guidance. No UNR facilities, funds, or resources are used.

Proprietary information under NDA

An Industry Partner may share its proprietary information with students and/or faculty to make the Capstone Project a better experience and learning case. Students may be asked to individually sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement ("NDA") with an Industry Partner in order to receive such information. A student signing an NDA should be aware of the obligations not to disclose any proprietary information provided under the NDA and the impact of those obligations on any Capstone Project report or otherwise. Such NDAs directly involve the student and the Industry Partner and UNR is not a party. NDAs must allow students to make presentations of their projects to the university community. For reference, a sample NDA is available on request by contacting the Office of Enterprise & Innovation (see contact information below).

Intellectual Property (IP)

Students typically own IP they create unless the students are:

  1. employed by UNR
  2. making substantial use of UNR resources including facilities and equipment, or
  3. using UNR- administered funds including contracts, grants, and gifts

In these instances, UNR may own the rights to the IP. The UNR Intellectual Property Policy can be found in the University's administrative manual.

For Industry-funded, Industry-based Projects, Industry Partners may request other arrangements with the students with respect to IP ownership. NDAs between students and Industry Partners might include statements regarding ownership of IP. Students and Industry Partners are advised to avoid creating conflicting obligations regarding assignment of IP. If the student and Industry Partner desire to have student IP transferred to the Industry Partner, there must be a clear written assignment of the IP to the Industry Partner prior to the initiation of the Capstone Project. If a student does not wish to participate in the project that requires assignment of IP, that student may choose to work on a different project. This decision should be made prior to initiation of any Capstone Project.

Funding and remuneration

Funding for the Capstone Project, whether provided by industry or a UNR College or Department, will be paid directly to the UNR Foundation and then will go to the specific College of Engineering Department that is overseeing the Capstone Project. That Department will manage the funds.

Students should not use their own funds or resources for the Capstone Project.

In order to receive academic credit for the Capstone course, students cannot receive remuneration, gifts or other consideration in connection with the Capstone Project from the Industry Partner or from any UNR department external to the student's major that is funding the project


Except for proprietary information provided to UNR students, employees or faculty under an NDA, students shall be free to present, publish and communicate information about their projects without restrictions.

Open source

Subject to the terms of an NDA or UNR contracts or grants in which students may participate, students may create open source and publicly open end products and open results. If the student has no obligations to disclose or assign to UNR under the Intellectual Property Policy, then s/he is free to do whatever they want with their work product under Capstone (subject to any obligations they may have to the Industry Partner).

Subject matter of Capstone Project

The subject matter of the student's Capstone Project shall not violate any applicable federal, state or local law and shall not violate any NSHE or UNR policy or regulation. Projects cannot include the use of guns, alcohol, marijuana or other illegal drugs and must comply with NSHE and UNR's Export Control and Economic Sanctions Policies.

Course syllabus

These Guidelines cannot be used in lieu of a course syllabus, but shall be referenced in the course syllabus for each Capstone Project.

For more information on the Capstone Program, please contact the Associate Dean, College of Engineering at (775) 784-6925. For more information or assistance on intellectual property matters, please contact UNR's Office of Enterprise & Innovation at (775) 784-4421.