The ASPIRE program is a multi-university educational Capstone series to foster university student development, critical thinking, team building, cross-disciplinary & cross-university projects and Army application skills to develop future workforce for the Army C5ISR needs in Research, Technology & Innovation.

ASPIRE program has partnered with the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) - CCI

  • Experiential learning, STEM & cross disciplinary projects
  • Workforce development, talent identification & management
  • Strategic partnership & collaboration with universities (HBCU/MI)

The Capstone Design course at the School of Science & Engineering (S&E) is meant to be the climax of every S&E student's undergraduate education. As a prerequisite to attaining a Bachelor's degree, the Capstone Design course presents each student with the challenge of working in a team to tackle actual engineering problems within and across the fields of Physics, Chemical and Life Science, Mechanical and Nuclear, Biomedical & Bioengineering, Electrical, and Computer Engineering and general Science. A significant real-world aspect arises from opportunities presented to the students from the industrial community as well as other schools within the university. In all cases student teams learn and apply the engineering design process: defining functional requirements, conceptualization, and analysis, identifying risks and countermeasures, selection, prototyping and testing. At the end of the two semester course, the student teams present their work to the sponsors, faculty, students, invited guests and the general public at the Capstone Design Expo and/or other venues. Not only do they have the chance to display actual working models and prototypes, but they also compete for awards and prizes.

Along the way, the students gain the valuable experience of working in teams, including group dynamics; dealing with conflicts, meeting time-driven deliverables and deadlines; and communication among team members, project sponsors, and faculty advisors. They also are exposed to experts from Industry and non-engineering academic disciplines as well as engineers and scientists of all types. Topics include intellectual property, industrial design, manufacturing, sales, product development and marketing, finance, and ethics. In the end, via earlier course work plus this realistic and rigorous design course, students are prepared for the everyday practice of engineering.


The proposed senior design capstone projects are designed for education, practical experience and collaboration with the Army and iDISPLA community. Each of these two-semester projects consists of a team of undergraduate students supervised by the university faculty and guided by the industrial sponsors and partners' technical staff. The student team will develop an engineering design, write their results in several interim reports and a final report, and present their results in a final senior design competition held at the university expo. The students also have the opportunity to present their results in regional and national science & engineering student conferences and competitions. In some cases technical publications can result from these activities.

The objectives of these projects are to introduce the students to important areas of science and technology that are of interest to national security and commercial applications. It prepares students to enter the workforce in government labs and in industry, recruit well-trained students to graduate school and guide their research in areas of interest to the Army as well as the iDISPLA community. These projects enhances interaction between the university faculty, students, Army S & T community and iDISPLA industrial complex researchers and help guide educational and research efforts at the university towards innovation.

The scope of work entails completion of all projects as per the respective university senior design course requirements for earning credit.

Standard Senior Design Course

The senior capstone design experience for undergraduates is a two-semester course. The first semester is mainly devoted to proposal development and design for a multidisciplinary group project. The senior design projects aim at developing engineering design skills. Elements of developing a successful design proposal are emphasized along with written communication skills, engineering professional development, technical presentation skills, developing an understanding of the societal impact of the project, and developing realistic constraints on the design based on engineering standards. In the second semester, the students implement the design proposal developed in the first semester, write their final report, and present their results in oral and poster formats. In most cases a practical working model and/or prototype demonstration is showcased to the Army S&T community and others in the ecosystem.

Course Learning Major Outcomes

  • Practice of the engineering design process and develop scientific skills
  • Implement the engineering design, understand design constraints, and explore alternative designs
  • Test design, determine functionality and limitations
  • Write a professional engineering report
  • Skills necessary to interact as productive members of an engineering team
  • Appreciation of engineering ethics
  • Develop awareness of societal, environmental, educational, and economic issues of the engineering profession
  • Present a professional oral presentation and/or demonstration

The assessment of these projects will be compliant to standard university process in such research/project activities. Typically the university uses a set of rubrics to evaluate the outcome of the senior design projects. A committee of faculty staff and the faculty project advisor complete the assessment rubric and the results are summarized and used to assure that the design projects fulfill the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) outcomes and to continue to improve the students' learning. In addition, the Army sponsors provide relevant input to the students and potential practical applications.


  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Virginia Tech
  • Old Dominion University
  • George Mason University
  • Virginia State University
  • City College of New York
  • North Carolina A&T
  • Christopher Newport University
  • Penn State University