Student Participation

student laser lab

Student Internships and Capstone Project Agreements

Supervising faculty and departments need to follow a few guidelines when working with students on projects involving companies: 

  1. Define the academic outcomes expected from the interactions and their importance to the student’s programs.
  2. Provide academic alternatives. This means that in any situation, such as a capstone class, the class should provide alternatives to working on company projects where the students are obligated to transfer ownership of the intellectual property to the company. For an example of a type of project that offered this kind of accommodation, read this Around the O story about the Prison Blues project. 
  3. In most situations, undergraduate students are not employees of the university nor does the university have any ownership or control over their intellectual property. Thus any rights the participating companies want are based upon agreements directly between them and each student working on their project. Each student needs to be free to make a choice regarding project participation or not. Companies will need to provide a simple agreement for students, units decide if these are consistent with their conditions of access, and then students will need to decide whether or not to participate in a given project under the term the company offers.
  4. In the case of internships, students are going to work at a company and may need to sign a form of employment agreement. Problems arise when the internships overlap with thesis or dissertation work. Then one needs to carve out explicitly and in advance a scope of work at the company so that it doesn’t overlap with the graduate program. If there is an expectation that the internship contributes to the thesis or dissertation work, then the student needs the ability to publish the necessary elements of the work in the thesis or dissertation and an appropriate access to data – remember the internship work may be considered confidential and proprietary to the company.

Our Innovation Partnership Services (IPS) unit has created a project management platform called Echelon: PI you can use to help manage your projects. For more information, please see Information Related to Student Internships and Capstone Project Agreements – For Faculty and Departments and Information Related to Student Internships and Capstone Project Agreements – For Students.