Undergraduate Student Handbook

Inter-Departmental Senior Design (ISD) Projects

Students who wish to undertake their senior design project that will include team members from different departments may pursue an “Inter-Departmental Senior Design” (ISD) project. To apply for an ISD Project, please complete and submit the ISD Proposal Form and all requested accompanying materials. Please use this Proposal Narrative form to complete the narrative portion of your proposalInstructions for preparing your proposal are as follows:


1. Students on your ISD Team: Typically, a team of 3-5 is preferred. If you will be proposing a team that is larger than five persons, you may be requested to provide additional information to justify the larger number, including a deeper explanation of the unique contributions of each team member, and why such a large team is needed. Please note the following exceptions:

  • CBE Majors may not participate in ISD.
  • Teams combining EE and SSE majors are not considered for ISD. They will participate in the ESE Department's Senior Design course.
  • Teams combining CMPE and/or NETS majors with EE, SSE, and/or CSCI majors are also not considered for ISD. These teams must choose between the ESE or the CIS Department's Senior Design course.

2. Project Title: Please provide a working title of your ISD Project. We realize that the final project title may change as you progress through the project.

3. Host Department/Course Enrollment:  Please state which department will serve as host of your ISD project. Explain why your proposed department is best suited to accommodate your project. Note that the CBE Department will be unable to host any ISD projects (MEAM will be able to host ISD projects after all). Also, please note the following:

  1. Course enrollment: The entire team will register for the regularly scheduled Senior Design course (Fall and Spring) of a single department (the one that will serve as the host department of your ISD project).
  2. Final presentations: Final presentations will be made in only the department in which this project team is registered.  A team may not present in more than ONE department's senior design final presentations.
  3. Grading: All students on the team will follow the grading policies of, and final grades will be assigned by, the host department's Senior Design course instructor

4. Advisor(s): Who will serve as the team's advisor(s) of this project? Describe the ways in which the proposed person(s) is well positioned to serve as advisor(s) to this project. (An advisor should be a subject matter expert who provides technical guidance for the project.)  Your proposal must be accompanied by verification that the proposed ISD Project advisor(s) agree to serve in this capacity. This can be in the form of an email printout, or a letter stating so.


5. Narrative: This form is available here. A maximum length of 1,200 words is requested. Please provide a context for your ISD project/idea. Describe the problem(s) you seek to address. Who will be the project's target audience, end-user, or market? How will this project utilize inter-disciplinary approaches and the unique elements that will be drawn from the different disciplines? How is each student on the team expected to uniquely contribute to the project based on their major? Include graphics where appropriate. Also include a bibliography.

6. Senior Design Course Learning Outcomes (CLO) Composite Table:  The departmental Senior Design course for each accredited BSE Program has a set of Course Learning Outcomes (CLO). Please carefully review these. You proposal will need to articulate how your ISD project will meet the CLO's of each student's majors on the team who is not a Major in the HOST Department (per item 3 above). Complete the Senior Design Course Learning Outcomes Composite Table. (To make the process more efficient, after downloading the Excel file, you may cut and paste the CLO's by rows into the Composite Table form.)

  • Step 1: Insert the CLO's of the Host department.
  • Step 2: In subsequent rows insert the CLO's of departments/majors all affected Majors whose CLO's are not covered by the HOST Department.
  • Step 3: Describe how your team will ensure that affected student(s) will be able to meet the CLO's listed in Step 2. Examples include such activities as requiring team members to find and attend workshops that are offered at Penn that address the CLO(s).


[  ] ISD Proposal Form (items 1-4 above)
[  ] ISD Proposal Narrative (Item 5 above)
[  ] Senior Design Course Learning Outcomes Composite Table (Item 6 above)
[  ] Verification of proposed advisor(s) agreement to serve (per item 4 above)

DEADLINE: The application deadline is April 1 of the Spring Semester prior to the senior year.  Decisions will be made by mid-April.

SUBMISSION: Completed proposals should be submitted to the SEAS Office of Academic Programs (APO), 111 Towne. (Be sure to always make/keep a copy of forms for your own records).