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 by the third Friday of September in the senior year. Please use this Proposal Narrative form to complete the narrative portion of your proposal. Instructions for preparing your proposal are as follows:

CBE Majors: If you participate in ISD, in the Fall semester of senior year, you must still take CBE 400 Intro to Process Design. In addition, you must register in the first course of Senior Design in the same department in which your team is enrolled. You may use this credit toward any ENGINEERING elective requirement in the CBE program. In the spring, you will enroll in the second course of Senior Design in the same department, which will replace CBE 459 Process System Design Projects.



1. Students on your ISD Team: Typically, a team of 3-5 is preferred. If you are proposing a team 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:

  • Teams combining EE and SSE majors are not considered for ISD. They will be considered part of 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 for 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. 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/are 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.


[  ] ISD Proposal Form (items 1-4 above)
[  ] ISD Proposal Narrative (Item 5 above)
[  ] Verification of proposed advisor(s) agreement to serve (per item 4 above)

DEADLINE: The application deadline is the second Friday of September in the senior year.  Decisions will be made by the third week of September..

SUBMISSION: Completed proposals must be submitted as a single completed pdf file. Send via email jan@seas.upenn.edu. Be sure to always make/keep a copy of forms for your own records.