Engineering Students Tackle Real-World Industry Design Problems through Distinctive “In-House Co-Ops”

Multidisciplinary Design Lab

Through the College of Engineering’s Multidisciplinary Design Lab (MDL), Villanova engineering students get the opportunity to work on exciting industry-sponsored projects in a unique “in-house co-op” setting. Equipped with the latest technologies, the MDL provides a space for students to tackle real-world design problems. The experience also provides students with valuable interactions with experienced industry mentors and opens doors to internships and future career opportunities.

The brainchild of Dr. Gary Gabriele, Drosdick Endowed Dean of Engineering, the MDL offers a high-tech collaboration space for students to work in teams across the disciplines of Electrical, Computer, and Mechanical Engineering with engineers from partner companies to conduct real-world industry research. This provides students with the experience of helping companies solve some of their toughest engineering challenges in a space custom-made for and dedicated to design.

“Design is a core activity of engineering,” explains Dr. Gabriele. “But it is rare for an engineering college to actually provide specific space for student design work. Here, we have done that.”

“Involving industry in the process is just a natural outgrowth of providing our students with the best possible learning experience,” added Dr.Gabriele. “Through industry problems and mentorship, our students can best understand the types of design problems faced by professional engineers. On the flipside, industry benefits from working with young minds. More importantly, they get to see potential employees at work.”

Through exposure to industry challenges and mentorship, engineering students better understand the types of design problems that professional engineers face. Industry benefits from student creativity and fresh perspective. Companies also see the MDL as an “in-house co-op,” which gives them a chance to see how a student works with the company.

Most engineering colleges require a Capstone project for all seniors. Designed to demonstrate everything students have learned throughout their college careers, the projects incorporate leadership and management, allowing students to build confidence and apply analysis skills. The MDL industry-sponsored projects run parallel with the Capstone program. Now, students can either complete a Capstone project or elect to do an industry-sponsored project through the MDL.

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About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.