If you're an engineer and want to really gain hands-on experience, definitely consider joining a project team. Being on a project team has definitely, without a doubt, been one of the best decisions I've made since coming to Cornell.
Engineer cancer-killing bacteria • Fabricate a fast, working canoe out of concrete • Design sustainable irrigation for Tanzanian farmers. All in a day's work for our student project teams!
The Project Team Experience
Cornell Engineering Project Teams offer students a unique, multifaceted learning opportunity. Entirely led and run by undergraduates, project teams collaboratively solve complex problems while gaining real-world engineering experience. Project team participation complements world-class classroom and laboratory learning, providing students with opportunities to hone leadership and professional skills alongside teammates from across the college and university. Innovation and teamwork drive the success of this unparalleled program.
Adding depth and a multidisciplinary approach, project teams are comprised of students from diverse academic backgrounds including all engineering disciplines, business, and the arts. Each team is divided into several sub-teams, so beyond sharpening technical skills, students can gain experience and expertise in business, design, marketing, fundraising, education, operations, and logistics. Faculty advisors and a dedicated project team staff provide technical and administrative support to each team and the overall program. Participants can earn academic credit for their work on a project team, which is particularly unique to this program.
Benefits of Project Team Participation
For their dedication and hard work, project team members reap boundless rewards. Project team students:
- gain practical engineering knowledge and know-how;
- design and construct novel products and systems;
- experience the complete design and build cycle for a product, system, or service;
- learn how to work and problem-solve within a diverse team;
- earn academic course credit;
- build a professional network with future colleagues, alumni, and corporate sponsors;
- hone life and work skills such as time management, professionalism, and working with limitations;
- create life-long friendships and community with their teammates.
By the Numbers
Cornell Engineering currently supports 34 project teams. This is the largest program of its kind in the country with nearly 1,400 student participants from all 14 engineering majors and from across Cornell’s seven undergraduate colleges/schools. Membership in project teams closely aligns with the gender ratio of the undergraduate student body at Cornell, with 50% male and 50% female participation during the 2021–22 academic year. Our project teams receive over $1 million in funding annually from the university, corporate sponsors, and individual donors. In addition to the Experiential Learning Lab, the dedicated “home” for project teams in Upson Hall, teams have access to state-of-the-art labs, workshops, and other specialized work areas across campus and beyond.
I love that I get to apply skills from the classroom to real world scenarios in the form of project teams and research alongside supportive staff and peers! I am on the project team Engineering World Health, where I help to come up with electrical engineering solutions to global health issues alongside companies.
In projects, students are doing real things, but with a safety net. They can experiment in a relatively low-risk environment, but there are real consequences to the decisions they’re making. And then if you reflect on that and talk about it and synthesize it, that’s where the magic happens.