Projects Day Celebrates Clinic 50th

April 22, 2013

The Harvey Mudd College community will gather Tuesday, May 7, for its annual Projects Day. This year marks 50 years of HMC’s Clinic Program.

projects-day-1The free, public event will feature student teams presenting results from 42 Clinic projects, unique capstone experiences that allow students to provide solutions for corporate, national laboratory and agency sponsors. High school students from Village Academy in Pomona, Calif., will attend Projects Day to view the student presentations and a talk by HMC Director of Admission Peter Osgood.

The day’s lineup includes 20 Engineering Clinics, 11 Computer Science Clinics, five Mathematics Clinics, four Engineering/Physics Clinics and two Global Clinics.

Projects Day will begin with a poster session at 10:30 a.m. in Platt Campus Center.  At 1 p.m., participants can attend the program’s general session, featuring welcoming remarks from President Maria Klawe and Dean of Faculty Jeff Groves and the presentation of the 2013 Milestone Awards, which celebrate organizations that have sponsored multiple Clinics. This year’s award recipients are DIRECTV, Los Alamos National Laboratory and The Aerospace Corporation.

projects-day-3Student teams will begin presenting their projects at 1:30 p.m.

The Clinic Program, an internationally recognized hallmark of Harvey Mudd College, engages juniors and seniors in the solution of real-world, technical problems for industrial clients.

Founded as an innovation in engineering education in 1963, Clinic has been expanded to other HMC academic departments and copied by institutions worldwide. The National Academy of Engineering recognized the program and three HMC faculty members—Clive L. Dym, M. Mack Gilkeson and J. Richard Phillips—with the 2012 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education “for creating and disseminating innovations in undergraduate engineering design education to develop engineering leaders.”

Under the guidance of a faculty advisor and a company liaison, students work in teams of four or five to develop solutions to unsolved problems presented by sponsoring organizations. The company liaison outlines what the company expects for its investment, approves the team’s proposal for accomplishing its work, sets up meetings between the Clinic team and company representatives and, on occasion, arranges for special testing equipment and/or software.

Applying their learning in creative ways, HMC students then deliver—either pushing forward the industry standard in research and development or building a working prototype that meets company specifications. Companies retain all intellectual property rights that arise out of the project, and it is not uncommon for HMC students to be named on patents.

In recent years, Clinic sponsors have filed between 10 and 15 patent disclosures at the end of their projects. HMC students have tackled challenging problems in nearly 1,400 Clinic projects for more than 400 clients, many of them Fortune 1000 companies.

HMC students work on their 2011-2012 Clinic project, “Implementing Regenerative Braking on Launched Roller Coasters,” sponsored by Paramount Pictures.