Senior Design Program



Designing the Future

MORE THAN 1,200 STUDENTS have gone through the Department of Mechanical Engineering’s capstone program since its founding in 1984. Each year, industry sponsors’ cutting-edge projects motivate and excite our students to explore the challenges of design engineering in the real world.

Our sponsors provide student teams with funds for materials, access to world-class resources, and technical contacts; and the students provide sponsors with functioning prototypes that have gone through the design loop several times and have been tested at the clients’ facilities.

The Senior Design experience is much like an apprenticeship: students learn to work in teams, meet deadlines, manage project resources, and apply critical thinking to real problems that matter.


Join us for Johns Hopkins Engineering Design Day 2021

Tuesday. May 4. 2021 
*Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the 2021 Design Day will be held virtually. Click below for schedule and link:


2021 MechE Design Day Info



Student Success Stories

The Senior Design Project is the capstone of Johns Hopkins Mechanical Engineering program.  The course requires students to draw upon the four years of knowledge and experience they’ve gained in their engineering studies and put it to practical use. Throughout the year, they produce progress reports as they design, build, and test the devices they’re developing. Combining engineering theory, budgeting, and time management with interactions with real clients, the senior design project is critical to students’ preparation for the transition from school to the workplace. Here’s a sampling of the unique projects our students have worked on:



Building better tools for prenatal diagnostics (2020)

Some of the most useful or powerful diagnostic methods, for conditions affecting mothers and fetuses, require a sample of fetal DNA. For many years the only way to get some of that was to sample directly, a procedure that was always dangerous to the fetus. Fortunately, fetal DNA shows up, in very small quantities, in the mother’s blood stream. Students are working with Professor Claire Hur to develop a low-resource, commercial version of Hur’s hardware that extracts fetal DNA from the mother’s blood for prenatal diagnostics.

Expanding access to lifesaving breast cancer treatments (2019)

In lower-income countries, the main barriers to treating breast cancer are inadequate treatment options. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are often impractical or too expensive, and women in remote areas have long travel times to regional hospitals. To address this problem, students designed, built, and tested a flowmeter for use with the Kubanda Cryosurgical System, a cryoablation probe developed by Johns Hopkins students that offers an affordable, widely-available alternative for breast cancer treatment in low-resource settings.

Managing blood product storage and transportation (2018)

Blood and blood products must be kept at a specific temperature for transport in hospitals. For example, if blood was brought to the operating room but was unused and  stored at the wrong temperature, it would have to be thrown out. Alongside experts from the Transfusion Medicine Division in the Johns Hopkins Department of Pathology, students worked on a prototype for a refrigerated “blood cart” that can transport blood products while keeping them at the correct temperature.

Improving security cameras (2020)

Security cameras are often subjected to a wide range of vibration due to the environment, mounting location, and proximity to vibration sources. Such vibrations can cause a serious decrease in video quality. Bosch Security and Safety Systems wants to find a solution to minimize the effects of high frequency vibrations on their security cameras. They enlisted mechanical engineering students to  design, build, and test an apparatus to simulate and reproduce the real world effects of low-frequency, high-amplitude vibrations on a mounted security camera. Bosch hopes that such a device will help them discover new image stabilization techniques. 

Reducing lawnmower-related injuries to children (2019)

“In the beginning, we probably threw 30 ideas at the problem, just to find one that even had a shot at preventing lawnmower injuries. We just had to keep working through ideas, as practical or wild as they were,” said Natalie Myers. Her team worked with faculty from the Johns Hopkins Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine to devise a solution to a serious problem they see too often in the emergency room: riding lawnmower-related injuries to children. The team developed two safety mechanisms that address the most commons causes of lawnmower injuries.

Keeping EMTS safe

EMTs are twice as likely to be involved in work-related transportation accidents. Johns Hopkins Pediatric Transport Unit asked Senior Design students to address a real need – designing a system that will keep EMTs safer during transport calls. The team created a system that can monitor the amount of time EMTs are ‘seated and not belted’ and ‘seated and belted’. The goal is to further develop technology that will encourage EMTs to increase seatbelt usage.

Preventing injury for instrumental musicians (2020)

Working with a team of faculty from Johns Hopkins Center for Music and Medicine, students aimed to enhance the “SmartGuitar” that will measure the precise point at which musicians exert too much (or too little) force, such as when pushing a string toward the fret board. The technology will train users, from novice to virtuoso, to adjust their technique to minimize the risk of injury and improve performance.


Testing to improve lacrosse equipment design (2018) 

Local company East Coast Dyes (ECD) is a manufacturer of high quality lacrosse equipment. ECD believes that research and rigorous testing is key to delivering the best possible products. They’ve enlisted several Senior Design teams to help them develop new systems to test their equipment, including a robotic mechanism to mimic an elite lacrosse player’s throw.

Streamlining the guitar manufacturing process (2017)

Paul Reed Smith (PRS) Guitars strives to build the best guitars and guitar products possible. So the company asked Senior Design students to investigate and improve their guitar manufacturing process. The team studied several manufacturing processes at PRS and identified three areas where increases in efficiency could be made. The team performed case studies and built new wood pressing equipment to streamline the manufacturing process.


Faster mosquito imaging (2020)

Mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on the planet, responsible for 830,000 lost lives per year through their bites. To fight mosquitoes effectively, it is important to know what species are where, and to know it on a time scale shorter than the life cycle of the insects. Researchers in the Johns Hopkins Department of Biomedical Engineering have already developed a computer vision system that can automatically determine the species of new mosquito images with high accuracy. However, what arrives at the lab from the traps is a tangled piled of dead mosquitos. Mechanical engineering students are stepping in to help build a piece of lab equipment that can separate,  sort, and feed individual mosquitos to the vision system for proper classification.


Collecting space dust (2019) 

Space contains dust, and that dust contains a wealth of unique information about our solar system. Senior Design students worked with engineers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and spaceflight company Blue Origin to develop a prototype that will allow researchers to sample dust from the high atmosphere.

Protecting the oyster supply (2018)

Currently, oyster farmers have very limited solutions for the storage of oysters on land during environmental factors like hurricanes, algae blooms, or red tides. Yet restaurants are looking for consistency in their supply in terms of flavor, health, size, and shape. Senior design students designed a prototype of a wet storage system that will oyster farmers keep up with this demand, even during unfavorable weather conditions.

A mission to make self-driving military vehicles better (2020)

Autonomous vehicles are of interest to the military because they might be able to carry supplies through dangerous country or carry wounded soldiers away from combat. An autonomous vehicle will need to deal with rocks, trees, gullies, wire fences and much more. It will also have to recognize and work well around other vehicles. The Army Research Lab enlisted the help of Senior Design students to create a disposable, lightweight, decoy vehicle that will help the military test autonomous vehicles.

Engineering solutions for cold weather missions  (2017)

The Army has several bases and training operations in Alaska. If a soldier needs IV fluid and it is very cold, perhaps as cold as -40°F, the usual IV bag and line (flexible tube) can freeze within minutes. Sponsored by U.S. Army Medical Material Development Activity and the Johns Hopkins University Military and Veterans Health Institute, the Senior Design team developed a system to heat and insulate IV bags and lines against extreme cold temperatures for use by medics on missions in cold environments like Alaska.

Helping soldiers transport heavy loads (2017) 

Soldiers have to carry heavy packs and equipment across rough terrains. In its annual design competition, Air Force Research Lab challenged university students to find a solution to this problem. Mechanical engineering students in the Senior Design course competed in the national competition. The team built an electrically powered device that allows soldiers to quickly and safely transport a minimum of 350 lbs across rough terrain.




Juniors, prepare for senior design!

Though the course is called “Senior Design,” the preparation work begins in the Junior year. Here’s how to prepare:


1. Form Teams in March of the Junior Year!

Visit the page, Johns Hopkins Mechanical Engineering – Senior Design FAQ for Juniors for information on how to get started.

Note that preparations begin in early-March of the Junior year.  You are responsible to form teams with classmates beginning in early-March.

Get a jump on your preparations now.  Don’t miss out!


2. Take Engineering Design Process as a Senior Design preview!

The course EN.530.381 Engineering Design Process (E, 3 credits) is an excellent way to get a taste of what Senior Design is like. You will work with active Senior Design teams and contribute to those projects while learning vital design skills like rapid sketching, hand drawing, prototype design and creation, teamwork, negotiation, ordering from suppliers, and documenting your work.

The course will count in these ways:

  • Mechanical Engineering major – Mechanical Engineering elective or Technical Elective
  • Engineering Mechanics major – Technical Elective or possible an Engineering Mechanics or Engineering Science elective.

Your faculty advisor will help you determine where it counts in your degree.

We strongly suggest you consider this course as part of your elective choices!  Prof. Nathan Scott can answer your questions at






“ For my Senior Design team, I was chiefly responsible for FEAs, which I now do for my job. The technical presentation skills I gained in Senior Design, both in reports and in meetings, were invaluable and have definitely helped me excel in my current job where I am expected to communicate results to design teams and document my technical findings in a clear and thorough manner.”

Caitlin Clancy

Mechanical Structural Analyst, Raytheon

“In Senior Design, I was able to gain design experience for mass-produced parts that you simply can’t learn from a textbook. My own successes and failures during the program taught me in nine months what would have otherwise taken years. Senior Design really jump-started my career in product development at Stanley Black & Decker.”

Nate Green

Mechanical Engineer, Stanley Black & Decker

“The Senior Design program mimics real world engineering challenges and constraints beyond textbook knowledge.  The scope of the projects are usually very complex, and graduating students demonstrate excellent problem solving, project management and team building skills. Senior Design is an excellent growth experience that gives students confidence in their future.”

Gordon Brown

Senior Design Judge, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)

“For a small cost, ARL gets the chance have engineering students work on a design challenge that is important to our mission and could provide great payback. As a sponsor, ARL helps young engineers coming out of college be much more productive when starting their careers. One major benefit for ARL is that we have hired some graduates and they were ready to jump right in.”

Bradford David

U.S. Army Research Laboratory



Become a Sponsor

Our Senior Design program has a strong history of collaboration with sponsors from a range of disciplines across industry, government, academia, and nonprofit. Sponsors provide an open-ended problem and our students take the project through the design process to deliver their client an inventive, tangible solution. Projects that sponsors may not have the time or resources to pursue become the top priority of a team of Hopkins engineers.

Sponsors continually tell us that the Senior Design experience gives a solid return on their investment. Sponsors are exposed to the fresh perspectives and creative thinking of the very best undergraduate engineers—and Hopkins faculty—and a talent pool of potential employees.

The capstone Senior Design experience allows students to develop skills and apply concepts that are valued by employers. In return, sponsors get the opportunity to connect with next generation of leaders in innovation and engineering design. It is a win-win for all involved.


Are you Interested in learning more about being a Design Day sponsor? Contact Nathan Scott ( or Melissa Gibbins (


Thank you to our 2020 Senior Design Sponsors! 

Army Research Lab

Claire Hur Lab, Johns Hopkins University

Space Telescope Science Institute

BOSCH Security Systems

Oceaneering Advanced Tech

Stanley Black & Decker

Blind Industries & Services of Maryland

Laboratory for Experimental Fluid Dynamics, Johns Hopkins University

Office of the Undersecretary of Defense

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory

Johns Hopkins Center for Neuroplastic Surgery




Check out past design day booklets: 








Back to top