Before the project
Before submitting an expression of interest (EoI), consider if you have availability to support the project by contributing your time. This will vary from opportunity to opportunity but will typically include engaging with student(s) throughout the lifetime of the project. We ask you to consider this carefully and submit only if you can provide an appropriate level of guidance to the student(s).
You may also want to find out the knowledge students engage with as part of their degrees. This can be found under the ‘Study’ section of our website where for each of our courses, an overview and course structure are provided.
The subsections here refer to the fields we ask you to complete in the submission form.
Please provide sufficient detail on your organisation and what you do. This may be copied from marketing material and may include key products/services, industries you serve, your USP and so on. Consider that a reader may not have heard of your organisation before so do not assume any prior knowledge even if you have worked with the university for a long time or on multiple occasions. Please try to use as much of the available word space as possible.
Be descriptive and avoid vague or overly-specialist terms.
You may wish to provide some brief context such as the need for the project or the problem that you are aiming to solve. Whilst this may be a work-package within a larger programme, please concentrate on the specifics of this project rather than the larger goals, although reference to this may be appropriate. The brief forms the essence of the project description. It should be clear what is being proposed and why there is a need for it.
The outputs should be listed as achievable goals which can be fulfilled by the end of the project. It can be viewed as a checklist of desirable deliverables: if the project is to be successful, these outputs should be produced. These may include conceptual designs, detailed designs, manufacturing drawings, BoMs, analysis, modelling, simulations, recommendations, physical testing, literature review, production of parts/assemblies.
Please try to avoid replacing outputs with intended outcomes of the project IE the consequences such as the impact on sales or carbon savings but focus on the deliverables of what the students should be aiming to achieve. Depending on the size of the project, it is advisable to have no fewer than three and no more than seven outputs.
For short-term projects (such as those lasting two weeks), we actively discourage any which include the sourcing of parts from third-party suppliers during the project. Any short-term projects that are contingent upon third-party suppliers are unlikely to be looked upon favourably. If your proposed project requires parts, materials or consumables, ensure these are sourced beforehand.
Many external partners find it helpful to attach documents that may include work already done or photographs that help to show context.
During the project
You will receive confirmation if your submitted project is being progressed and will be assigned a student(s). In some cases we may modify the aims or objectives to better reflect what we believe to be reasonably achievable.
The next contact you will receive is likely to be from a student(s) to make arrangements for the initial meeting. This is a key milestone and creates the first impression for many students about your organisation, your products and even your sector. During the initial meeting will be your opportunity to provide more detail and context to the data submitted in your expression of interest as well as an opportunity to get to know the student(s) better. Some external organisations ask students to provide them with a CV to get to know them better whilst others ask students to introduce themselves as part of initial meeting. You may want to ask them about what they’re studying, have studied in the past, what they would like to do in the future, significant projects they have undertaken and what area of their studies they enjoy the most.
It is sensible at this point to agree a model of communicating, such as when progress meetings (including the close-out meeting) will take place and frequency of updates.
During the project one of the key stakeholders for the students will be the nominated contact point at your organisation. It is important for the success of the project that this individual is able to commit time over the duration of the project.
One of the questions we sometimes get asked is along the lines of “how much do I guide them and how much do I let them figure it out for themselves?” …..every project is different but those with high degrees of specificity tend to be best for students. Projects with significant vagueness tend not to be well-suited to students. The key point here is to consider what you want to get out of the project and if the students spending the first half of a project gets them to the same point you are (such as establishing market demand or completing a statement of requirements) then it might not be the most sensible use of available time.
Students will themselves manage the project and in most cases will also be formally assessed on this part of the project. For in-curricula projects, they will produce a written report which needs to demonstrate certain learning outcomes. As such, there may be parts of this report (such as team reflection or project management) which are unlikely to be of huge interest to you but are nonetheless important. You may wish to therefore pay less attention to these sections when reading the final version.
Students will submit a copy of this report to the university but are not normally required to submit additional files, such as CAD. Agreement should be reached in advance with the students on how best to share files of this nature, which may be required to pursue the project further.
After the project
Whilst the focus of these projects is on the learning that has been achieved with our students, there will no doubt be ways in which those that have guided and supported students have learned too. Reflection is a fundamental part of experiential learning and whilst we encourage students to formally reflect, we think everyone benefits from this important stage. Models are a great way of accomplishing this and the University of Edinburgh has a very accessible reflection toolkit on its website.
After the project, we will ask for your feedback, usually in the form of an evaluation. This is entirely voluntarily and participation in this assists us greatly in identifying improvements. We may also use (anonymous) data for reporting and/or recruitment of future projects. As mentioned in our FAQs, if you felt the project was successful and would be happy to have this written-up as a case study for joint promotion, do let us know. Conversely, if you are disappointed with the project and what it achieved, please get in touch with us. Please remember that we are never able to guarantee students’ outputs but we support them to be as successful as they can be.