home > Industry & Employers > Sponsor Employees, Research & Projects > SDM Core Integrated Team Projects

The integrated team project is part of a nine-month core course on the foundations of systems architecture (SA), systems engineering (SE) and project management (PM). In these projects, teams dive deeply into the design and management of particular technologically enabled systems. These team projects run for 4 months, beginning in January and finishing in May. 

Sponsoring an MIT SDM Spring Project is an opportunity to work with a team of experienced technical professionals as they apply the principles, methods, and tools they are learning from the SDM Core.  This can serve as a means to kick-start a new program within your company, investigate a new technology, gain in-depth feedback on a current program, or even be an avenue for experienced internships and full-time hires.  Additionally, you gain access to the MIT SDM community; providing opportunities to develop relationships beyond the project that could extend to other projects, research, and SDM engagements. There is no fee for companies to pitch a challenge or to sponsor a spring project.

We encourage industry and government sponsors to prepare a proposal, pitch to our students, and support the student teams as they work on these projects. 

The proposal should regard a solution-neutral problem rather than an anticipated solution. Not all proposals are selected. Students vote on their preferred proposals, and those rankings are used to form teams of 4 to 5 students. In 2020, 25 of 36 challenges were selected.

Types of Projects

Projects must involve a technical system to be designed and developed by the students. There is flexibility in the types of challenges that make good projects and we will work with sponsors to refine proposals. Potential options include:

  • Bringing a promising new cutting-edge technology from the lab to market 
  • Enhancing an existing product by infusing one or more new technologies
  • Proposing a next-generation architecture or assessing threats to the dominant design
  • Investigating a troubling or dysfunctional product and suggesting significant improvements

Projects should be non-trivial and involve a complex technical system with significant societal, technological or programmatic challenge. Projects should have a non-obvious answer: projects supporting existing designs with no decision at stake will be less likely to be adopted.  Consulting projects, business models, organizational design, process improvement, and portfolio pruning projects are not acceptable proposals at this time.

Sponsor Commitment

Each team will coordinate with MIT and sponsor mentors for regular dialogue and guidance. 

Students are expected to spend approximately half of their out-of-class time (5 hours each week) on team project activities. 

Sponsors are expected to spend a minimum of 24 hours supporting the project:

  • 4 hours preparation during the fall term and pitching the project on January 10, 2022
  • 1 hour per week supporting students during the term (16 hours total)
  • 4 hours to view final presentations, assess and provide feedback on May 9-10, 2022

At the final presentations, each team will deliver a presentation and executive memo that summarize their results and recommendations. The presentation from each team must exhibit the framing, design, analysis, and future recommendations for their system including architecture, systems engineering, and project management.  A schedule and evaluation criteria for the projects are available in the project proposal guide, linked below. Sponsors are encouraged to set up a briefing by the students at the conclusion of the project in May and June of 2022.

Guidance for Sponsors

The primary role of the sponsor is to provide real-world context, review progress as requested by students, and advise on the relevance of the team’s focus – the “voice of the challenge.”  

  • Team projects are selected, managed, and ultimately delivered by the students themselves.  The students have the prerogative to choose where to focus, how to evolve, and what to deliver.  We ask that sponsors remain flexible as students explore, even if their efforts diverge from the expectations of the sponsor.
  • In a university, students may choose an unexpected path, make errors, or simply do a mediocre job earning a lower grade.  This academic liberty is important to promote ownership and motivated learning.
  • The team projects are part of a course, and thus are not sponsored research. It is not appropriate to require a contract, specific deliverable or tool, nor to require any agreement (such as a non-disclosure agreement).
  • If data is core to the project, data shall be supplied by the Sponsor, pre-packaged, and available for student team use in a university course setting, by Jan. 11, 2022.  
  • Overall, the experience for past sponsors has been very positive, including regular interaction with MIT students, insights from different ways of framing the challenge, and access to the latest techniques in SA, SE, and PM. The team project can stimulate follow-on internships, thesis work, and sponsored research with a deeper dive and research deliverables. 

Key Dates

Draft proposals do not need to be complete. All project information should be ready for delivery to the team by January 11, 2022.

Draft Proposals DueDecember 10, 2021
Integrative Project ShowcaseJanuary 10-11, 2022
MIT Spring TermJanuary 31 – May 10, 2022
Final PresentationsMay 9-10, 2022

Complete information on dates and deadlines of the project proposal and process are contained in the project proposal guide below.

Topic Submission Process

Industry, government, and other organizations are encouraged to review the Project Proposal Guide.

Submissions should be formatted as a 1-page PowerPoint slide based on the provided template.

Please use our form to submit your proposal.

If you would like to submit a proposal after December 10, please contact sdm-teamproject@mit.edu.

Information Sessions

SDM will host virtual information sessions for interested project sponsors each fall. The Q&A sessions for 2021 are:

Monday, November 29th  19:00 – 20:00

Thursday, December 2nd   09:00 – 10:00

Thursday, December 2nd   12:30 – 13:30

All times are listed in EST. To join the Q&A session, please use this Zoom link. No preregistration is required.

For specific questions, please contact the project team at sdm-teamproject@mit.edu.