Physics Clinic

The Harvey Mudd College Clinic Program is a nationally recognized industry sponsored academic program centered around a multidisciplinary approach to real-world problem solving. The program consists of roughly 40 projects per year sponsored by industry, in the departments of engineering, computer science, mathematics, and physics. Since the inception of the Clinic Program over 50 years ago, approximately 1600 projects have been sponsored by almost 500 individual sponsors.

The Clinic Program presents opportunities for juniors and seniors to work on practical projects relevant to industry. The problems usually involve components of measurement, design, simulation, and analysis. Solutions arise from team efforts which integrate the broad laboratory and discipline-specific skills that characterize a Harvey Mudd College education. Students who are enrolled in the Clinic Program work in teams of four or five under the guidance of a student team leader, a faculty advisor, and a liaison from the sponsoring organization. Some projects are jointly run by two or more departments to promote cross-fertilization between fields, and to encourage application of diverse viewpoints and a variety of techniques. In addition to putting into practice the theories learned in the classroom, students must deal with the psychology of teamwork, as well as budget and schedule constraints.

Students are required to make oral presentations to public audiences and submit final written reports with any specified deliverables to the sponsoring companies. Companies currently pay a fee of $49,000 to the college to sponsor a project for one academic year. Sponsoring companies oversee the project by assigning a liaison to maintain close contact with the team. The liaison outlines the project requirements, approves the team's proposal for accomplishing the work, and receives weekly progress reports. In most cases the student team visits the sponsoring company for a midyear design review and, in many instances, provides a summary presentation to senior officials at the end of the project. The sponsor retains Intellectual Property rights. The college selects Clinic projects on the basis of the quality of the educational experience provided, as well as student interest. Evaluation of the Clinic Program is continuous and occurs in the form of student and sponsor reaction, assessment by a panel of industry-based advisors (the “Clinic Advisory Committee”), and oversight by faculty advisors and the Clinic directors.

Physics Clinic Projects