Professional Practice Program (P3)


The College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology (ECST)  at California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State L.A.), invites corporate partners to join the ECST  Professional Practice Program (PPP). Through this program, corporate and university partnerships are established to provide highly engaging and relevant professional practice experiences for our engineering, technology and computer science students. The program aims to enhance the recruitment, retention and graduation of high potential students who are fully prepared to enter the professional workforce.  The program was established in 2008 with nine companies, and has grown since then.  We invite you to join or renew your commitment to this unique partnership program.

The Professional Practice Partnerships currently include the following components: an award winning corporate-sponsored Senior Design Project Program, the Corporate Scholars Program, and the Leadership Development Program.  Future components include a Corporate Internship Pathway and an R&D Partners Program.

Professional Practice Program Elements

1) Undergraduate Senior Design Projects: The purpose of the Senior Design Project Program is to provide students with a capstone experience in which they apply their theoretical knowledge to real applications. The program exposes students to an industry setting, where students work with a real client (the company or industry partner) to solve a client-defined problem. The result may be a physical prototype, software package, or operational algorithm. Regardless of project type, student teams are expected to meet the needs of their client, and deliver a product at the end of the academic year. Projects involve teams of four or five engineering/computer science, or technology students, a faculty advisor, and a technical liaison from the sponsoring company, working on a real customer problem for a full academic year.

The college launched the Senior Design Program in 2008 with nine corporate partners: The Aerospace Corporation, The Boeing Company, DirecTV, Heateflex, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, and Southern California Edison.  In its second and third year, the college welcomed new partners that included: EmCycle, Medtronic MiniMed, Naval Surface Warfare Center-Corona, Space Systems Loral, Southern California Gas Company, Raytheon, and the United Parcel Service (UPS).

In 2012, Cal State L.A. was awarded the prestigious Excellence in Engineering Education Collaboration Award by the Corporate Member Council of the American Society of Engineering Educators at the February 2012 ASEE/CIEC Annual Conference.  The Aerospace Corporation, the Boeing Company and Northrop Grumman Corporation were recognized as Corporate Council Members that were founding sponsors/partners of the CSULA ECST Professional Practice Program.

Several elements make these projects like an actual work experience. First, the industrial partner specifies the open-ended problem. It is a real problem that needs to be solved. Second, the team is self managed by the students.  Although there is a faculty advisor, a technical liaison, and a recognized student team leader, each student has a leadership role and the responsibility to make sure the team functions well.  This simulates many work situations. 

The team must interact with the customer weekly as they plan the project to be sure that the goals they set are relevant to the industrial problem.  They will present their plan and results in meetings with the liaison.  They will negotiate solution, timing and features. They will react to changing information as the year progresses. The skills of negotiating, project planning, presenting, adjusting to changing conditions, and writing reports are all needed in the workplace, but often are not sufficiently taught to undergraduate engineers. At CSULA, our students complete their senior year ready to hit the ground running in a business environment.

The self-sustaining exemplar Professional Practice Program has allowed the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology at CSULA to join a small but elite group of colleges and universities such as Harvey Mudd and Olin that are recognized leaders in professional practice preparation for graduating engineers. Sponsors are asked to provide funding for each project, to identify an Executive Sponsor as well as a Technical Liaison to have weekly contacts with the team. Sponsors receive full use of the results and IP produced by their student team. Funding for each senior design project requires a minimum of $25,000, and funding can be arranged as either a philanthropic grant (preferred) or as a contract.

2) Corporate Scholars Program: The objective of the Corporate Scholars Program is to establish CSULA ECST as the go-to university for recruiting the highest-potential, industry-ready engineering, technology and computer science students. Corporate Scholarship Partners are asked to contribute an annual minimum of $5,000 in scholarship funds, which will support one or more scholars, depending on the level of student need. Some of these scholarships will be used to recruit high-performing freshmen or transfer students to ECST.

The corporate scholars are selected every Spring for the following academic year. These scholars, who are part of a larger cohort of ECST scholars supported by other funds, are recognized each year, along with the donors, at a Recognition Luncheon in May. This event gives Corporate Scholarship Partners an opportunity to meet and network with the best and brightest of ECST students.

3) Leadership Development Program: This program is designed to promote leadership development and career preparation in our student organization leaders, as well as to broaden the understanding of career and leadership development for all of our students.  Corporate Partners in the Leadership Development Program are asked to contribute an annual minimum $3,000 which will support program expenditures and student organizations, including competition and conference hosting and travel.  Priority support will be given to those organizations encompassing all majors in the College: SWE, SHESS, NSBE, Tau Beta Pi, etc.

The Leadership Development program includes events each term that promote the professional development of students, including workshops, networking events and speaker series.  These include internship mixers, career awareness days, career preparation workshops, resume writing, interview skills, leadership breakfasts, career fair preparation, and Engineering Week activities. The ECST student council, comprised of students from each Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology student organization, plays a key role in developing and coordinating events, thus building leadership skills.

4) Corporate Internship Pathway: This component will be developed over the next several years, as an easier pathway for access and interviewing for corporate internships and co-ops, in partnership with the Career Center on campus.

5) R&D Partners Program: This component will be developed over the next several years, to pair graduate students and faculty research with corporate needs for R&D. This program will also seek to bring elements of entrepreneurship into the College through workshops and speakers, partnering with the College of Business and Economics.


Benefits of ECST PPP Partnership

ECST  is the only minority-serving institution (MSI) in the western United States where  60% of the enrollment in ABET-accredited engineering programs is Hispanic and African American; the majority of our students will be the first person in their family to earn a college degree.  Our College is committed to providing opportunities for our students to interact with employers throughout their time on campus; we are also committed to providing excellent and well-prepared graduates. Our PPP partners have the opportunity to establish relationships with a very talented, bright and motivated cohort of  students, and to partner with CSULA to build the next generation technical workforce for California.

For more information, please contact Ms. Lily Nguyen at

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