Inside Scoop
Hands-on Experience from Day 1

Experience outside the classroom is something R.B. Annis School of Engineering students learn as early as freshman year. That’s just one of several unique aspects of the engineering program at the University of Indianapolis.

The program centers on the DesignSpine curriculum, an innovative structure that provides students with valuable networking and skill-building opportunities with Indiana-based businesses. Regional companies like Easterseals Crossroads Industrial Services and Citizens Energy Group are benefiting from the collaboration that taps into students’ expertise, from product design to testing and implementation.

Students form interdisciplinary teams–including software, mechanical and industrial concentrations–working collectively to tackle a singular problem. They face real-life projects starting with each problem requiring them to apply industry standards, project management, research, entrepreneurship and leadership skills to find solutions.

Three student teams recently participated in DesignSpine projects and presented their work to corporate clients, including an assistive auto-cutter for Easterseals Crossroads Industrial Services and a water wagon for Citizens Energy Group. Another project was a custom orthosis for the University’s School of Occupational Therapy.

Students learn:

  • Six sigma design
  • Project management
  • Research methods
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership

“We are very pleased with our partnership with UIndy and the student-led team from the R.B. Annis School of Engineering. Their thoughtful approach to the Water Wagon project incorporated Continuous Improvement methodologies, which Citizens was encouraged to see as part of the process,” said Jessica Castellanos, Citizens Energy Group.

Jeff Gore, Easterseals Crossroads Industrial Services, praised the students’ professionalism as they tackled real-world manufacturing issues.

“The group was always professional and timely in reporting on their progress. When faced with a challenge, they went back and looked at other options until they came up with some good ideas and design that could be useful in the future,” Gore said.

The DesignSpine curriculum follows the Design for Six Sigma’s customer-oriented development process, recognized by businesses worldwide, which reinforces the concepts of customer focus and “designing it right the first time” to avoid expensive consequences later. Students are challenged to identify metrics such as quality, delivery, cost and optimization of designs.

Learn more about UIndy’s engineering degrees at

UIndy Students Showcase Work to Corporate Clients

“The skills we have been learning applied to every aspect of the project. I used them when I was communicating to the client, when we were thinking about the problem and how we went about solving the problem. The most valuable lesson I learned from this project and throughout the program is that not everything will work the first time, the second, maybe even the third time, and you can’t lose hope on that aspect of the project. You just have to work through it until you get it right.” – Jake Braumbaugh ’20, mechanical engineering


“The DesignSpine program guided us through the steps to create a new product from start to finish. The R. B. Annis School of Engineering has already provided a lot of skills to sophomores that students at most other schools would not experience until their senior year.” – Allison Zwickl ’20, software engineering 

“I’ve learned countless lessons throughout this project. The most important is that things don’t always go as you had planned, but you have to revise and keep moving forward. None of this would have even been possible if it weren’t for the astounding faculty and our clients at Citizens Energy Group.” – Kinsey West ’20, industrial & systems engineering