Intellectual Property and Confidentiality

Intellectual Property

According to Penn State policy, undergraduate students own any intellectual property (IP) that they may develop as part of a course project; however, they can sign over their intellectual property rights to a sponsor if requested. 

Sponsors may request ownership rights of all intellectual property that is developed by the students during the course of the project for an additional donation of $500 to help support our administration expenses. Projects in this category require students to assign their intellectual property rights to the sponsor. In addition, sponsors who have not yet filed a patent and wish to avoid public disclosure of their invention are highly advised to also request the confidentiality agreement for their project. Sponsors should also be aware that the Design Showcase is open to the public, which may have implications on patent filing. The IP agreement must be requested upon project submission. 


In order to protect their competitive positions, industry sponsors may require each team member to sign a non-disclosure agreement as a condition for working on their project, for an additional donation of $500 to help support our administration expenses. The Confidential Information Disclosure Agreement obliges students the students to observe due diligence in protecting the confidentiality of company-provided information (data, drawings, design intent, etc.). Sponsors who have not yet filed a patent, and wish to avoid public disclosure of an invention, are advised to select this option.  To facilitate the processing of a Non-Disclosure Agreement, the Office of Sponsored Programs at Penn State requires that the sponsor is a business entity such as a corporation or partnership with an Employer ID Number (EIN) or Federal Tax ID. 

The terms of this agreement are not negotiable, and companies should consider whether this agreement is really needed in order to do a Capstone Design project. Companies should bear in mind that students working on their projects are seniors, the majority of which will graduate after the semester is over. It is not feasible for Penn State to track all of these students for five years after graduating; hence, the form has a two-year expiration date, which is also non-negotiable. Please convey this to your legal department if questions arise. The non-disclosure agreement must be requested upon project submission.

Intellectual Property AgreementLearning Factory Non Disclosure Agreement


Our mission is to help bring the real-world into the classroom by providing engineering students with practical hands-on experience through industry-sponsored and client-based capstone design projects. Since its inception, the Learning Factory has completed more than 1,800 projects for more than 500 different sponsors, and nearly 9,000 engineering students at Penn State University Park participated in such a project.

The Learning Factory

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802