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Sponsored By (Updated 12/15/15)

Companies sponsoring college courses related to their field and industry.

Photo of DFA NYU

Written by

This idea emerged from a brainstorming during our OpenIDEO meetup at NYU on November 5, which involved students from NYU and other schools in the city, as well as some young professionals.

Companies have a lot of issues and problems that they are not able to solve due to lack of time and human resources. What if they presented these problems to college students to solve and in return paid for one of their courses?

For example, an automobile company could present real-world problems for Mechanical Engineering students and ask them to develop solutions during their Senior Design course. In return, this company would pay for the course.

This program could benefit students, companies and universities.


Besides having the cost of their education reduced, students would have the opportunity to have hands-on experience and learn through real-world problems. Furthermore, this is a chance for them to learn employable skills and to network with professionals.

At the end of the courses, the students can show their projects and skills to companies.


Besides having some of their problems solved, this is an opportunity for universities to have students trained in the skills that they need. So, instead of having to give trainings to new employees, the company could sponsor courses related to these skills.

Furthermore, the companies would get to know students. This would make the recruiting process more effective and efficient.


Establishing contacts with companies is a good way for university to guarantee students placement in the job market and consequently to improve their reputation. This could be an alternative for career fairs.



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Name: Austin 

Age: 22 years-old

Profession: Student

Austin is a senior mechanical engineering student. He is a good student and has good grades, but he hasn't had a lot of opportunities to do many internships. His studies demanded him a lot of time. He will graduate next semester and he feels unsure about going to the job market. He feels he hasn't enough experience.



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One day Austin receives an email from his advisor about a course opportunity in which he will be able to have hands-on experience. This course will involve solving a real-world problem proposed by Ford. The course will be paid by the company, so he will also receives a discount on his tuition fee. 


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Austin decides to enroll on the "Sponsored By" course. Since there were more students than spots available, the students were selected by their previous professors. Austin was one of the students chosen, so he receives a discount on his tuition fee.


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Austin then attends the first class of the "Sponsored By" course in which an employee from Ford present for the students a challenge about how to improve driver's safety. The speaker informs students that they will work on team for this project and each team will have a professional mentor.


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Over the semester, Austin and his team work on their idea. They do research, talk with drivers and build a prototype. 


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At the end of the semester, Austin and his team present their idea to the Ford employees and they love it. 


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Because of his project, Austin receives a job offer from Ford. He will analyze it and compare with other offers. Austin feel much more prepared to start working.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We've talked with students and received positive feedback about the idea. According to them, it would be great to have more experience before graduating. We also presented the idea to a NYU professor, who is willing to help us to pilot it next Fall (which means designing the program this Spring). He also talked briefly about the idea with some companies and they were interested in participating in the project. Next steps include writing a formal proposal to NYU and to potential sponsors.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Have you heard of similar programs? What assumptions are we making that we might want to test? Any other ideas on how we could prototype our idea?

This idea emerged from

  • An OpenIDEO meetup


Join the conversation:

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Hi DFA NYU team, you might want to check this idea. The model is slightly different but it might be inspiring as the goal is somewhat similar:

I'm also wondering if you've been thinking of issues around credits. Can this be a capstone project or maybe an internship incorporating some mentorship? Curriculum design is difficult and more difficult is the creation of new courses (e.g. in NY, you need to go through an approval process by NY States which is quite lengthy). There might be ways to think of this as a credit granting experience but not a course per se. Also did you have a chance to test whether students want credits for the experience or the experience and building a portfolio is enough? Good luck!

Photo of DFA NYU

Hi Anne-Laure Fayard ! Thank you very much for your feedback and for sharing Aaron Wilson-Ahlstrom post. It provided some great insights for our team. 

We have been thinking about the issues around credits. The suggestion of the Professor that we talked is to this be a capstone project or some elective. It seems that undergraduate students have some "extra" credits that are very flexible. We haven't thought about it as an internship. But, this might be an option too. 

We haven't tested whether students want credits for the experience or the experience and building a portfolio is enough. Since our final goal is to reduce the costs of college, we assumed that the students would receive credits. But, we should certainly test this assumption. Thank you for bringing this up. 

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