Innovation Capstone

Request For Proposal (RFP) and Project Proposal Instructions for the DCTC Innovation Capstone Cadre

The Acquisition Innovation Research Center (AIRC) is requesting proposals for “Innovation Capstones” from all accredited universities in the U.S. as part of the inaugural DCTC Innovation Capstone Cadre.

Innovation Capstones

Innovation Capstones are project-based learning environments for university undergraduate and graduate students. They are similar to senior design and “capstone” projects conducted at most universities, however, Innovation Capstones will engage students across all majors – business, science, policy, engineering, law, and beyond, to form full multidisciplinary project teams. These Innovation Capstone teams will work on challenging problems/projects of interest from a broad set of stakeholders in the Department of Defense (DOD). Teams will use “whole of business” and “whole of government” approaches to develop their solutions. In some cases, student teams and their research topics may be entirely “business” or “policy” in nature. The intent of Innovation Capstones is to broaden the scope of traditional technical developments in areas important to national defense, by augmenting teams with students and faculty who can address team organization, scheduling, financing, and overall business and management skills necessary to introduce new products and capabilities into DOD systems.

Eligibility — Universities and Students

AIRC’s Innovation Capstones will only be awarded to universities where participating faculty and students are “U.S. Persons”.

Proposals may be accepted, and Innovation Capstone subcontracts awarded to all accredited universities in the U.S.

Undergraduate and graduate students may participate.

Types of Project Teams and Statements of Work

There are at least three pathways for Innovation Capstone projects that combine the skills of students from all majors – working in Business and Management disciplines as well as in traditional technical and engineering areas. Each team should have 2 or more distinct academic disciplines represented.

As the DCTC Innovation Capstone Cadre is a new concept, other capstone team and faculty arrangements may be proposed.  

Option 1 — Integrated Team

Each Innovation Capstone team integrates both technical and management students and their activities into a single team during the project period. Each project team will develop their products and present a complete business plan, documenting the necessary government actions to transition work into a supported DOD program. A detailed Statement of Work will be required, including descriptions of deliverables. A single AIRC subcontract will be awarded for the team, with a total subcontract ceiling of $10K.

Option 2 — Separate Tech and Business Teams

Each Innovation Capstone project will be separated into two efforts– a technical team and a business team. Each team will have separate Statements of Work with specific deliverables. Both the tech and the business teams must be “full” teams; multidisciplinary teamwork is a capstone objective. Each technical and management student team will receive a separate AIRC subcontract, with a total subcontract ceiling of $10K per team.

Option 3 — Matrixed Management Team

Multiple Innovation Capstone teams will be established to develop prototype solutions, generally technical in nature, that are necessary to meet the objectives of each of the project topics. In addition, a single group of management students will form a separate “management team” that will be responsible for overall coordination of the other project teams. Each technical team will have at least one management student matrixed to that team. Each technical team and the single management team will receive separate AIRC contracts. The matrixed management team will be responsible for business and other management details of all the technical teams; these products will be specified as additional deliverables in the management team’s Statement of Work. Each technical team and the matrixed management team will receive a separate AIRC subcontract with a subcontract ceiling of $10K per team.

Government Capstone Partners

As early as possible, universities should identify appropriate DOD partners from Service Components, laboratories, development centers, acquisition organizations, etc. for each capstone team. DOD partners can offer challenging problems and can provide Subject Matter Experts (SME) for capstone teams on a collaborative basis. These SMEs assist student teams throughout the Academic Year, and provide subject mentoring, coaching, and critiques during team meetings and project reviews.

Proposal Coordination

AIRC requires a proposal from universities for each student team, with distinct deliverables, as described in “Types of Project Teams” detailed above. There are no restrictions on the number of topics and awards that can be made to a single university. Student teams may vary in size and composition according to the scope and complexity of the projects. Team composition must reflect balance in students’ workload, required knowledge, skills, and responsibilities. Collaborative and/or competitive efforts between different universities, on project topics are encouraged.

Period of Performance and Schedules

Innovation Capstones will generally be two semester efforts. Innovation Capstones start in the Fall Semester; however, some may start in Spring Semester, or during Summer sessions. AIRC’s funds awarded to the 2023 Innovation Capstone Cadre will expire on July 30, 2024.

Contracts, Funding Ceilings, Restrictions

Each AIRC Innovation Capstone subcontract will be issued by Stevens Institute of Technology (SIT) as a Firm Fixed Price award to a university, for a specific project and a single student team. A Statement of Work will describe high level project objectives and team deliverables. The funding for each project team will have a ceiling of $10K. Direct labor charges will be allowed subject to university policy.


University business offices may invoice SIT for Innovation Capstone projects at the conclusion of their two semesters’ work, or when the contract deliverables are satisfied, as applicable.

Proposal Preparation and Submission

The proposal includes a Project Description; this section is brief and should not exceed two (2) pages in length. Other Project information sheets and budget sections do not count against this limit. The proposal template gives guidance on other details such as faculty involvement, multidisciplinary capstone approaches, educational techniques, laboratory, facility, and university resources, and past performances.

Universities are requested to submit project proposals to AIRC as early as possible. As most proposals are submitted before the start of the Academic Year, student teams do not have to be designated in the proposal or identified before Contract Awards.  Proposals should be submitted using the below proposal template. Proposals should be submitted using the proposal submission link on the AIRC proposal template. Documents and attachments must be submitted in MS Office applications or PDF formats using the template below.