During my masters degree process I took on leading a project with the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS). The goal was ambitious, to build a Rockoon. Lets be clear, from a practical perspective this is a downright bad way to get a rocket into space. It was however a fantastic project to get undergrads excited, and presented a range of engineering challenges.
My contribution was dealing with paperwork for the FAA, shaking down department heads for money, and getting folks the right tools do what excites them. If passionate people have the means and tools to get the project done, the rest will come naturally.