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Frequently Asked Questions


Why should I take this course?
What are the prerequisites?
Is this a new course?
How is this course different from ME 450?
Do I need ME Undergraduate Advisor approval?
What about other prerequisites not listed? Like Math?
What if I am not an ME student?
What if I am a graduate student?
Can I take the course for 3 credits if I am a senior?
Is it more, or less, work than ME 450?
How large will the class be?
What projects can I do?
How do we select projects and are they sponsored?
Will we use the prototyping shops?
Will we have a project budget?
Will we use software tools?
What will make a successful project?

 

Why should I take this course?

You should consider taking this course if you are a senior interested in the design of products that interact with people. If you want to take a serious look at methods from other fields (like art, industrial design, ergonomics, marketing, economics, and psychology) and explore how they can be used in the design process, that's a course for you. [GoToTop]

What are the prerequisites?

Senior standing. You can take the course as a 4-credit alternative to ME 450, which means you must satisfy the same prerequisites as for ME 450, i.e., ME 250, 350, 395. You can also take it as a 3-credit tech elective (see more below). [GoToTop]

Is this a new course?

It was taught in F2003 and F2004. It will have a permanent number (ME455) sometime this year, maybe even by Fall '05. [GoToTop]

How is this course different from ME 450?

The course offers a ”senior capstone design experience” similar to that in ME 450. However, it emphasizes an analytical approach to design that encompasses tools from non-engineering disciplines that bear on design. Also, prototyping work is done earlier in the semester, so that the lessons learned from physical prototyping can be used along with analysis to inform the final design decisions and/or develop more detailed final virtual prototypes. Another difference is that the projects deal with designs of products rather than pure mechanical systems like, say, engines. [GoToTop]

Do I need ME Undergraduate Advisor approval?

The ME UG Advisor needs to make sure you have met the ME450 prerequisites if you wish to take this course as an alternative to ME450, since then it will count as a core course. That's it. [GoToTop]

What about other prerequisites not listed? Like Math?

The course uses analytical modeling methods from decision analysis, engineering science, economics, human factors, and marketing. You do not need background in all these areas, but you need the basic math that engineers learn in freshman and sophomore years. Some statistics would be useful, too, but you can pick it up as the methods are discussed. [GoToTop]

What if I am not an ME student?

The course is open to all seniors in engineering, and actually even outside engineering, like Art & Design. Such students are welcome and can provide diversity in the project team composition. Allowances will need to be made for such diversity of backgrounds when teams are formed. Contact the instructor directly for more questions on this. [GoToTop]

What if I am a graduate student?

Any graduate student (ME or otherwise) can enroll in ME 599 for 3 credits. You will do the same project work, plus some extras, like developing a specific design tool, instead of just using what is learned in class. [GoToTop]

Can I take the course for 3 credits if I am a senior?

Yes, you can take it as a tech elective for 3 credits. The main reason you would want to do that is if you have already taken ME 450, in which case the extra credit is counted as “overlap” and not allowed. You could also take the course for only 3 credits if you do not perform any prototyping work. In practice, this is an unlikely scenario for most projects. [GoToTop]

Is it more, or less, work than ME 450?

No. [GoToTop]

How large will the class be?

We have put a limit of 25 seniors. There will also be a few graduate students taking the course under ME599. [GoToTop]

What projects can I do?

Projects must have a direct relation to an intended product user and a product producer, who will inform design decisions. For example, if you are interested in designing a valvetrain for an engine, this would probably not be a suitable class. Past projects include helmets, medical devices, health products, solar and fuel cell systems for buildings, assistive devices for special population groups, can openers, cribs, car seats, cup-holders and more. An automotive clutch might be a suitable project if you want to include designing for the right “feel,” cost, and market. [GoToTop]

How do we select projects and are they sponsored?

You will be asked to form teams based on your common interests and complementary skills. You will not be assigned a sponsored project. Although there may be some sponsored projects, you can select your own project idea, as long as there is a team that wants to do it and it fits into the course goals and philosophy. [GoToTop]

Will we use the prototyping shops?

Yes, the usual ME machine shops and prototyping space will be available. You will need the usual shop safety certification before you are allowed in the shops. [GoToTop]

Will we have a project budget?

Yes, and it will be the same for all projects, whether they are sponsored or not. [GoToTop]

Will we use software tools?

Yes, typically Excel will be the basic environment. However, MATLAB, various CAE tools, and statistical analysis packages have been used in the past. [GoToTop]

What will make a successful project?

The final deliverable is an actual business plan grounded on a semester's worth of analysis, user surveys, prototyping, and computing. If you can show whether a compelling case can be made to produce (or not produce) the product, you have succeeded. [GoToTop]

 



 
 
 

 

   
 

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