Intro to Engineering Systems Design and Development

Principal Investigator
Prof. Douglas Hart, Mechanical Engineering; Mr. Peter Godart, Mechanical Engineering
Fund: Alumni Class Funds
Funding Period: AY2020
Department/Lab/Center: Mechanical Engineering

The class proposed here will inspire first-year undergraduates to engage with high-level, complex engineering systems early in their education via collaboration with junior and senior mechanical engineering students. First-years interested in mechanical engineering will be paired with students in a capstone design class, enabling them to see firsthand how complex and open-ended problems in mechanical engineering are solved. This pilot class will be taught alongside 2.014, a well-established capstone design/build class typically reserved for juniors and seniors in which student-led teams are paired with industry sponsors who fund complete solutions to real problems. As an example, previous projects have included high energy-density power systems for autonomous underwater vehicles and drones, an autonomous ship-cleaning robot, a novel aluminum-water battery chemistry, and most recently a BMW i3 electric vehicle that runs on recycled aluminum and water. In this interaction, first-years will work alongside more experienced students, aiding in the fabrication, documentation, and testing phases of the final system design. In return for their mentorship, 2.014 students also receive additional help with completing their project, affording them more time to focus on the more complex design and analysis work. The addition of this proposed class will improve the mentorship of first-years by students in their potential major, foster a collaborative learning environment for all students, and improve the quality of the projects the students produce. Additionally, students in this class will be able to explore mechanical engineering in a way that will help them decide whether or not they want to pursue a degree in this field, thereby improving their satisfaction with the education they receive at MIT on the whole.