MAE 404, Design of Mechanical Systems

Schedule: Monday and Friday,  1:50 - 4:30 pm

Location: 244 E1 Building

Textbook: none required, but Machine Design, An Integrated Approach, Robert L. Norton, 1998 Prentice-Hall, is handy to have available

Course Structure
This is an open-ended, design-oriented course with no lectures or exams or homework. The goals of the course are to learn open-ended problem solving, teamwork, and communications within the context of an engineering design project. You will work in teams on a design project of your own selection. Each team will meet with the instructor for one 30 minute update meeting each Monday, with other meetings as needed at the discretion of the student teams. Friday class times are reserved for the four presentations, additional meetings with the instructor as needed, or team working sessions.

Your design will be completed in four phases, as listed in the schedule below. At the completion of each phase, your team will present your interim results to the class. Requirements for each phase of the design cycle are listed in the Design Phase Requirements document. The final presentation is to include a written report summarizing the results of all four design phases.

Course Schedule
1. Needs Analysis; January 19 through February 2
2. Requirements Review; February 2
3. Synthesis; February 3 through February 23
4. Preliminary Design Review; February 23
5. Analysis; February 24 through April 13
6. Critical Design Review; April 13
7. Detail Engineering/Drawings; April 14 through May 4
8. Final Presentations; May 4

Grading Policy
Course grade will be based exclusively on the four presentations and the final report given by each team. Grade will be based on quality of the engineering solution, creativity, completeness, and how well students have learned the three goals of the course: open-ended problem solving, teamwork, and communications. Feel free to discuss solutions to these challenges in your presentations as well as engineering results.

Design Phase Requirements

In this course, we will use a four-phase design cycle. Other organizations use similar cycles, although they may differ in details.

At the conclusion of each phase, you will be required to deliver an oral presentation to the class and the instructor. Your presentation will be judged by both the instructor and the rest of the class.  At the end of the semester, you will deliver a written report of the results of all four phases, and answer questions about your decisions and processes. Below are described what you must accomplish and present for each phase.

Phase I: Needs Analysis
During this phase, you will investigate and determine the functional requirements for your design. This phase does not investigate solutions to the problem, it only focuses on precisely detailing the actual requirements, in terms of loads, user needs, usage environments, quality, safety, reliability, maintainability, cost to produce, market price, etc. Also include a validation plan for determining if your final design has met the requirements. The final output of this effort is called a Requirements Definition Document, and you will present it in your Requirements Review presentation.

Phase II: Synthesis
In this phase, you will explore as many options as possible for satisfying the requirements determined in the previous phase. The word synthesis means creating or putting together, so focus on dreaming up the broad approaches that might accomplish the goals. Start by exploring as many options as possible, in a non-judgmental manner. Feel free to go nuts. You should have at least four totally different approaches, preferably more. Then, when you have run out of ideas, start assessing them for the probability of meeting the requirements, and select your winning approach. Document why you selected that approach over the others. The final output of this phase is called the Conceptual Design, and you will present it in your Preliminary Design Review presentation.

Phase III: Analysis
In this phase, you will fill in the details of your winning concept and determine exactly how it will be implemented. You will apply hard-core engineering analysis and design techniques to ensure that your product is properly designed to meet all requirements. The word analysis means to take apart, so dissect your design piece by piece, finding all internal stresses and loads, and making sure that all components and materials are sufficiently designed and selected. The output of this phase is called the Detailed Design, and you will present it in your Critical Design Review presentation.

Phase IV: Detail Design/Drawings
In this phase, you will create the documentation that will enable the rest of your company to produce your design. This will primarily include detailed assembly drawings of each component, subassembly, and final assembly, but may also include parts lists, special fixturing needs, or special material processing as necessary. The philosophy to take in developing this documentation is this: assume that your entire team will be promoted to another area of the company due to your excellent work, and others will only have your documentation left to work from in moving on to manufacturing engineering and production. The output of this phase is called the Engineering Package, and you will present it during your Final Presentation. You will also deliver a formal written report at the time of the Final Presentation documenting the results of all four phases.

Other Stuff:

How to prepare a slide presentation

How to run an effective meeting

Back to Main Page