Syllabus

Design for Fabrication syllabus #

ME 93, Design for Fabrication, Section DF-LEC, class number 23803

Course description #

Explore design thinking through a series of practical design challenges, coupled with design review by your peers and the instructor. Over the course of the semester, you will face approximately six challenges that require you, sometimes alone, sometimes as a team, to design, prototype, and fabricate working solutions. Emphasis will be placed on understanding real-world design constraints resulting from different fabrication methods, hardware selection, and material properties. An effort will be made to allow students to pursue areas of personal interest, such as mechanisms, embedded electronics, or robotics, in the context of the design challenges. Students with scant interest in fabrication are encouraged to enroll in other courses. The course will have no textbook, but there will be some expenses for materials incurred.

Course goals #

The goal of the course is to force students to gain experience with the practical challenges of building mechanical hardware. Acting as a counterbalance to the largely theory-heavy curriculum of the modern university, the course makes students work in teams with their mostly inexperienced peers, where they argue, break drill bits, and struggle with lightly documented hardware. They face engineering failure and have to recover to succeed.

Lecturer #

Brandon Stafford, brandon.stafford@tufts.edu

Course assistant #

There is no course assistant.

Office hours #

Brandon’s office hours are:

  • (We will decide on this in the first week.)

Textbooks #

There will be no textbook for the class.

Assignments #

Most of the class will be working on 5 design challenges, sometimes in small teams.

No electronics during lectures #

Generally, I need too much of your attention to allow distractions like cell phones and laptops in class. There will be rare exceptions in class, like when we’re using computers as tools for designing the stuff we’re making. If I have to remind you about this a few times, I’ll ask you to leave class. If you think this might be a problem for you, I would recommend putting your phone somewhere inaccessible during class. You should probably also think carefully about the role technology is playing in your life. (I should add that I also feel the tug of the phone, though maybe not as strongly as some of you.)

Lectures #

Tu, Th 10:30-11:45 AM in Blake, the Science and Engineering Complex, 200 College Avenue, 1st floor, Room 22, also called “Blake-Perlman Computational Studio” or “that glass room next to the cafe in the SEC.”

Project work will take place in Blake, in Nolop, and in Bray Lab.

Financial constraints #

If, for whatever reason, you cannot afford to pay for the stuff needed for this class, please let me know, either in person or via email. In virtually all cases, the Mechanical Engineering Department will pay for whatever you can’t afford; if they can’t, I will. Under no circumstances should your education suffer because you don’t have the right tools or supplies.

Honesty #

I take honesty very seriously. Not only am I required to report violations of academic integrity, I am glad to do so. We are all fortunate to be at Tufts; there is no excuse for squandering that opportunity by representing someone else’s work as your own. If you’re unsure about the details, read the Tufts Academic Integrity Policy.

Grading #

The course will be graded on the basis of a series of student-generated learning goals and assessments. Full details appear on the assessment page.

Budget #

The Department of Mechanical Engineering will cover $1000 for the class as a whole for project expenses. We will try to allocate the support to those who need it the most.

Project storage #

During the semester, you will be allocated a storage shelf in Bray, Nolop, or Blake where you can keep your projects and related materials. After the semester ends, either you can take your device back to your dorm room, or I will lovingly place it in the dumpster for you on May 10th (the day after our final showcase).

Materials and other resources available #

In addition to your project budget, we will have prototyping materials available for you to use. These will include foamcore, cardboard, lots of pink and blue foam, acrylic and aluminum. Most of this will be available in Bray or Nolop.

For those of you thinking about electromechanical solutions, I have a large collection of microcontrollers and sensors used for my electronics class; I’m happy to share that stuff as well.

A note about general resourcefulness #

Engineering is hard, and you are adults. It is fairly easy to get discouraged and think that this class is too overwhelming or unstructured. It is both of those things, but the answer is to be resourceful and resilient in the face of that adversity.

You have a great opportunity before you, in which you can try building stuff the world has never seen. You can also probably skate by without really putting your heart into it. You will get out of this class roughly what you put into it; I strongly recommend trying harder than usual.