Design and Manufacturing I (ME250, UMich)


At the University of Michigan, John Hart led and redesigned the introductory Design and Manufacturing course, ME250. ME250 teaches the creative design process, CAD and engineering drawings, basics of materials selection and mechanical elements, and prototype fabrication using machine shop tools. These topics and skills are addressed using theory and examples in lectures, and are carried through a semester-long team project involving the conceptualization, design, engineering, and fabrication of a mechanized vehicle that competes in a game at the end of the semester. Laboratory sections teach CAD modeling (SolidWorks), and machine shop skills; and include “design workshop” sessions with the instructors. During the first half of the semester, students learn to apply a rigorous design process to both quantitatively and qualitatively compare design options, and to justify their choices. After the midterm design review presentation, the students begin detailed engineering of their machine. Each team receives the same kit of materials and components, and a set of rules governs the size and capability of the machines and the parameters of the game. The course culminates in a competition held at the College of Engineering Design Expo. In Fall 2009 and 2010, the “SlotBots” contest challenged the students’ machines to dig ping-pong and squash balls out of a narrow slot in a custom-built table. The machine with the fewest balls on its side of the table after 120 seconds was declared the winner, and the contest proceeded in a single-elimination bracket until a champion was crowned. In 2011, a new contest named “BallTower” (inspired by the layout of North Campus) was featured.