Senior Design Project syllabus

ME 43: Senior Design Project, Section 01, class number 82003

Course description

A project-based hands-on mechanical engineering course.

Course goals

The goal of the Senior Design Project 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.


Brandon Stafford,

I check email in the morning.

Course assistant

Mark Endrizzi, a second-year Master's student in Mechanical Engineering

Office hours

Brandon's office hours are:

Mark's office hours are:


There will be no textbook for the class.


Most of the class will be working on a single design project in small teams. In addition, during the first few weeks of the semester, there will be three fabrication projects, scheduled as FP1-FP3 below. The point of the fabrication projects is to make sure that all of you have basic skills in engineering prototyping, because you'll need those starting around week 4.


There will be no quizzes or exams. Grades will be based on your project work.

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.)


Tu, Th 10:30-11:45 AM in , 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.


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.

Lecture plan

(New for 2019; probably not that reliable because I've only taught this class before, and I keep changing things)

Week Tuesday Thursday
1 Intro and project requirements discussion Teams due, fabrication project #1 (FP1) begins
2 Testing of FP1, discussion of iterative design and prototyping FP1 due. Meet with your team; down-selection to 2 options. FP2 assigned.
3 FP2 CAD due. Commit to project. FP2 due. FP3 assigned. Questions about proof-of-concept.
4 Proof of concept review User interviews
5 More user interviews Team discussion of user feedback
6 Prototype showcase questions
7 (no class; Monday schedule) Prototype showcase
8 -- Specification presentation, spec sheets due
9 Team work on final version Team work on final version
10 Team work on final version Final project design review
11 Team work on final version Team work on final version
12 Team work on final version Team work on final version
13 Final project due (No class: Thanksgiving)
14 Ethical choices as an engineer Job talk. Technical report due.
15 (Reading period) Final project showcase in Nolop: December 10, 4:30-6:00 PM

ABET student outcomes

The course aims to satisfy 6 of the 7 ABET student outcomes, listed below.

1. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics
2. an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors
3. an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences
4. an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts
5. an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives
6. (experimentation and data analysis outcome omitted)
7. an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies.