Q: What is this course about and what can I expect to learn from it?

A: This course combines CAD techniques and strategies with design in teams. ME444 in its new form combines the right balance of hands-on-design in the lecture/workshops that complement the CAD skills learned in the labs. The focus of the course is on product design, generating and communicating design ideas, and learning to use effective tools for design (including CAD). The toy design provides a scaffold for you to learn the design process holistically. The course will concentrate on CAD on the one hand and design thinking techniques in the lectures. For computer-aided design we will use Pro/ Engineer Wildfire 5.0 in the laboratory. Your understandings from the lecture and from the lab are brought together in the form of a toy design project. The lectures and workshops will directly contribute to the toy design while inspiring you to enjoy and have fun in this class while you learn through work!
In addition, a basic understanding of Finite-Element Analysis is covered, with an introduction to Computer-Aided Engineering tools like ANSYS and Pro/FEM.
Thus, through this course, you will:
1. Learn fundamentals of product design and ideation
Concept generation techniques
Design Thinking
Sketching for Design
Design for X (manufacturing, assembly, etc.)
2. Learn fundamentals of CAD systems
Gain advanced knowledge of, and experience with, CAD for designing mechanical systems via Pro/ENGINEER
– hands-on demonstrations and tutorials
– on-line CAI system (COACH)
– design and build team project (the action toy)
Gain experience with rapid prototyping
Learn fundamentals of finite element analysis (FEA)
Gain experience with FEA using ANSYS and Pro/FEM
3. Integrate CAD knowledge into the product design process

Q: Are we really starting the semester with a lab session?

A: In a word, yes. The course schedule is:
One lecture per week, ME 1130 (Gatewood wing), Tuesday 12:30 PM to 1:20 PM.
Two labs per week, in two batches, in ME 3021 (third floor computer lab):
Batch 1: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:30 AM to 10:20 AM
Batch 2: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30 AM to 12:20 AM. Due to this scheduling, you will be starting the semester with a lab session, starting Aug 21st, at either 08:30 AM or 10:30 AM depending on what batch you are in.

Q: Do I need prior knowledge of any CAD software to do well in the course?

A: No, you are not required to have learned any CAD software before taking this course. However, this being a 400-level course, it is typical for some students to have exposure to other CAD systems. Our aim here is to help you understand the fundamental aspects of design as well as CAD systems, so that you can quickly pick up any CAD system in the future.

Q: What is the general structure of the course, and how can I get maximum benefit from it?

A: As mentioned earlier, the lecture sessions concentrate on product design, with an emphasis on toy design. The laboratory sessions will concentrate on CAD. The lab sessions will usually include a demonstration by the instructor, followed by specific lessons from COACH that you need to practice individually. The instructors and TAs will be available throughout the lab for help and clarification of concepts you will be learning. You are required to ensure you keep up to the COACH schedule handed to you at the beginning of the semester, and this may require you to put in a few extra hours of work on your own at the CAD terminal, apart from your assignments.

Q: What am I expected to deliver through the course of the semester?

A: There will be intermittent assignments, check problems, and quizzes, most of which will relate to creating CAD models under specific constraints, while some will relate to techniques for ideation and creativity that you are exposed to in the lectures. The final set of assignments, check problems, and quizzes will focus on FE Analysis. A significant part of your grade will also depend on the toy design project that you will work on with your team. Details of the project will be provided in the lectures, but in essence, it involves coming up with an idea for a toy, generating concepts, modeling it in CAD, and using the CAD to construct a demonstrable physical prototype. While the project is a team effort, your individual contribution will be monitored by the instructors and will count towards your grade.

Q: Will I have access to Pro/E and Coach outside the lab hours?

A: Pro/E is available in all the ME computer labs, but COACH is a limited-license software and is available only on the terminals in ME 3021. However, the room is reserved only during the ME 444 lab sessions, and is open for all otherwise.