ME 170 a/b is the culmination of the Mechanical Engineering BS degree at Stanford University. The 2-quarter long course sequence provides students the experience of working on teams of 3-4 students with complementary skillsets within ME, working on engineering design projects focused in themes that address the most pressing needs of human society. Themes, such as energy, transportation, sustainability and health rotate through the course.
Student teams work with external organizations who provide the project, representing the user need.
The course utilizes an iterative approach to technical need-finding, establishing design requirements, designing, prototyping, testing, and analyzing, resulting in a functional solution that meets design requirements by the end of 2 quarters.
Students learn skills in engineering design, teamwork, project management, engineering development process, and communication, while evaluating their projects for ethical, environmental, safety and health considerations.
This course has been designated as a Cardinal Course by the Haas Center for Public Service. Cardinal Courses apply classroom knowledge to pressing social and environmental problems through reciprocal community partnerships. The units received through this course can be used towards the 12-unit requirement for the Cardinal Service transcript notation.
Actively enhance the educational experience for Stanford ME students
Make the course a culmination of the BS ME degree
Cultivate societal awareness
Instill confidence that students can tackle important problems in the world
Apply what students have learned in their first 3 years to meaningful projects
Provide experience and tools needed in the workplace
Develop communication skills and professionalism
Upon completion of this sequence, students of ME 170 a/b will be able to
Deliver an engineering system addressing a real-world problem, using (1) the engineering analysis and design skills learned through the first 3 years of their undergraduate education, in conjunction with (2) the engineering design process taught in ME 170 a/b. Solutions must be tested against design requirements.
Work as part of a team to design and develop an engineering system. Students bring their technical expertise, rely on and collaborate with teammates, to engineer a system. Learn industry practices in the engineering development process, and project management skills such as Gantt charts, critical path, and budgets.
Assess the impact of engineering solutions on the world. Students will work on projects associated with pressing needs of human society, and broaden their perspectives to consider and assess ethical, sustainability, health, environmental, and societal impact of their projects.
Learn and apply professional communication skills: oral, presentation, written documentation, listening. Teams will gain training in listening, and utilize communications skills in the areas of (1) determining the specifics of the problem they are solving, (2) assessing how best to communicate the benefits of the problem they are solving and their proposed solution to non-technical audiences, while (3) developing skills for communicating complex topics to both peers and experts. Students will summarize their work in design reviews, presentations, and reports.
WHen the class is offered
In 2022-2023, ME170a and ME170b was again offered in Autumn and Winter quarters, and will remain on that schedule for all future years.
In 2021-2022, ME170a/b returned to an Autumn and Winter course sequence with students returning tot he classroom, with occasional use of online classes in the Winter quarter.
In 2020-2021, ME170 a/b was held over Winter and Spring quarters, to align with when senior-year students were on campus. Students were able to build and test their hardware in a means compliant with state, county, and university guidelines. Course instruction was conducted virtually, as were all coaching sessions. Students had the opportunity to order materials, build their systems, and test.
Students attending ME170 a/b must complete both quarters of the course sequentially in the same academic year to receive credit for either quarter.