Course Overview


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.

Course Goals

Course objectives

Upon completion of this sequence, students of ME 170 a/b will be able to

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.