ME 170 

Stanford Mechanical Engineering Capstone

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, and health rotate through the course.

Student teams work with external organizations who provide the project, representing the user need.  If you would like to participate with the course, please see our "How to Participate" page!

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.

Cardinal Course

ME170 has been designated as a Cardinal Course by the Haas Center for Public Service

Learn more about Cardinal Courses

ME170 in the News

Research Project to continue work on brick kilns approved for Sustainability Accelerator funding as part of first round accelerator grants, under Steve Luby PI June 2022.  

Overcoming barriers to solar dryer adoption and the promise of multi-seasonal use in India Science Direct June 2022.  

Solar technology and community engagement team up to help low-income farmers in India Stanford Energy, Apr 2022.  

Stanford mechanical engineering seniors help design housing for refugees  Stanford Report Feb 2022

Turning theory into practice Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability Nov 2019.  

Upcoming Events

Week 20 Design Reviews for the 2024 class will be held on March 12 and March 14, 2024, if you are interested in attending please reach out to Jeff Wood at

We are currently accepting project proposals for the 2024-2025 year from external organizations, draft project briefs are due by July 31.   If interested, please see our How to Participate page, and we look forward to hearing from you soon!

Next class year will start on September 24, 2024. Looking forward to another great class!

Comments from our alumni

"Thank you for creating ME170.  After working for six months I think that ME170 is the single most useful class that I took at Stanford.  The randomly-assigned groups, interesting long-term projects, open-ended problem solving and getting input from myriad, sometimes contradictory backgrounds have all directly translated into skills I use on the job.  The class was structured extremely well, especially the cadence of open-ended problem solving before the organized gate reviews." 

"Receiving direction and encouragement to focus on the user's needs and think about the projected benefits, risks, and harms is something that I have greatly appreciated during my team's design and prototyping process"

"Truthfully, thank you as I really believe that ME170 was great preparation for (my role working in Ag-tech).  It was great that I was able to keep pace with my boss, who comes with years of manufacturing experience in aerospace and is savant in lean principles.  The industry tools that we were taught in class came up often and helped bridge some of the gaps in experience."

"ME170 has helped me become a more practical engineer and has taught me to always provide a valid reason for every design choice in a project.  Through the learning goals of this class, I have had some of the most rewarding experiences I have had yet at Stanford."

"ME170 has been an incredibly formative class for me because it really solidified my conception of engineering work and technical communication.  These were not emphasized in my previous coursework, and my experience in the course thus far has allowed me to frame my thinking about what I might do in the future.” 

"I just wanted to email to thank you for teaching the sustainability-focused capstone course for mechanical engineering. Prior to taking the course, I was a unaware of the many roles a mechanical engineer can have with regards to sustainable design. ME170 has both opened my eyes to opportunities to work in sustainability, and has given me the background to find such opportunities.  Thank you so much for ME170!"

"I think ME170 has been the most important class for my development as a mechanical engineer, combining knowledge [from] previous classes with new concepts like ethics in engineering, translating user to technical requirements, and fatigue analysis.  I’m also passionate about applying engineering to social and global issues, so I was excited when ME170 gave me that opportunity. "

"It was great seeing some of the concepts we learned at ME170 in my role as product manager, namely identifying problems, prioritizing user requirements, creating success criteria, and identifying failure modes.  I'm grateful for all the instruction I received from you and the rest of the ME170 team." 

"[students presenting in week 20 presentations] left me in awe of everything that the students were able to accomplish throughout two quarters. Students not only presented professionally but were also able to form well-spoken responses to questions asked about their work on the spot. ... These students continue to build on the progress of previous projects and work through complex concepts to create very intuitive and thoughtful solutions to industry problems."

"I was able to call into a portion of [week 10 presentations] on Thursday and I was so impressed. I particularly appreciate the incorporation of all aspects of project management (procurement, meeting with the customers regularly, FMEA, ethics, etc.) which were not heavily emphasized back when I took the previous version of the capstone, ME113, in 2012. As you know, a successful engineering project requires much more than “just” the engineering part"