ENGS 21:  Objectives & Expectations

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This course will facilitate your ability to:

  • -   Identify a societal need, determine the magnitude of the problem and quantify the specifications for a solution that include technical, economic, ethical, environmental, legal and other requirements.

  • -   Use engineering problem solving methods to generate a set of alternative solutions, use the matrix system to select the alternative that appears most viable, and then design a component, system, or process to implement the alternative.

  • -   Apply science and mathematics to describe the problem, analyze potential solutions and evaluate the final design.

  • -   Design and conduct experiments to assess the viability of a proposed solution; analyze and interpret the resulting data.

  • -   Use modern engineering tools (e.g. computer-aided design, rapid prototyping) in the design process.

  • -   Work effectively on a multidisciplinary team and negotiate group dynamics.

  • -   Evaluate and appropriately act upon ethical issues that influence the engineering process.

  • -   Communicate effectively through written and verbal reports and improve your oral presentation skills.

  • -   Begin the practice of life long learning through an analysis of new technology.

To fulfill these objectives you will be pursuing a nine-week design and prototyping project as a member of a student design team. The specific field of the project changes each time the course is taught. Your team must respond to a Request for Proposals (RFP) from a fictional foundation, The Dartmouth Educational Foundation (DCEF). This spring the area of interest of the DCEF is "Timesaving Technology". The RFP follows.


Time Saving Technology


The Dartmouth College Educational Foundation (DCEF) requests proposals for the design and development of ingenious and innovative devices, systems and processes that save time when people perform tasks in the home, at work or school, or while traveling or recreating. The engineered solution ideally will impact the status quo by modifying or displacing an existing device or technology, or by introducing an entirely new concept. Novel applications of an existing technology to a new problem also have the potential to produce innovative solutions.

The idea for the proposed solution must start with a compelling need of a target user or consumer group of the team's choosing. Although the need might be clearly articulated by the target group, revolutionary inventions more typically arise when the inventor recognizes the need for a device that users are unaware of, simply because longstanding practices and established ways of doing things have a tendency to obscure better ways. Such needs and their solutions are considered to be "hiding in plain site" , but their discovery requires a fresh perspective (cf. figure).

The success of the solution in meeting its specifications and design objectives must be measurable. Thus the timesaving attribute of the engineered solution must demonstrably save time! Testing the solution and assessment of its commercial viability -- not necessarily constrained by immediate profitability -- are also key elements of the project. The DCEF has a broad perspective and will consider proposals to fund projects in virtually any area, provided the proposed research and development stem from a compelling need of a locally accessible user group. Successful solutions are "sourced from people who know the problem space intimately" and who bring enlightened engineering design to bear on a problem of larger scope.  In effect, design teams should think globally but design locally in identifying and implementing options that will produce timesaving developments.





Each team will be expected to:

1.      Identify and select a problem that entails engineering timesaving technology;

2.      Determine and quantify the magnitude of the problem;

3.      Determine the specifications associated with a satisfactory solution;

4.      Generate a set of potential alternative approaches;

5.      Select a novel approach and evaluate the market for the solution.


During the term, you will also be expected to:

6.      Engineer and develop a prototype that satisfies the required specifications;

7.      Test the prototype;

8.      Develop a venture proposal;

9.      Present the prototype and venture proposal to the Review Board.



The DCEF has brought together a Review Board to assess and evaluate your efforts. The Review Board will meet three (3) times to hear team presentations during the term and to evaluate team performance. These presentations include: your proposal, progress report and final presentation. Professor William Lotko will evaluate and grade your written work for each of these reports. A written "White Paper" must also be submitted in the third week, prior to develop of your proposal. The schedule for the reports and presentations follows:

April 11


White Paper due in class

5 pg. limit, double spaced, 12 pt font, 1" margins; 2 stapled copies, 1 3-hole-punch loose copy


April 15


One-page Executive Summary of Proposal due Sunday 11 pm

Email to kim.cooper@dartmouth.edu. Include Group # in filename!

April 16


Oral Presentation of Proposal to the DCEF Review Board (A Groups)

April 17


Written Proposal due by noon in team mailbox in 217 Cummings

10 pg. limit plus appendices, double spaced, 12 pt font, 1" margins

2 stapled or bound copies, 1-3 hole punch loose copy

April 18


Oral Presentation of Proposal to the DCEF Review Board (B Groups)


May 6


One-page Executive Summary of Progress Report due by 11 PM

Email to kim.cooper@dartmouth.edu. Include Group # in filename!

May 7


Oral Presentation of Progress Report to the DCEF Review Board (B Groups)

May 8


Written Progress Report due by noon in team mailbox in 217 Cummings

15 pg. limit plus appendices, double spaced, 12 pt font, 1" margins, 3 stapled or bound copies

May 9


Oral Presentation of Progress Report to the DCEF Review Board (A Groups)

May 15


Revised Written Progress Report due in class

15 pg. limit plus appendices, double spaced, 12 pt font, 1" margins

2 stapled or bound copies, 1 3-hole-punch loose copy


May 28


One-page Executive Summary of Final Report due by noon

Email to kim.cooper@dartmouth.edu. Include Group # in filename!

May 29



Final Written Report due by 3 PM in your ENGS 21 mailbox in 217 Cummings

20 pg. limit plus appendices, double spaced, 12 pt font, 1" margins

2 bound copies, 1 3-hole-punch loose copy

May 30


Oral Presentation of Final Report to the DCEF Review Board




William Lotko, Professor, Course Director

Kevin Baron, Director Machine Shop Design Lab, Thayer School of Engineering

Carrie Fraser, Assistant Dean for Thayer School, Academic and Student Affairs

Peter Robbie, Professor, Thayer School of Engineering

Ulrike Wegst, Professor, Thayer School of Engineering


The course director in consultation with the Review Board and Teaching Assistants assigns grades. Each group will be required to assess its own performance; the results will be incorporated into the overall evaluation.


Professor Lotko is available in Room 217B most of the time or by appointment to answer questions on organization, presentation, content, resources, team issues, design decisions, etc. throughout the duration of the course. You should avail yourself of the resources listed in the course circular entitled Project Support Services and, as appropriate, work with the main course consultants (Mr. Kevin Baron, Ms. Mary Kay Brown, Dr. Daniel Cullen, Mr. Doug Fraser, Mr. Terry Priestley, Prof. Chris Levey and Prof. Peter Robbie) during the term.



You will be working as a member of a team throughout this course. You need to ensure that the written works reflect only the efforts of your team and that you reference all sources using the methods described in the Dartmouth circular, Sources and Citation at Dartmouth College.



The grading will be by team, not individual, although, at the conclusion of the course, there will also be an opportunity to reward outstanding individual performances and penalize individual negligence or laziness, based on individual effort and productivity.


The weights of course elements in the overall course grade are as follows:


White Paper (team)


Proposal (team)


Progress Report (team)


Final Report (team)


Participation, Team Notebook



The grade on each report except the White Paper is based equally on oral and written work. The quality of record keeping in the lab notebook and the weekly group meetings with the TA and Tech Instructor during the Tools & Techniques Sessions constitute 5% of the team grade (see below).

In addition to the team grade, and the possibility of adjusting an individual’s grade based on unusual individual performance on the team project, students who faithfully attend class, provide thoughtful peer critiques, and demonstrate exceptional engineering skill development may acquire a bump in grade in borderline cases. Students who do not participate regularly will see a downward slide in their grade in such cases.



Each team will be provided with a Thayer Wiki page and a project notebook to record its progress. This log will be the basis for discussion of both group and individual performance at the weekly meetings with the student advisors. The notebook must be updated at least once per week and should be reviewed and initialed each week by the group TA. The Lab Notebook will be reviewed by Professor Lotko at the end of the course for completeness including summaries for each team meeting, action items for next meeting, review of completion of action items at next meeting, record of design development ideas and implementation, test results and survey results.



Each team will be expected to meet weekly during its scheduled Tools & Techniques Session with its assigned Tech Instructor and student advisor (TA). Additional meetings with the group TA are helpful as the project progresses. The Tools & Techniques sessions will provide students with opportunities to become familiar with design techniques, materials and fabrication methods, sensors and actuators, rapid prototyping, and testing and instrumentation. In consultation with its TA, each team should assess its performance and productivity regularly with the objective of improving both.



Each team will meet at least twice per quarter with Professor Lotko to discuss team performance and overall progress on the project.

The Couch Project Design Lab, Room M009/014 off the Atrium, has been assigned as the project space for this course. The Lab is staffed by a TA when it is open.