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Case Study for Introductory Mechanical Design Competitions

[+] Author Affiliations
Daniela Faas, Robert D. Howe

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Paper No. DETC2015-47286, pp. V003T04A020; 4 pages
  • ASME 2015 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 3: 17th International Conference on Advanced Vehicle Technologies; 12th International Conference on Design Education; 8th Frontiers in Biomedical Devices
  • Boston, Massachusetts, USA, August 2–5, 2015
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5710-6
  • Copyright © 2015 by ASME


Freshman/sophomore design projects provide students with hands-on experiences in conceptual design and manufacturing. For some of these courses, a design competition is used to teach the design and construction components. These competitions are often reused from semester to semester, so the students typically suffer from design fixation. When design competition tables are erected new every single semester, it requires advanced planning and high budgets. This paper discusses a case study of a different structure for introductory design courses and competitions at Harvard. We summarize a yearlong effort to improve an existing early design competition with more machine component elements and linkage design. The goal of a interchangeable design competition was to prevent design fixation while at the same time providing boundaries for students to successfully implement their robot designs, independent of their previous mechanical engineering exposure.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME



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