ME 450

Design and Manufacturing III


Course Concept

Undergraduate mechanical engineering students at the University of Michigan are required to work on a capstone design project near the end of their degree program. Many students choose to fulfill this requirement by taking ME 450, a course that offers the student exposure to the design process from concept generation through analysis to prototype validation.

Working in teams of typically four students, this semester-long project allows them the opportunity to apply (almost) everything they have learned from the first several years of school on an open-ended design problem.  Twice a week, students attend lectures on topics relevant to their projects (such as risk assessment, ethics, environmental impact, materials and manufacturing process selection).  Following lectures, twice-weekly team meetings are used to provide a constant stream of feedback throughout the term as each team iterates their designs and associated deliverables.  In addition, multiple design reviews are held throughout the semester to assess the quality of their work at each key step in the design process.  At the end of the semester, the students showcase their solutions at the Michigan Engineering Design Expo.  

Projects are proposed from the different areas of study within mechanical engineering and reflect the expertise of instructing faculty. Each semester, several of our projects come from industry partners, as students really enjoy working on these ”real-world” projects and our sponsors like having access to bright, talented, enthusiastic students. Faculty-sponsored, Global Health, and Student -initiated projects are also offered each semester. 

 (Images: Angela Fichera)

Course Goals

The educational goal of this course is to give each student an understanding of design principles and to teach him/her how to integrate and apply engineering knowledge obtained at U of M toward the design and manufacturing of mechanical systems. 

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  1. Solve an open-ended mechanical engineering design problem including the broader considerations of performance, cost, safety, and societal impact. The problem must provide opportunities for creative mechanical design, fundamental analysis, and proof-of-concept prototyping. Each student team works on a different project and everyone participates in project proposal development, reporting, and interactive elements of the design process.
  2. Apply a design process appropriate to the engineering problem at hand, including unstructured creativity as part of a structured design problem.
  3. Generate and evaluate design concepts after gaining a sound understanding of the problem background and existing design concepts.
  4. Identify a set of design variables and governing equations for the selected design concept that can be utilized to improve the design.