ME 240 - Product Dissection
(and ME 105S/106S/107S)

Spring 2013, TR 2:30-4:25pm in 314 Hammond


This course examines the way in which products and machines work: their physical operation, the manner in which they are constructed, and the design and societal considerations that determine the difference between success and failure in the marketplace. The primary objectives in this course are to develop a basic aptitude for engineering and engineering design and to develop mental visualization skills by examination of design and manufacture of consumer and industrial products. Heavy emphasis is placed on hands-on laboratory experience and the development of team and communication skills.

The course is intended for freshman or sophomore level students of all engineering majors. It is a required course in the Product Realization Minor. It was developed by the Manufacturing Engineering Education Partnership, a coalition of Penn State, The University of Puerto-Rico Mayaguez, the University of Washington and Sandia National Labs. Funding was provided by the Technology Reinvestment Program. Course topics include the following.

  1. Product dissection and competitive analysis as a tool for design
  2. Product design process and the product life cycle
  3. Material properties and selection
  4. Consumer-product interaction issues including:
    • Aesthetics, ergonomics, human factors
    • Qualities of a good design, satisfying customer needs
    • Ethics and social responsibility
    • "Green" or environmental design
  5. Basic mechanical and electrical components and measurements
  6. Introduction to manufacturing processes and design for manufacturability
  7. Documenting and communicating a design The objectives in this course are to learn about engineering and product design by:
    1. Dissecting existing consumer and industrial products to determine how they function, how they are made and how they might be improved
    2. Explaining that function by applying appropriate physical principles
    3. Communicating that function effectively-by oral, written, electronic, and graphical means
    4. Developing visual reasoning skills and basic mechanical aptitude

The course materials consist of modules in electronic form (Microsoft Powerpoint and Word and Adobe PDF) for easy dissemination and modification.

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