Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session

Labs: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

Subject Description

In Sophomore Design, 1.101, you will be challenged with three design tasks: a first concerning water resources/treatment, a second concerning structural design, and a third focusing on the conceptual (re)design of a large system, Boston’s Back Bay. The first two tasks require the design, fabrication and testing of hardware. Several laboratory experiments will be carried out and lectures will be presented to introduce students to the conceptual and experimental basis for design in both domains.

Course Conduct

All students are expected to attend the Tuesday lectures. The class will be split into two sections, A and B, for the laboratory work. Section A will meet on Wednesday afternoon, B on Thursday afternoon.

Students will work in groups of from 3 to 5 on all laboratory tasks. Groups will be defined by the faculty in charge but with an ear open to requests for specific partners. Group composition will vary from one task to the next.

The most successful experiments in science and engineering are those in which you know what the outcome will be before you start. Indeed, you cannot design an experiment without knowing something about the range of possible value of variables and parameters, a safe loading of the structure, an instruments sensitivity to some external disturbance, and the like. So procedures for each experiment are to be read before the start of lab even though these can only sketch out what needs to be done to effect a measurement. Certain constraints are printed in bold within these descriptions. These constraints are to be strictly observed. In part this is for safety reasons, in part because we do not want to break something that is not supposed to be broken, overload an instrument, or flood the basement. If you are not sure, ask your lab instructor.

Each lab session will begin with an orientation. The faculty in charge will respond to questions and convey essential, often tacit, knowledge regarding the smooth conduct of the experiment or ways to carry through a design/fabrication/testing task. The lab instructor, TA, and technical instructor will be available throughout the lab session to provoke your thinking in response to questions that you pose.

Course Requirements

You are required to keep a lab notebook. You are to use ink, make no erasures. Draw a line through that text which you find faulty or erroneous. Sketches of apparatus may be made in pencil. Make sure you record all relevant dimensions (don’t neglect to record the units), variables, settings, materials, and information that will enable you to write the report without coming back to the lab to check up on the value of a critical parameter. Reserve a section of your lab notebook for documenting your design tasks.

While we will periodically review your notebooks, these are primarily for your reading, not ours. They should provide you with a record to draw upon in writing up the reports which are primarily for our reading and evaluation.

You will prepare, as individuals, a one to two page report on each experiment done in the lab. Ordinarily you will have time to complete this report and hand in before the end of the lab session. Details about the content and format of these will be prescribed at the start of the lab.

You will prepare and submit, as a group, a report on each of the three design tasks. Details, again, will be defined at the introduction to the design task.

Written reports will be judged on their clarity and legibility as well as their technical content. Reports are to be submitted as hard copy unless otherwise indicated. The use of appropriate software applications is encouraged if such use promotes clarity and legibility.

Groups will be called upon to describe and review their design efforts to the class as a whole at the times noted on the syllabus.

Individually, you are required to develop materials, abstracted from each of your three design reports, for a portfolio.

There will be occasional, short reading assignments.


Attention to safety is absolutely required of all participants. Key elements of shop safety include knowledge of proper machine operation, full attention to the task, and use of protective equipment. Proper shop housekeeping, including maintaining an organized workspace and cleaning up after yourself, is essential. See and comply with the Safety Instructions as well as instructor directions (you will be asked to acknowledge that you have received and read this document). Any person deemed to be working in a manner that presents a hazard to themselves or others may be removed from the course at the discretion of the instructors.

Tools and supplies: Kits of hand tools will be signed out to each team, which will be responsible for their security and their return. Supplies will also be provided for prototyping. Students who wish to use tools and materials other than those supplied should speak with an instructor first.

CEE Shop Protocol (PDF)

Hand and Power Tool Safety (PDF)


Grades will be based both on participation and on the design and laboratory reports. Participation comprises attendance, attitude, and industry in class, as well as the keeping of a clear and accurate project notebook. Overall weighting will be as follows:

Design Task Reports and Portfolio 50%
Laboratory Experiments 30%
Active Participation 20%

There is no final exam.

Learning Resource Types
group_work Projects