Instructor Insights

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course ESD.051 Engineering Innovation and Design as it was taught by Blade Kotelly and Prof. Joel Schindall in Fall 2012.

The course is a project-based seminar in innovative design thinking. Lectures focus on the iterative design process and techniques to enhance creative analysis. Students use this process to design and implement robust voice recognition applications using a simple web-based system. They also give presentations and receive feedback to sharpen their communication skills for high emotional and intellectual impact. Guest lectures illustrate multidisciplinary approaches to design thinking.

The Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program created this course as a part of a larger engineering-leadership program for undergraduates.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

This course is part of a leadership curriculum and serves to help students learn about the process of designing solutions to problems in which people are a direct beneficiary of the solution. In this course, the student learns to conceive, evaluate, plan, organize, lead, and implement engineering design projects. In addition, the course is aimed at sharpening creative thinking and critical analysis of designs, as well as learning how to use an iterative design processes. Students innovate, implement, and communicate designs that are practical, successful, elegant, interactive, robust, and holistic. There is a strong focus on project scope, and balancing real-world constraints against the limitations of technology and human cognition.

Possibilities for Further Study/Careers

As part of the larger Gordon Engineering Leadership curriculum, students will take other courses in leadership, including ones helping them build and understand of organizations, and advanced system-design techniques.

Instructor Interview

In the following short videos, Blade Kotelly and Prof. Joel Schindall discuss various aspects of how they taught ESD.051 Engineering Innovation and Design.

Curriculum Information



Requirements Satisfied

This course is required for the Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program Year One.


Every semester


The students’ grades were based on the following activities:

  • 10% Pop Quizzes
  • 25% Homework
  • 55% Projects
  • 10% Attendance and Participation

Watch Prof. Schindall discuss grading in this design course.

Student Information


52 students

Breakdown by Year

Roughly 3/10 freshmen, 1/10 sophomores, 4/10 juniors, and 2/10 seniors. Many students are in the Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program.

Breakdown by Major

A mix of students from 10 different majors, with large numbers of students from Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Typical Student Background

There are no common traits or skills. The students came from diverse backgrounds of engineering and science interests, and there were no pre requisites for the course.

Ideal Class Size

The class needs a certain number of students to foster good interactions for discussions - and of course as the class gets very large it’s hard to have discussions in which everyone can contribute in a single section. Between 20 and 75 students is very good but at the upper ends it does require very careful moderation.

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 9 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

In Class

  • Met twice a week for two hours per session; 26 sessions total.
  • Class was often structured to be a mix of lecture and small group discussion and debrief in order to help the students practice what they were learning.
  • Week 10 class sessions were devoted to individual presentations; week 15 class sessions were devoted to group presentations.
  • This course included guest lectures from Sanjay Sarma, Garrett Harker, and Steven Spear.

Out of Class

  • Students completed ten homework assignments, an individual project, and a group project.
  • Students were given the primary instructor’s cell phone number and e-mail address, and they were encouraged to ask questions and contact the instructor or teaching assistants any time. Students have never abused this privilege. Students used the teaching assistant staff extensively to get feedback about homework. There were generally staff members awake at any time of day or night, which helped students get help right when they needed it.

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

group_work Projects
theaters Lecture Videos
assignment Activity Assignments
assignment Design Assignments
co_present Instructor Insights