On Monday, students in 2.009, Product Engineering Processes, presented their final projects related to the theme “outdoors.” The students, all seniors in Mechanical Engineering, worked for three months in eight color-coded teams of 15-19 students each to research markets, choose a focus, design a product, and produce a working prototype with a $6500 budget.
David Wallace, the course instructor, hosted the event in a full Kresge auditorium. The finale included live music, videos of in-class events, eight-minute team presentations, and opportunities for audience question and answer. Each team provided an overview of its target user base, demonstrated its prototype, and presented a business plan for taking the product to market.
Two of the teams focused on products for bicycle commuters. The Blue Team designed StormShield, an inflatable cover to serve as rain protection for cyclists. The Green Team produced a handlebar system that turns GPS directions from a rider’s phone into vibration signals in the hand grips. Two products were also targeted to campers. The Orange Team created Ferno, a lightweight propane stove. The Red Team used a chemical reaction in Heatware, their design for a self-heating pot for flameless outdoor cooking.
The Yellow Team had a particularly large prototype for a medium-range spinach harvester, Sproutacus. The Silver Team also targeted a relatively niche market with a dolly specifically designed for moving beer kegs down stairs. The Purple Team’s SkyBeacon deploys a helium-filled balloon to serve as a locating aid for distressed ships. The last group to present, the Pink Team, demonstrated HERC, their device for trash receptacle cleaning.
Most 2.009 students valued their experience even with the intense time commitment required. “I learned how to work really, really hard to pursue something I’m passion about,” said Yellow Team member Aaron M. Fittery ’13. “We worked 12 hours most days, and I had a lot of fun with my teammates.”
“It was really energizing to get on stage,” said John W. Reynolds ’13, a presenter for the Silver Team, adding that the most rewarding part of the class was seeing beer delivery men use their prototype.
Madeline Salazar ’13 described her experience presenting for the Purple Team as “nerve-wracking,” but said, “The unique part [of 2.009] is that we’re still undergraduate students without our degree, but MIT has already prepared us to make a product as mechanical engineers.”
“We try to teach a bunch of skills,” said Wallace, “but ultimately we want students to have an attitude that they can do more than they think. We have a lot of fun while doing our work.”