Course Descriptions
MECH_ENG 398-1: Engineering Design



Senior standing


iglideProduct or system design projects carried out by small student groups. Project definition, conceptual and detailed design, evaluation, and documentation.

What It's About

ME 398 is the capstone course in Product Engineering for the Mechanical Engineering, which provides an experience in the creative aspects of design from project definition to ideation to functional prototypes. During this time, students will have the opportunity to experience the entire process of design, including: defining product specifications, developing creative design ideas, evaluating design concepts based on engineering analysis, describing the detailed design using CAD drawings, and building multiple physical prototypes ranging from feasibility demonstration to full Alpha-level functional prototypes.

Who Takes It

Nobel Prize winner Herbert Simon said, "Science is the study of what is. Engineering is the creation of what is to be." The essence of engineering is design. Most engineers work on some sort of product development, whether it be creating new products or making better products, all based on a fairly well-defined design process. In ME 398, student teams create a new product for an outside client using this design process. Undergraduates take this course in their fourth year, after having mastered many of the engineering tools that they will use in their careers. Mechanical engineering students are required to take either this course or ME 340-2 to fulfill their design requirement. Two former students in this course went on to win the iF Product Design Award in an international design competition based in Germany for their design of the Swingline Worx Mini Stapler in 2000.


The course meets two days per week for two-hour lectures.


Assignments/evaluations may include prototypes, oral presentations, interim reports, final reports, and quizzes or exams.


  • Product Design and Development, Ulrich and Eppinger, McGraw Hill/Irwin, 6th edition, 2015
  • Lecture Notes and additional reading amterials posted on Canvas.

Advanced Study

Students interested in pursuing further study in product design development should consider the Engineering Design and Innovation (EDI) program or the Master of Product Development (MPD) program at Northwestern University. EDI is a program for the recent engineering graduate, while MPD is designed for working professionals and requires at least 3 years of work experience.


If you are interested in sponsoring a project, please review this info packet and contact Michael Beltran at for more information.

Course Syllabus