Michigan Engineering News

Students looking at a computer

Learning to work like engineers

While the task is simple — build a device to sort balls by color — the lessons go much deeper.

Michigan Engineering undergraduate students in ME350 work together in teams to design, build, and test four bar linkage devices.  The course pushes the students and teams to employ model-based design and engineering in their projects.  ME350 has an emphasis on mechatronics, technology that combines electronics and mechanical engineering, because several devices these days contain more mechatronic devices than in the past.  

Students are tasked with building a device that collects balls from various chutes and sorts them based on color.  The teams each designed their mechanisms using computer aided design.  Then, they produce accurate engineering drawings to hand off to other teams for machining.  Once these parts are in hand, the teams assemble their devices and program them to perform an assigned sorting challenge.

Michigan has been pioneering this type of hands-on education. That’s also something we would like to keep pushing and be a leader in this area of applied engineering.”

—David Remy