2.009 Product Engineering Processes

Advice from 2.009 Alumni

In the anonymous final course evaluation, 2.009 students were asked "Your advice to students in next year's 2.009 class on key lessons for a successful learning experience and project would be...?"

An unedited list of their advice is listed below.

  • Get your team aligned and sharing a vision for the whole term, and DON'T PROCRASTINATE!!
  • Make sure you do your homework! Sometimes it might work out better to go on a trip to seek out the market data, rather than just going somewhere to test something you've already made only to find out there is really no need for it.
  • Read up on last year's projects asap, and also read up on whole course schedule.
  • Learn to work well as a team.
  • 1) start early... work often. 2) Get everyone involved as much as possible. 3) Work in small sub-groups.
  • Keep on top of things and don't rule out anything no matter how outrageous it seems. I think a good project would be improving tools around the country.
  • Build soon and lots.
  • Don't shine up your machine until you have thoroughly tested it.
  • Try to pick your teams or at least find a team that seems balanced in interests. Also, plan ahead. The origami exercise is a valuable exercise--it does take 3x the amount of time you think they takes to do something. Use the instructors. They are full of years of experience and advice that will help you out tremendously because you really do not have time to sit around and slowly figure out the solution to your problem--the instructors won't give you the answer, but they will provide guidance that will help you figure out the solution.
  • Design, design, design...in advance.
  • Pick a simple project that requires less work and will allow you to focus on learning rather than on finishing.
  • Keep the project as simple as necessary. Minimize complication!!!
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Identify your key resources (i.e. helpful people) early and use them as much as possible.
  • Put a LOT of consideration into your product selection... product selection is KEY... no matter how great of engineers you are and how hard you work, you simply will not have the time or means to do some projects/products well. Be wary and think about it carefully. Also don't be afraid to cut your losses and abandon an idea or product if it just doesn't have what it takes to be a good 2.009 product.
  • PLAN PLAN PLAN. Very careful planning needed throughout the ENTIRE semester. Testing is key. Make sure to build on time for testing and optimization! Shoot for the stars ... but know your limits. Ambition is good but 2.009 is only for one semester ... time is something you don't have a lot of.
  • Stay in close contact with the customer. Don't take professors' advice as the word of god; critically evaluate it. Don't aim for projects that are out of your reach, would take too much time and money; keep it simple.
  • Don't let one student try and take over the entire group. Leadership is great to organize, but don't let them push their own ideas at the expense of others'.
  • Make sure to choose a project that at least 5 people on the team are PASSIONATE about. A team will do better with 5 passionate team members than 15 half hearted ones.
  • 2.009 is a class that can be beneficial as you want it to be. It's a class of life that can bring out your best and worst. Pick a project you are truly passionate about and the semester will be a blast.
  • Leverage your lab professors as much as possible from the very beginning.
  • Listen, respect, and get on a good team.
  • Time management is key to success. It might be the most important thing in order to guarantee enough sleep and a complete and fully working product.
  • Every time you do something for the team, make it well known - not just to your team leaders, but to everyone.
  • Listen to your lab instructors, they have valuable input. Communicate with them regularly, not just during the designated lab time. Also, ask the shop guys for material and manufacturing help, they have much more experience than we do. Finally, Prof. Wallace is a knowledge goldmine, talk to him often.
  • Demand more help from professors - I know that our professors only gave us comments once a week which was usually too late because we had already been working hard on developing something and then they would tell us it was no good, and we never really learned/improved because of their feedback. I know some other groups in similar situations finally had a talk with their professors to tell them how dissatisfied they were with the quality of the feedback they were getting, and that really helped to improve things. Our team probably should have done the same.
  • Try to think about the overall goal. Even though the milestones come every two weeks, just take some time to think how your sketch model might look in two months. And stay on task all the time.
  • Take care to do a good job in each step - makes the whole class easier, and you'll learn a lot more that way.
  • Learn how to communicate and organize your team right from the beginning. It's less about design and engineering than it is about teamwork.
  • Solve an EXTREMELY clear problem. Take the most obvious problem and make a clear and simple solution. focus your attention on the other aspects of the class: creating a business model, manufacturing, human factors design, and other non-technical things of that nature.
  • Pick a project in which you can imagine exactly how it will work from the beginning. Interesting engineering issues will come up in the details.
  • Don't connect this class in name with 2007, I came in with low expectations.
  • Spend time on research. There is so much information and it is difficult to get to the root of the problem.
  • Work together and have strong organizers. Talk to professors and plan ahead. Have confidence in your team members.
  • Be reasonable about what you think you can accomplish. Having the most complicated project ever is a sign that you're going to fail.
  • Don't take a heavy course load because you'll enjoy 009 a lot more if you can afford to devote the time that the course demands.