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MECH 2100 Design Contest

Undergrad Students Year 3

Undergrad Students Year 4


Design & Graphics II

MECH 2100

Note: Dr. Hubbard taught this course in 2000 and 2001, in 2002 it is taught by Dr. Bell.

CONTEST TIME: Monday April 2nd 2001, 3:00-5:00
CONTEST LOCATION: Alumni Lounge, Sexton Campus, Dalhousie

Weekly Schedule
Project Rules  
Bag o' Junk
Report Guidelines  

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This class provides a project-based exercise in the engineering design process. Students work in teams and as individuals on defined projects which utilize knowledge and skills in graphics, statics, computing, and mechanics of materials. The projects encompass conceptual design, detailed analysis, engineering drawings, experimentation, physical model fabrication, laboratory testing, and preparation of professional reports.

Web page:
Instructor: Dr. Ted Hubbard
  Room 354 C Building, Sexton Campus

Class Times: MON, WED, FRI 10:35 - 11:25 Dunn 302
  MON TUTORIAL 2:35 - 5:25 Dunn 302

Grading: Project Report: 35%
  Mid-Term Report: 20%
  Initial Report: 10%
  Design Log Books: 10%
  Prototype: 10%
  Presentation: 5%
  Contest: 5%
  Memos: 5%

Collaboration Policy

Project work is normally done in groups of two (1 hand-in per group). Each group must do their own work, however, general discussion of the project is encouraged. If you put your name on it, it must be your work.

Reference vs. Plagiarism

You may use materials from a book or another source as reference, if you do so you must properly cite the source. Failure to do so is plagiarism and will result in failure. If it is not your work, you have to say so. Information from www sources is unacceptable as references.

Supplemental Exam

There is no final or midterm, students are graded based on their work during the term. Since there is no final exam in this course, no supplemental exam is offered.

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Weekly Schedule

Week 1: Introduction and Project Assignment
Day 1: project teams chosen
Design Process Overview

Week 2: Problem Definition
Brainstorming/Idea Generation

Week 3: Brainstorming/Idea Generation

Week 4: Brainstorming/Idea Generation
Initial Report Due (Jan. 26)

Week 5: Design Kits handed out ( Jan. 29)
Time Management / Gantt Charts

Week 6: Idea Selection/Winnowing

Week 7: Idea Selection/Winnowing

Week 8: Study Break (Feb. 19 - 23)

Week 9: Midterm Report Due (Feb. 26, 1st day after break)
Materials and Material Properties
Device Construction

Week 10: Device Construction

Week 11: Device Presentations (2 weeks before contest: Mar. 19, 21, 23)
Design Refinement

Week 12: Device Inspection (1 week before contest: Mar. 26, 28)
Design Refinement
No Lectures

Week 13: Project Contest (April 2nd, tutorial)
No Lectures
Final Project Report Due (Last day of classes: April 6th)

Team memos due EVERY week

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No late assignments will be accepted.


  • Regular attendance of classes is required.
  • Failure to attend classes will result in failure.
  • Attendance of tutorials is optional, no formal tutorials will be held.


  • Project work is normally done in groups of two (1 hand-in per group).
  • All members of the team must carry their share of the work load.
  • If a team is not functioning as a team, then that team may be severed: the students would then each submit an individual final report and each construct a device.

Computer Literacy

Students must become fluent in the following types of computer programs:

  • Word Processor such as Microsoft
  • Word Spreadsheet such as Microsoft Excel
  • CAD package such as Autocad
  • On-line tutorials and guidebooks are available.
  • It is the student's responsibility to become proficient with these programs.


  • Professional quality memos are required every week
  • 1 memo per group per week
  • 1 page max

Design Log Books

  • Every student is required to keep an INDIVIDUAL design notebook or log/lab book.
  • The log book should be hardcover, signed and each page should be numbered.
  • The log book should begin with a Table of Contents.
  • Each new entry should be dated, and each new date should begin on a new page.
  • The right side should be used for design work, the left side for rough calculations.
  • Figures and graphs should be stapled into the lab book.
  • The lab book is a legal document, it is what proves that you did the work, that it was your idea.
  • The lab book should be an accurate record of ALL your work.


Students are required to submit three reports in accordance with the MECH 2100 report guidelines. The reports should have the following general format:

Title Page
Letter of submittal
Summary page
Initial Report 4-5 pages (intro, body & conclusion), Due in week 4
- problem statement
- design ideas
- idea winnowing
Midterm Report 5-10 pages (intro, body & conclusion), Due in week 9
- build on initial report
- design refinement

Final Report
15-20 pages (intro, body & conclusion), Due in week 13
- build on midterm report
- final design
- analysis
- predictions/performance


  • Design teams must make a short oral presentation to the class prior to the contest, outlining their design and prototype.


  • Students must submit for inspection a prototype that obeys the contest rules. Teams that do not pass inspection will not compete in the contest.

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Text Book:

There is no required textbook for this course.

Reference Books:

  • Cross, N.
    Engineering Design Methods : Strategies for Product Design,
    2nd edition, Wiley, 1994
  • Pahl & Beitz,
    Engineering Design : A Systematic Approach,
    2nd edition, Springer-Verlag, 1996
  • Tufte, Edward
    The visual display of quantitative information,
    A modern classic.
    Tufte teaches the fundamentals of graphics, charts, maps and tables.
    Graphics Press, 1983, QA 276.3 T83
  • Machine Design magazine,
    Basics of Engineering Design Special Issues,
    Penton Publishing
  • Autocad/Word/Excel Tutorials and Manuals,
    There are many available on the market

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Design & Graphics II Memos

(Links open in a new window)

contest_results_1 Date: Apr 2
contest_tomorrow Date: Apr 1
inspection_results Date: Mar 26
inspect_step_step Date: Mar 25
inspection Date: Mar 24
contest_step_step Date: Mar 23
poster.gif Date: Mar 20
timer_in_lab Date: Mar 19
controller_in_lab Date: Mar 19
inspect_sched Date: Mar 19
posters_posted Date: Mar 19
oral_pres_sched Date: Mar 16
mid_report_marks Date: Mar 12
oral_pres Date: Mar 6
contest Date: Mar 5
memo6 Date: Mar 2
mid_report Date: Feb 14
tool_box Date: Feb 12
lab Date: Feb 12
init_report_marks Date: Feb 6
memo5 Date: Feb 6
offense Date: Jan 31
memo4 Date: Jan 30
init_report Date: Jan 27
memo3 Date: Jan 19
kits Date: Jan 9
memo2 Date: Jan 9
memo1 Date: Jan 4

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Project Rules

Each year students will build a device to perform a defined task. A final report and a working device will be due at the end of term. A contest will be held in the last week of classes.

This year the contest is to design a ``Ping-Pong Ball Snowplow''


The device will be placed in a 4'x 8' field of ping-pong balls.
The device must pick up as many ping pong balls as possible within 30 seconds.

Teams will compete head to head, two teams starting simultaneously.

Contestants will have 1 minute before each match to prepare/repair their devices.
Late devices will be disqualified.

Devices must be powered and operated from external control boxes.
The control boxes will be provided:
3 volts from two AA cells (student supplied)
via two DPDT switches (+/-),
to 4 wire telephone cord umbilicals.

Devices will be shut off after 30 seconds and balls counted.
Devices continuing after 30 seconds will be penalized/disqualified.

A ball is picked up if it does not touch the floor and is 50% within the device.

Devices are allowed to interfere with (not destroy) their opponents.

The assembled device must be able to fit within a milk crate ( 11"x12"x12").

Devices must start within a 12"x12" square.

Only materials found in the standard supply kit may be used.

The device must be safe and must pass inspection.
Students must wear eye protection during operation.

Any rotating/moving parts must not be a hazard.
Operators must be able to turn the device on and off without injury.

The contest ping pong balls may not be permanently altered or damaged in any way.
The contest arena may not be permanently altered or damaged in any way.

Bonus (+5) RED and Penalty (-5) YELLOW ping pong balls will be included.

Interpretation of the Rules

Judges decisions are final.
Any device breaking the rules will be impounded and will not compete in the contest.

You bend the rules at your own risk.
You may decide to interpret the rules creatively, but you must check the legality first.

The Contest

All teams will compete at least twice.

Teams will be sorted by the number of wins and then by ball count.
The best 8 teams after two rounds will enter single elimination playoffs, with the winner of each trial continuing to next round.
For example: quarter-finals (8 teams), semi-finals (4 teams), final (2 teams)

Design projects will be evaluated on the basis of several factors:
- Quality, originality and efficiency of the design
- Written final report
- Construction of the device
- Performance of the device

Note that the winner of the contest will not necessarily get the highest mark.
Nor does a poor showing in the contest necessarily mean a low mark.

Safety Rules

All students must obey all safety rules at all times.
Failure to follow these rules will result in failure.
Testing is to be done in designated testing area only.

Students must wear eye protection during operation.

Devices will be inspected a few days prior to the contest.
Teams that do not pass inspection will not compete in the contest.

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Bag o' Junk (Design Kits)

All students will have the same materials from which to build their project.

Each team will purchase 1 standard design kit, the cost will be $40 / person.

The design kit is known as the ``Bag o' Junk''.
Note: sizes are approximate

2: motor kits with gears (TAMIYA 72002/72003)
1: AA battery holder and connector
1: 36" wire (22 gauge, 2 wires)
2: 6" small diameter aluminum tubes
Balsa wood:
8: 1/2" x 1/2" x 12"
8: 1/4" x 1/4" x 12"
8: 1/8" x 1/8" x 12"
1: 1/8" x 3" x 12"
6: wooden wheels: 2: small, 2: medium, 2: large
4: rubber bands
6: paper clips, 2: binder clips
1: ping pong ball
2: 35mm film cannisters
2: sheets 8 1/2" x 11" O/H plastic sheets
1: sheet 6" x 6" blue foam pad
6: 1" 4-40 bolts and nuts
1: 36" fishing line (heavy gage)
1: 6" small diameter plastic tubing
1: telephone jack
2: small springs
2: straws
10: pennys

GLUE and Soldering are permitted (for joining parts only)


No additions! No substitutions! No trading!

Decorations are permitted

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Report Guidelines

MECH 2100 Projects are to be done in groups of two, 1 hand-in per group.

The following MINIMUM standards will be adopted for all reports.

Reports will be submitted on 8 1/2" by 11" unlined white paper.

and your NAMES must be neatly lettered on a title page.
Other pages will be numbered.

Reports are to be done on the front side of the pages only, do not use the backsides of the pages.

Reports must be bound together.

All text must be typewritten, handwritten text is unacceptable.

All sketches and figures must be neat.
2D figures should be machine drawn, initial and 3D sketches may be hand drawn in ink.
Graphs must be labeled with scales and units for the axes as required.
Figures, graphs and sketches should not be pasted in.

Neat handwritten calculations and/or sketches may be appended at the end of the homework.
These should be done on mech pads.

In most cases, a conclusion or recommendation is appropriate in addition to a numerical result.

All citations MUST be properly referenced. WWW references are not acceptable.

Report quality is intended to represent a reasonable Engineering Standard.