Topic outline

  • Conclusions from the course

    Despite the restrictions due to the corona pandemic —particularly having to collaborate remotely and not having access to the lab facilities and workshops— all teams were successful both at designing an interesting machine and largely achieving the intended learning outcomes of the course. This is a remarkable achievement and is reflected in the distribution of grades earned for the course:

    grade 1 2 3  4  5
    frequency - 1 8 12 26

    Some of the lessons learned from the special circumstances this year are unique to those circumstances, but some will be useful also when normal contact teaching resumes.

    • Without contact teaching, students had fewer evident opportunities to interact with course staff. Whereas there was a good amount of email communication about questions, some feedback indicates that not everyone felt they were able to ask questions. Next time we run the course, we plan to have dedicated weekly time slots for each team to meet with course staff and receive informal feedback about the status of their project as well as ask questions. This may also result in more prompt bidirectional communication about any issues students have related to practical organization of the course.
    • Part of the role of the starter project, in previous years, was to immediately get students started making something. This helped both with motivation for the course and with familiarity with the laboratory and workshop facilities they would be using intensively in the final weeks of the course. It also provides an example of part of the documentation that is to be produced for the final project. This year the link with the rest of the course was perhaps less clear, but the feedback we received about that will help us state the link more clearly in future.
    • Another consequence of not having contact teaching is that courses have been more isolated from each other. The suggestion to have a list of "experts" that students in this machine design project course can turn to with specific questions related to their project is a good suggestion, especially for questions that the course staff does not have that much expertise in. Next time we run the course, we plan to have each of the common studies courses connected with this course name someone whom students can turn to with questions related to the intersection of that course with this course. 
    • This was the first year we emphasized individual reflections about learning outcomes this much in this course. By and large, the experience with this is positive. It confirmed that this course (and presumably many courses with group work) has some students focusing on tasks they already know how to do well, and neither learning much from that themselves nor teaching their teammates through sharing the experience. It is gratifying to see that some teams do say they learn from their teammates' expertise. We will reflect ourselves, on ways to encourage learning from each other more in this course.

    Course Information

    This project course is part of common studies courses in the Mechanical Engineering Master’s Programme. Here, the transferable skills learned in the MEC-E1001 course and the engineering skills learned in the other courses are put in practice. 

    Students, working in teams, will complete a specific mechanical design task, representative of mechanisms used in machines. They will develop an initial concept, carry out more detailed designs of critical components and build a prototype to demonstrate its working.

    The course grade is based on meeting the deadlines set for Milestones in the project, and on students’ individual contribution to the team effort.

    Credits: 5 ECTS

    Grading: 1 - 5

    Teachers in charge: Sven Bossuyt and Kevin Otto

    Lecture sessions will be held virtually via Zoom. Join using the link:

    In case of any questions regarding the course, if they may be relevant to others, please ask them on the general discussion forum of the course. If they are unlikely to be of interest to anyone else please contact the assistant Siddharth Jayaprakash (