Topic: Engineering to Improve the Quality of Life in Winter

Efficiency, Safety, Performance

Professor: John Collier

Tuesday/Thursday: 10:00-11:50am
X-hour: Wednesday 3:00-3:50pm
Spanos Auditorium, Cummings Hall

Winter 2014

Course Objectives

  1. Identify a social need, determine the magnitude of the problem and quantify the specifications for a solution that includes technical, ethical, environmental, legal, and other requirements.
  2. Use engineering problem solving methods to generate a set of alternative solutions, use the matrix system to select the alternative that appears most viable, and then design a component, system, or process to implement the alternative.
  3. Apply science and mathematics to describe the problem, analyze potential solutions, and evaluate the final design.
  4. Design and conduct experiments to assess the viability of a proposed solution; analyze and interpret the resulting data.
  5. Use modern engineering tools (e.g., SolidWorks) in the design process.
  6. Work effectively on a multidisciplinary team and negotiate group dynamics.
  7. Evaluate and appropriately act upon ethical issues that influence the engineering process.
  8. Communicate effectively through written and verbal reports and improve your oral presentation skills.
  9. Begin the practice of life-long learning through an analysis of new technology.

To fulfill these objectives you will be working in a group on a term-long design project. The specific field of the project changes each time the course is taught. The scenario for the course is that a fictional foundation, The Dartmouth College Educational Foundation (DCEF), has sent out a request for proposals to which each student team will respond. This year the DCEF has identified Improved Efficiency as the area within which it would like to encourage proposals for projects.

The RFP (request for proposal) follows:

DCEF is looking to fund projects that seek to advance the state-of-the-art of devices and processes in areas that significantly influence the quality of life.

Engineering to Improve the Quality of Life in Winter

There are many factors that have been used to describe the quality of life including: access to clean water and air, a safe and healthy place to live, and work that is rewarding. New technology is available which may improve the efficiency, safety or performance of devices, which provide heat, light, water, clean air, transportation, housing, and many other components of daily living. Clever designs can lead to longer lasting, more environmentally friendly vehicles, houses, appliances, processes and equipment.

  • Efficiency:
    Efficiency includes the effective use of energy but also extends to all fields including agriculture, natural resource use, transportation, communication, healthcare, and education. The challenge is to find an area of interest where efficiency can be improved by clever engineering design.
  • Safety:
    Improving auto safety, reducing accidents at home, on vacation, during recreation and at work are worthwhile challenges. Seatbelts, shockproof bathroom outlets, helmets and improved lighting have all reduced specific types of accidents but there are still thousands of folks of all ages who are injured through the activities of daily life who would benefit by improvements in this area.
  • Performance:
    The development of new types of electronic sensors, actuators, batteries, and controllers permit large improvements in the effectiveness of many devices. Computers are smaller, more efficient and less expensive and can be built into common devices such as appliances, recreational gear and equipment for children. New, lightweight, inexpensive, and high performance materials are now available to permit the development of more effective designs, which will last longer and, potentially, cost less. Improvements in performance in many areas are valuable as they reduce the cost of operation and conserve resources.

The Task:

Your challenge is to find a problem and then to invent a solution that is designed to improve the quality of life for a well-defined group. You may focus on children, the elderly, athletes, or any other group. Ideally the group you have selected, met, and interviewed will provide you with both the problem and the specifications for a functional solution. By the end of the term you will have developed an original prototype that demonstrates the effectiveness, safety, performance, and efficiency of your approach and your user group will have provided user testing.

Note for all projects:
It is very strongly recommended that the problem you identify has local impact so that your customer/consumer is readily available to provide input and specifications, and that a group of them can be drawn together to provide specifications and feedback and to test your prototypes.

While the final prototype may utilize computer programs developed by the team, a program alone will not be a satisfactory project; the goal is to produce a device.


Each group will be expected to:

  1. Select a problem in one of the fields listed above.
  2. Determine the magnitude of the problem and identify potential consumers.
  3. Determine the specifications associated with a satisfactory solution.
  4. Generate a set of potential alternative approaches.
  5. Select an approach.

During the term, you will also be expected to:

  1. Develop a prototype.
  2. Test the prototype.
  3. Develop a venture proposal.
  4. Present the prototype and venture proposal to the Review Board.

The DCEF has brought together a Review Board to assess and evaluate your efforts. The Review Board will meet to evaluate and critique group presentations during the term. These presentations are: the proposal, a mid-term progress report, and your final presentation. The course director will grade your written work for each of these reports. In addition there are two informal discussions and interactions. The first is an opportunity to share project ideas and get feedback before the formal proposal. The second is a design review that occurs prior to the final report.


Professor John Collier, Course Director
Kevin Baron, Machine Shop Supervisor, Thayer School of Engineering
John Currier, Research Engineer, Thayer School of Engineering
Douglas Fraser, Research Engineer, Thayer School of Engineering
Gail Gentes, Dartmouth Director of Action Based Learning Programs
Leanna (Annie) Saunders, Thayer Design Fellow
Christopher Schaef, Thayer PhD in Innovation candidate

Professor Collier is available in Room 119G to answer questions on organization, presentation, content, etc., daily throughout the duration of the course. He will also be available Monday and Wednesday evenings in the Couch Lab beginning at 7pm.

You should avail yourself of the resources of the course (listed under Support Services) and also meet with the course consultants (Mr. Kevin Baron, Mr. Doug Fraser, and Prof. Chris Levey) during the term.



You will be working in a team throughout this course. You need to ensure that the written works reflect only the efforts of your team and that you reference all sources using the methods described in the Dartmouth booklet 'Sources and Citations at Dartmouth'.


The project grading will be by team, not individual. The weight of grading of the four project segments of the course is as follows:

  1. Proposal = 15%
  2. Progress Report I = 15%
  3. Progress Report II = 15%
  4. Final Report = 50%
  5. Individual participation = 5%

The proposal, progress report I, and the final report grades are based equally on oral and written work. The progress report II is an informal oral presentation and discussion that will be held in the Couch Lab; there is no written component. The grading of the individual participation is described in the following section.


The majority of students will receive the same grade as the team grade. Two factors may result in an individual receiving a grade higher or lower than the team grade. For a student to earn a higher grade the student must have fulfilled all of the individual tasks shown below. Second, the students must be identified by both their teammates and TA as having put in more effort than the average of the team. If both criteria are fulfilled the student may earn a grade one increment higher than his/her team grade. In unusual circumstances an individual who was lazy or counterproductive or negligent may earn a grade lower than the team either by assessment by both their teammates and TA or by failing to fulfill the individual tasks shown below.

  • Class attendance and participation
  • Participation in weekly skills sessions
  • Participation in group meetings
  • Useful critique of at least one other group's proposal and progress report


Each team will be given a notebook to keep the daily progress of the group effort. This log will be the basis for discussion of both group and individual performance at one of the weekly meetings with the student advisors. The goal of the notebook is to permit the group to document the development of its intellectual property (IP); to that end, any novel development should be witnessed and signed off on by the TA.


Each team will have a TA. These are carefully selected students who have taken ENGS 21 and demonstrated skill and enthusiasm. The TAs will be available to provide advice, and will train you in a wide range of skills including CAD, machining, model making, material testing, sensor use, etc. The TA will be expected to review the group workbook each week. They will also be tracking expenses. In addition, the TAs will help you to prepare your oral presentations and will review them with you afterwards. The TAs will read your written reports and provide you with a critique and recommendations. The TAs will be assessing your performance as individuals each week at the weekly laboratory meetings.


Each team will meet with their TA twice a week; one time is the required 2-hour lab and a second one-hour meeting one evening. The TA will lead a discussion of the team and individual performance. Participation and attendance are noted; meeting more often as the term and project progresses is strongly recommended.


You will need to use your own laptop for the oral presentations throughout the term. The Thayer laptops used in the presentation rooms may not have all of the application software needed to adequately display your presentation. Please note it is always a good idea to have a backup computer available in case a problem arises before or during the oral presentations. Also, please print out handouts from your Powerpoint presentations, 6 slides to a page, for each of the review board members.


Successful project completion requires the fabrication and testing of at least one prototype. Often multiple prototypes are useful in developing the final product. The final prototype is expected to be fully functional, aesthetically pleasing, and tested to provide data on performance. To ensure that all members of the team can contribute to the fabrication and testing, a series of weekly laboratory sessions will provide one-on-one, hands-on training of all students in: hand tools, power tools, machine shop equipment including lathes and mills, soldering, wire wrapping, materials testing and sensor circuit development (temperature, pressure, sound, moisture, strain, etc.). The timing of these two-hour sessions is the prime criterion for group selection and the same time slot will carry through the term. Your staff advisor will hold those sessions with your TA facilitating.


Throughout the term there will be optional sessions for you to learn additional skills and techniques.

Additional Important Notes:

  • Use of laptops during class is discouraged; notes for each session are provided and interaction in class is encouraged.
  • Cell phones should be turned off.
  • This is an interactive course so participation/attendance is rewarded.
  • Critique of your peers' oral presentations is an important component of the course.
  • This is a hands-on course and the goal is to teach you a wide array of skills. Collaboration amongst team members is required.
  • Interaction and sharing of information and skills between groups and with staff and faculty is strongly encouraged.


MacLean 009 and 014 (the Couch Project Design Laboratory) has been assigned as the project space for this course. This space will be staffed by the TAs for most of the time it is open during the term.


It is critical to survey prospective user/consumers to learn about specifications. When you plan to do so, please contact Prof. Collier to discuss the methodology. Local schools are very sensitive to interactions with their students and permission must be obtained prior to visiting a school.


Before beginning your testing, please have Prof. Chris Levey or staff technical advisors approve your test setup.

Computer-Aided Design
Design software facilitates the product development process in the following ways:

  1. Imposes a structured approach to the design process
  2. Promotes collaboration
  3. Provides access to computer-aided manufacturing resources
  4. Produces engineering drawings to facilitate fabrication
  5. Creates attractive graphics for use in presentations

Solidworks is the CAD program of choice for this course. You will be guided through a tutorial in one of your first three laboratory sessions. Additional guidance in the use of Solidworks is available from your TA and your assigned staff member. Solidworks is a popular alternative to ProE with an easier learning curve. It incorporates parametric 3D CAD with additional finite element analysis through COMSOL. Solidworks is available on the CAD lab machines, and also M210 computing lab. Info on Thayer installation.


The following members of the faculty and staff of Thayer School are available to give advice and assistance (within reason). You may save a lot of time and effort by making use of their knowledge. Their offices are all in Thayer School (Cummings Hall or MacLean).

Ellen Wirta (Cummings, Room 119F)
Faculty Academic Assistant for Prof. Collier, Thayer School.

Professor Peter Robbie (MacLean, Room 115)
Senior Lecturer in Engineering Sciences. He is a product designer who focuses in creative problem solving, design for human use, and integrated design. He will play an active role in the creative side of ENGS 21, presenting some of the lectures and collaborating with design teams in the Project Design Lab. He maintains an open office policy, so feel free to stop by his office or email him with questions about your projects.

Kevin Baron, Jason Downs, Peter Fontaine, Charles Brettell (Cummings, Room G26)
Technical Staff - Responsible for the Machine and Model-Making Shops. They will be responsible for training you in the use of hand tools, power tools, and machine tools. They will also be helpful in suggesting the best procedures in metal and wood-working, fabricating with plastics, setting-up and operating machine shop equipment, cost estimating, etc. It is usually better to obtain materials through the machine shop rather than elsewhere on campus or commercially; this saves time and paperwork. Machine Shop hours are 8:00am-12:00pm and 1:00-4:30pm, Monday through Friday. There will also be evening and weekend hours later on in the term.

Leanna (Annie) Saunders (Office in South East Corner of Couch Lab)
Thayer Design Fellow.

Douglas Fraser (Cummings, Room 217A)
Engineering Lab Instructor. He will assist you with problems in electronics, mechanical designs, and computers.

Professor Chris Levey (Cummings, Room 217E)
Director of Safety. Prof. Levey is the person to see if you have any questions about the safety of any experiment or test you are developing.

*Students also need to attend Chris Levey's Safety lecture*

Dave Picard (Cummings, Room 006)
Digital Lab Instructor and Manager of C011 Electronics Project Lab. Dave can help with projects involving electronics, sensors, and microcontrollers.

Daniel Cullen (MacLean 007)
Engineering Lab Instructor and Manager of the Couch Project Lab. He can assist you in the project lab and also with the issues involving test and measurement and with materials and testing.

Gary Durkee (Cummings, Room G17)
Building Manager. He can identify space to carry out testing that cannot be done in the design laboratory.

Rene Dauphinais, Roger Dauphinais, Mike West, Dan Marchand (MacLean, Room 25)
Electronics Technicians. Many pieces of standard equipment, supplies, and tools can be borrowed from them. They also can suggest where an item is most likely to be available if it is necessary to purchase it commercially. They are familiar with electric/electronic equipment and supplies and can suggest which electronic test equipment is appropriate for your application.

See a database of equipment available to you.

Haley Tucker (MacLean, Room 103)
Administrative Assistant, Academic and Student Affairs. Check with her about the availability of rooms for group meetings at Thayer. Feldberg Library has 2 study rooms on the 2nd floor. These are available on a first-come first-served basis.

Kenneth Clifford (Cummings, Room G23)
Copy room. Copying, faxing and binding are done in Room G23.
There are two required copies of written reports: 1 bound and 1 electronic on Thayer FS (details to follow). Out of courtesy to all and especially Mr. Ken Clifford, please make arrangements ahead of time for copying and binding — last minute deliveries of materials are extremely difficult, if not impossible. Mr. Clifford is generally gone from the Copy Room every afternoon delivering mail on campus. Please have only ONE member of your group take the materials to Mr. Ken Clifford for copying. Please ask for "Fastback" binding. Thank You!

Terry Bonee (Cummings, Room 206)
Development Assistant. He will be able to help put you in contact with alumni or companies who can make donations toward your project.

Debra Clifford (Cummings, Room 111)
Finance Center Specialist, Thayer Finance Office. All purchases must be channeled through the Finance Office as described in Purchasing Procedure. The Finance Office works with the Dartmouth College Purchasing Department and must follow approved procedures. Your compliance with these procedures is essential.

Purchasing Procedure

Each Group may spend up to a total of $500 on purchases of supplies and any travel that are essential for the success of the project. Your group's Teaching Assistant (TA) must approve all purchases. Any one item over $100 will need Prof. Collier's signature for approval. Thayer School will reimburse current rate mileage and will not cover costs of meals. Prof. John Collier must approve any travel expenses. Please visit the Finance Office for purchase order forms.

Your team is expected to keep careful track of all expenses. Please elect one group member to keep track of expenses as well as e-mailing your TA each week with what you've spent. To avoid confusion, it is imperative that the following procedure be followed for all purchases. Depending upon the cost of the materials and expected source of supply, one of the following procedures will apply:

A Dartmouth College credit card is available in the Finance Office (Cummings, Room 111). Please do not take the credit card until you are ready to place the order. When you receive the credit card, your student ID will be required to be left until the credit card is returned. A credit card form will be given to record your purchase and must be returned with the credit card, THIS IS THE ONLY RECORD OF THE TRANSACTION. The individual cardholder is responsible for the card until it is returned. As the responsible person, you are the only one who can make purchases with the card.

If you personally pay for small items for your project, you may bring ORIGINAL receipts to the Finance Office (Cummings, Room 111) for reimbursement.

If the vendor does not accept a credit card, you may be able to use a Purchase Order. This allows you to charge materials to Dartmouth College. Most companies accept purchase orders as standard purchasing procedure. To use this method you must:

  • Request a Purchase Order number from the Finance Office. The number will be given to you on a worksheet called a "Preliminary Requisition" form.
  • Before placing the order, complete the worksheet with the required information.
  • After the order is placed, return the worksheet to the Accounting Office for processing.
  • Any packing slips that you receive with the order should be turned in to the Finance Office to be kept on file.

*If you request a PO number and then decide not to use it, please return the form.

C.O.D. orders cannot be accepted. If an order arrives C.O.D., it will be rejected and returned to the vendor unless the individual who placed the order agrees to pay for it personally.

All items ordered by mail or express delivery should be sent to:

Thayer School of Engineering
Dartmouth College
14 Engineering Drive
Hanover, NH 03755


The proposals, the progress report, and final presentation will be digitally recorded. You will be emailed a link to a server to view your presentations. The TAs must watch the presentations with the groups and lead a critique with suggestions for improvement as appropriate.


Mailboxes for each group will be set up in Room 119 Cummings.


I encourage students with disabilities, including invisible disabilities like chronic diseases, learning disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities to discuss with me after class or during my office hours appropriate accommodations that might be helpful to them.

The Student Accessibility Services (SAS, 646-9900) office works with students, faculty, staff, and the campus administration to ensure that the programs, services, and activities of Dartmouth College are accessible to, and usable by, students with disabilities.