Liebenberg’s ME 270 introduces redesign into the curriculum
Last semester, Senior Lecturer Dr. Leon Liebenberg was tasked with teaching ME 270, Design for Manufacturability. Liebenberg made big changes to the syllabus in an effort to improve the course and get students more engaged.
Instead of the traditional semester-long project in which students form teams to design a product from scratch, Liebenberg introduced a new project called Redesign for Manufacturability. This assignment had students find an existing product and redesign it to be more cost-efficient and sustainable. After reverse-engineering their product, students were tasked with redesigning a component or sub-assembly of the product, and then fabricating these redesigned components in MechSE’s Innovation Studio.
Liebenberg also introduced a series of 10 mini-projects to encourage students to engage even further with course material.
The first nine mini-projects, which were team projects, gave the students a challenge based on various core topics in the syllabus. They were asked to investigate products made using specific manufacturing techniques, often by acquiring the products from a scrap yard. These projects were intended to prepare students for the final mini-project, a design challenge in which students take one of these products they previously analyzed and redesign it for recycling.
Liebenberg said that the goal of these changes was to get students emotionally invested in the course material.
“I want students to engage at an emotional level with the subject contents. I want them to feel the subject. It’s not just a product, this thing interacts with the environment. They have cost aspects, human aspects, and environmental aspects. I want them to dig deep, and not just at a cognitive level. It’s about empathizing with the client and empathizing with the product.”