ME101: Introduction to Mechanical Engineering

Course Syllabus for "ME101: Introduction to Mechanical Engineering"

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This course will introduce you to the field of mechanical engineering and the relationships between physics, mathematics, communications, and sciences which inform the study, design, and manufacture of mechanical products and systems.  The course is divided into four units.  In the first unit, you will learn how mechanical engineering is broadly defined, what mechanical engineers do, and what technical capabilities they have.  We will also review some basic principles from mathematics and physics that you will apply in any discipline of engineering.  In the second unit, you will learn about the ethical considerations and technical communication skills necessary for engineering work.  You will revisit these issues in more detail in several courses within the Mechanical Engineering curriculum.  The third unit focuses on computational tools for engineering problems.  In Unit 3 you will learn about a specific open source computational environment (Scilab) and the application of that environment to some commonly encountered engineering problems.  Finally, in the fourth unit, you will apply some of the concepts you learned throughout the course to a small design project that employs mechanical engineering principles.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • define mechanical engineering;
  • describe some of the subfields of mechanical engineering;
  • distinguish mechanical engineering from other types of engineering;
  • describe important components of engineering design and project management;
  • employ engineering measurements, units, and conversions;
  • demonstrate an understanding of engineering ethics and ethical dilemmas;
  • describe intellectual property and copyright issues in an engineering context;
  • perform basic oral and written technical communication according to the accepted standards of the mechanical engineering community;
  • perform several basic computations in Scilab, including matrix manipulations and nonlinear equation solving;
  • perform data analysis and display using Scilab; and
  • demonstrate an understanding of all of the above through execution of an engineering design project.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Be able to download and install Scilab.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Be competent in the English language.

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Course Information

Welcome to ME101 Introduction to Mechanical Engineering.  Below, please find general information on this course and its requirements. 
Course Designers: Ranjeet (Ron) Agarwala and Dr. Steve Gibbs
Peer Reviewer: Stephen Gibbs
Primary Resources: This course is composed of a range of free, online materials.  However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials.  This course will let you assess your interest in and aptitude for the field of mechanical engineering.  You will have the opportunity to survey problem areas for which expertise in mechanical engineering is valuable, learn some of the fundamentals of engineering calculations, and perform design activities for problem solving.  As you study mechanical engineering, this course may help you focus your attention on areas in which you need additional background review and in specific areas in which you may have some enthusiasm for learning more.

In order to pass this course, you will need to complete the final exam with a score of at least 70%.  Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it.  If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.
Time Commitment: You should be able to complete this course in approximately 106.5 hours.  Each unit includes a time advisory that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit.  These should help you plan your time accordingly.  It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit and then to set goals for yourself.  
Tips/Suggestions: (1) Get into a routine for studying the material and do a little each day.  (2) Unit 1 requires extensive calculations, so you may want to learn to make sketches of the situations involved.  (3) Unit 3 requires reading detailed material.  Dedication to and substantial practice of this material will likely benefit your later studies within the Mechanical Engineering curriculum.  Skim through all material first for scope, and then read for a more detailed understanding.  You may wish to revisit the complex parts several times after completing the course.
We encourage you to also take notes as you work through the course materials.  These notes will be useful as you prepare for the final exam.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.