This course at the Olin College of Engineering now runs through the Canvas learning system, but we are leaving some information on this webpage to give visitors and potential students an idea of the structure and flow of the class. In this course, students will practice analysis, design, construction, testing, and debugging of real electromechanical systems. Through a substantial multidisciplinary team project experience, students will apply those skills to engineering a complete mechatronic system of their own design. Every project will include a nontrivial mechanical system design, a nontrivial electronic system design, a microcontroller, and all hardware, firmware, and software components necessary for integration. Projects are subject to realistic materials, process, and budgetary constraints.

Our Pledge to You

We, the teaching team, make these promises to you, the students. We will strive to:

  1. Use class time effectively;
  2. Prepare before coming to class;
  3. Welcome and encourage different ways of understanding, knowing, and being;
  4. Use the most current scientific understanding of how people learn best in designing our class experiences;
  5. Adhere to our shared agreement around grading;
  6. Trust that you know yourself and your needs, interests, and values better than we do;
  7. Honor your decisions about class participation (meaning: we will not judge or guilt you about your choices but trust that you are considering needs -- yours and your team's -- and accept the consequences of your choices);
  8. Do plenty of fun and useful things during class time.

What We Expect of You

  1. Come to class on time
  2. Come to class prepared
  3. Be respectful
  4. Be professional
  5. Be generous with your ideas and time
  6. Help each other
  7. Be active participants in class discussions and design reviews
  8. Complete course surveys and feedback on time
  9. Take care of yourself - eat well, sleep, get some exercise (seriously).
  10. Come to class ready to work.
  11. Have fun!

Learning Objectives

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Work effectively as a member of a project team.
  • Develop design concepts and create technical specifications that address defined needs.
  • Balance trade-offs and make defensible choices among design alternatives.
  • Use modern tools to construct mechatronic systems.
  • Assess and select appropriate components for mechatronic circuits and systems.
  • Use written, oral, and graphical communication to convey design ideas and solutions, electronic system analyses, and experimental results.
  • Undertake an iterative prototyping process to improve design ideas.

Course Structure and Policies


35% mini-project assignments, 65% final project (deliverables at 2-week intervals)


During the first third of the semester, you will be working in groups of two or three on a series of three mini-projects in which you will gain experience working with the Arduino Uno R3 platform. The Arduino is an integrated system consisting of a microcontroller (ATmega328), a device to translate between USB and serial, and a number of input/ouput (sometimes referred to as GPIO or I/O) pins. The microcontroller is essentially a single-chip computer with a small amount of data and program memory, and a number of peripheral devices that are useful in embedded systems and computer interfaces. You will be learning how to build circuits around this chip, how to write firmware for it, how to program it, and how to use the peripherals that are most relevant to mechatronic systems. Some common mechatronic tasks you will undertake in the labs include sensing, actuation, and communication. Each mini-project group will submit a joint report. The report for a given mini-project will be due in the next class period after that mini-project is completed.


During the last two thirds of the semester, you will be working in a group of three to five students in the class on a design project that interests you. You will be forming your own teams based your interest in potential project ideas.

Project Phase Mechanics

At the start of the project phase of the course, each student will be required to submit at least one brief project preproposal sketching out a project idea. Teams will be formed based on shared interest in the most popular and feasible ideas. Project work will proceed in a series of four two-week “sprints.” Each sprint is preceded by a sprint planning session, and ends with a sprint review in which the team must present an integrated prototype that works well enough that they can get useful feedback from professors, course assistants, and their peers. The final sprint review will be the class “demo day.” At the end of the project, the team must submit a website documenting their system and the design and engineering process they used to create it.

Late Policy

Late assignments and project deliverables will be penalized at a rate of up to 10% per day or fraction thereof. Extensions requested at least 24 hours before the due date will almost always be granted. With the exception of unforeseeable events such as illness or family emergency, extensions requested within 24 hours of a due date will not be granted.

Project Budgets

Each project group will have a total project budget of $250 to cover the cost of materials, supplies, fabrication, and shipping. You are welcome to spend more than $250 on your projects, but you will be personally responsible for the additional costs.

Ordering Project Supplies

Electronic components should generally be ordered through the ECE Stockroom by submitting the Olin ECE Stockroom Parts Request Form.

Raw stock like acrylic, hardboard, aluminum and steel sheet metal, rod stock, and bar stock can be obtained from the "The Stock Market" on the first floor of the Academic Center outside the main shop. Fasteners are available on the prototyping cart in classroom and also in The Hardware Cabinet next to The Stock Market on the first floor of the AC.

To purchase other types of supplies you might need, there are two options. One option is to fill out the Request to Process Order Form found in Canvas, which is an Excel spreadsheet. You can fill it out and e-mail it to the course instructors and we will forward it on to one of the administrative assistants for processing.

Another option is to purchase them yourself (trying to use our tax-exempt status when possible) and get reimbursed. To do so, you will need to provide original receipts, fill out a copy of the Student Reimbursement Form found in Canvas, have one of the course instructors sign it, and turn it in to one of the Academic Life administrators listed on the Canvas site. Please note that Olin will not reimburse you for purchases made from another student in the class. In such cases, the student who made the original purchase and has the original receipt should seek reimbursement from the College. Please also note that you must have direct deposit set up with the College to be reimbursed. The College strongly discourages the use of expedited shipping, and will usually not reimburse for overnight shipping. Please plan your orders accordingly!

Handouts (Historic)

Sample Schedule

Week Date Due In-class
One 8/30 Lab 0 Lab 0 (Lab 1 Assigned)
Two 9/3 None Work on Lab 1
9/6 None Work on Lab 1
Three 9/10 Lab 1 Lab 2 Assigned
9/13 None No class (Olin Monday)
Four 9/17 Work on Lab 2
9/20 Work on Lab 2
Five 9/24 Work on Lab 2
9/27 Work on Lab 2
Complete weekly feedback form (required)
Six 10/1 Lab 2. Lab 3 Assigned
10/4 Individually submit 3 ideas to the project ideation Google Spreadsheet Work on Lab 3
Complete weekly feedback form (required)
Seven 10/8 Submit the Team Formation Survey by 5:00pm 10/9/18.
Final Project Description distributed
Complete weekly feedback form (required)
Eight 10/15 Lab 3
Project Preproposal (due by 5:00pm 10/14)
Project Kickoff (Slide Deck)
Sprint 1 Kickoff
10/18 Complete weekly feedback form (required)
Nine 10/22
10/25 Sprint Review 1
Sprint Review Rubric (used for grading)
Sprint 2 Kickoff
Complete weekly feedback form (required)
Ten 10/29 Sprint 1 Peer and Self Assessment
11/1 Complete weekly feedback form (required)
Eleven 11/5
11/8 Sprint Review 2 Sprint 3 Kickoff
Complete weekly feedback form (required)
Twelve 11/12 Sprint 2 Peer and Self Assessment
11/15 Complete weekly feedback form (required)
Thirteen 11/19
11/22 Sprint 3 Review Sprint 4(ish) Kickoff
Complete weekly feedback form (required)
Fifteen 12/3 Sprint 3 Peer and Self Assessment
Complete weekly feedback form (required)
Sixteen 12/10 Sections 1&2 DEMO DAY! 12pm - 3pm
12/11 Sections 3&4 DEMO DAY! 9am - 11am
12/13 Websites Due by 5:00pm