2.007 is the official number for Design and Manufacturing I at MIT,
but it is also commonly called 2.70(two-seventy). It is the first
design class for MIT mechanical engineering students, and is generally taken the spring of sophomore year. While the class does have a lecture component, the main focus is on the 270 contest.
Each year, the teaching staff, currently headed by Prof. Alex Slocum creates a different contest, usually involving manipulating balls, pucks, or other objects on a custom made contest table.
During the first few days of the class, the details of that year's contest is announced, and each student receives a kit. The kit contains a small fixed number of motors, actuators, gears, shafts, structural material(wood, aluminum, steel and plastic) and assorted widgets. The students are also given access to a selection of fasteners and a machine shop.
Using just these materials, a little help from the professors, older students who help teach, and the machinists who run the machine shop, the students need to have a working machine for the contest at the end of term. The process is divided into 3 roughly even sections.
- You try to come up with as many different ideas as possible and as many variations of those that you can find. You then do the basic high level physics for those ideas to see which ones are practical or effective. You then use formalized weighting systems to try to justify to yourself building your favorite design instead of a boring machine that will almost defiantly do ok, but is less interesting, like a plow.
- Once you are set on your idea, you need to to create a complete design and set of instructions for making it. After you have figured out what all of the module are, and verified that they could work via math and physics or creating a prototype, you need to do the detailed design. Traditionally this process involves drafting style drawing, but in recent years, it involves using solid-modeling programs instead(this has reached the point that the professors have stopped teaching drawing in any depth). You then create a process plan which is a step by step set of instructions of how to manufacture each part, in order, out of the correct material from the contest kit.
- Theoretically you have your raw materials from your kit and a set of process plans you made with your design. So all you have left to do is machine the parts and assemble them. In practice, your design may not be finished, or need more work. Your parts may be harder to manufacture then you thought. You may have messed up and need to improvise something different for a part, and once you are finished and have a complete machine you need to learn to drive it on the table, and adjust it more to maximize your possible score for the contest.
After the machines are competed and impounded comes the contest. Machines are run against each other, generally one on one until there is one winner at the end. Often, the top finishers are invited to participate in an international design contest over the summer.