A critical part of TDEC, The Drexel Engineering curriculum. First-year engineering students form groups of four or five and set out to solve an engineering problem. The primary purpose is to teach the students an understanding of how to approach engineering challenges and how to compose a report. They also learn the basics of group dynamics and oral presentation skills.

The first part of the project is the problem statement. Seemingly the easiest part, coming up with a researchable engineering problem is far more difficult than it sounds. Many students fall into the pitfall of writing the most probable solution into the problem. The difficulty of the remainder of the project is directly tied to quality of the problem statement used.

Next, students draft proposals, give oral presentations, and finally turn in final papers. The structure and style of the various deliverables are stressed to a far greater extent than the technical content of the paper. Since these papers are written by freshmen, with few college courses under their belt, they aren't looking for the utmost technical accuracy or feasibility.

Freshman design projects range in subject from the obscure to the everyday. Topics have included everything from a more efficient elevator to a portable clothing steamer. Most projects are improbable, and many go against the laws of physics. Watching the presentations if one has any background in engineering is quite entertaining.