The Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT has been at the forefront of several educational revolutions over the decades, bringing our hallmark creativity and forward thinking to our classrooms in innovative ways. While we are most renowned for our top-notch research and interest in solving the grand challenges facing our society, our top priority has always been preparing MechE students to go forth and become inventors, innovators, and engineering leaders.
We strive to provide our students with as many meaningful hands-on learning experiences as possible, because we believe that making and doing add a crucial element to the process of learning, putting the science and math behind mechanical engineering into context and engaging students on a level that sparks true creativity and education. That is why we offer so many project-based classes (such as 2.007, 2.008, 2.009, 2.00b, 2.12, 2.678, 2.75, 2.78, and 2.739, among others) and why we continue to add more of them to the curriculum, such as 2.S999 and 2.S994. It is also why we jumped on the chance to introduce online courses into our curriculum via the edX platform, starting with 2.01x: Elements of Mechanics and 2.03x: Dynamics.
Digital learning offers our students several benefits, including instant feedback and online forums, but perhaps even more importantly, it enhances the residential educational programs we offer to our on-campus students by changing the focus of class time from lecturing to more meaningful hands-on education.
In this issue of MechE Connects, you will read about the innovative educational initiatives the Department has kickstarted over the years, from the hands-on robotics competitions of 2.007 that swept the globe to the digitization of residential courses like that of i2.002, the first concurrently run online and on-campus course at MIT.
Our faculty members are award-winning educators and mentors, as well as leading researchers, and have had a big hand in these advancements as they follow their passion for superior education. Professor Sanjay Sarma is leading the online education revolution at the Institute level as the director of the Office of Digital Learning; Professor Dave Gossard is the first full-time professor to transform a MechE course into an MITx course; and Professor Sang-Gook Kim is teaching a course that incorporates a low-cost 3D printer recently developed by Associate Professor Nick Fang – a great example of our commitment to classroom-integrated research.
I hope you enjoy reading about our great educational initiatives, and, as always, I thank you for your continued support of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT.
Gang Chen, Carl Richard Soderberg Professor of Power Engineering and Department Head