MAE 156A Syllabus

Fundamental Principles of Mechanical Design I

Winter 2017

Lectures Tuesday and Thursday, 3:30pm-4:50pm, HSS Room 1330 (BOTH Sections A00 and B00)

Lab Sections: Weeks 1-3 in EBU2-311, Weeks 4-10 in EBU2-B35


  • Complete Pair Signup by Thursday 2/8 BEFORE class. Students who do not have a partner, will be require to complete optimization by themselves. No 3 student teams allowed. If you  need a partner, contact the TAs for match-making services (Daniel Yang <djyang@ucsd.edu> and Michael Ishida <mishida@eng.ucsd.edu>).
  • Additional, screws, angle brackets, and clamps have arrived. ONLY take what is absolutely needed for your setup.
  • Hardware demonstration on Tuesday 2/13.
    • Setup ready to go before class time at 3:30pm
    • Instructor will meet with teams in a randomized order. You will have 3 minutes to explain your optimization and demo your hardware.
    • Students can repeat a demo to a TA or tutor up until 4:50pm
    • Volunteers can demo to instructors starting at 2:30pm

      Optimization Demo

                The code that runs the motor up and down and calculates your scores will be provided.


  • 5 hubs (used to attach fishing line pulleys and geared pulleys)
  • 3 shafts
  • 6 shaft collars (used to keep shafts from sliding)
  • 2 aluminum pulleys
  • 4 acrylic pulleys (when you swap one out, please return it to the stacks in EBU II 312)
  • 4 ball bearings (if you have three shafts, use 4 ball bearings and 2 bronze bushings)

Class Overview:

Fundamental principles of mechanical design and the design process. Application of engineering science to the design and analysis of mechanical components. Initiation of team design projects that culminate in MAE 156B with a working prototype designed for a real engineering application. 

The class website will be used to convey all important class information and communication from the instructor.  Homework assignments, sample solutions, class notes and demonstrations will be posted on this website.

Please read the MAE 156A Student Guide to get an overview of our education objectives and how to do well in the course.


  • Homework: 22.5%
  • Mechatronics Project open-loop: 22.5%
  • Machine shop project: 10%
  • Midterm: 20%
  • Sponsored Project: 20% 
  • iClicker class participation: 5% (75% for attendance with 100% for correct answer)
  • Peer Review will be implemented for the sponsored project team and will weight the team score.
Late Assignments
  • Late assignments will be penalized by 20% and will not be accepted more than 2 days late.
  • Assignments will be considered late 5 minutes after the start of the lecture or lab when they are due.


  • Typically two per week, one for lecture and one for lab.
    • Lecture homework due at the beginning of lecture. 
    • Section (aka Lab) assignments are due at the beginning of your lab section. 
  • Completed in report format, discuss your answers and explain your solution as needed.
  • Hard copies of homework must be turned in and graphs must be generated from Matlab or similar plotting program (not hand drawn).
  • Show all work and include a cover page. Include all plots and answer all questions.
  • At end of report, include an appendix with printouts of matlab code used to generate your results.
  • Any questions on grading should be raised within one week of grades posting
  • In any assignment, credit to teammate and outside contributions should be noted.
  • Keep copies of all assignments turned in, you will need results for future assignments. 

Midterm: TBD

Sponsored Project Finals Week Risk Reduction Presentation: Thursday 03/20/18, 3pm-6pm, Location TBD                          

Class Meeting Times:

Tuesday and Thursday, 3:30pm-4:50pm, HSS Room 1330 (BOTH Sections A00 and B00)

Instructor and TA Contact Information


Nathan Delson, PhD
Office Hours: After lecture or by appointment.

Jerry Tustaniwskyj, PhD
Office Hours: After lecture or by appointment.

Michael Ishida
Office Hours: Weds 11:00am-1:00p

Daniel Yang
Office Hours: Weds 11:00am-1:00p

Location: EBU2 311

Design Studio Tutors
Mackenzie Cottle
Marshall Garcia

Machine Shop Tutors

Erik Cahill
Christopher Bayag
Dayan Kahandawa Arachchi
Jingying Chen

Mechatronics Tutors
Aryo Jahromi
Office hours Thursday 11:00a-1:00p, Sunday 3:00p-5:00p

Yanjun (Nick) Pan
Office hours Wednesday, Friday 3:00p-5:00p

    Homework Office Hours in EBU2-311 (or Design Studio):

    • Wednesday 11:00am-1:00pm

    Mechatronic Office Hours in EBU2-311 (or Design Studio):

    • Wednesday 3:00p-5:00p
    • Thursday 11:00a-1:00p
    • Friday 3:00p-5:00p
    • Sunday 3:00p-5:00p

    Engineering Staff:

    • Chris Cassidy, ccassidy@ucsd.edu, Design Studio in EBU2-315
    • Stephen Roberts, steveroberts@ucsd.edu, Electronics Shop in EBU2-328
    • Thomas Chalfant, tchalfant@ucsd.edu, Machine Shop in EBU2-B31
    • Ian Richardson, irichardson@eng.ucsd.edu, Machine Shop in EBU2-B31
    • Greg Specht, gspecht@eng.ucsd.edu, EBU2-329

    Lab Locations:

    • Design Studio, EBU2 RM 315
    • Mechatronics Lab, EBU2 RM 311
    • Machine shop, EBU2 RM B35
    • Electronics Shop in EBU2 RM 328 

    Design Studio Working Hours

    A schedule of when the Design Studio is open for general use is posted outside of the door.

    In general, it will be open during normal business hours Mon-Fri. The studio can only remain open if there is engineering staff present, and sometimes they get called away to take care of other lab duties. Therefore, sometimes the Design Studio may be closed during normal business hours. 

    The studio will remain open during TA office hours, at which times Design Studio assistants have been scheduled to keep the fabrication area open.

    ACMS Lab Access

    You can find the door code to the ACMS computer labs in EBU2 (203, 205, and 239) by using the on-line Account Lookup link under Tools at http://acms.ucsd.edu . Your will need to click on the details button for the course specific account.

    OSD Accommodations

    Students requesting accommodations for this course due to a disability must provide a current Authorization for Accommodation (AFA) letter issued by the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) which is located in University Center 202 behind Center Hall.  Students should present their AFA letters to Faculty (please make arrangements to contact me privately) and to the OSD Liaison (Sandra de Sousa - EBU2-Rm.169) in the department at least two weeks prior to an exam to ensure that accommodations may be arranged.

    Contact the OSD for further information:

    T: 858.534.4382

    E: osd@ucsd.edu

    W: http://disabilities.ucsd.edu

    Dec 28, 2015, 11:01 AM