The senior-level mechanical engineering design class at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is 2.009: Product Engineering Processes. Students work in large teams over a semester to develop mechanical and electro-mechanical alpha prototypes for a wide variety of novel consumer products. Class features include a comprehensive, interactive web site; a theme-based approach to project scoping; and the early stages of product development from opportunity identification to product definition to designing and building an alpha prototype. To further enhance the applied learning focus of the class, a service learning teaching approach has been adopted and studied for the past four years. While the approach initially posed some challenges, most students responded positively and, after some course infrastructure adjustments, there have been strong positive outcomes in 2004 and 2005, particularly in student attitudes. Assessment over the four years shows certain trends including particular benefits for female students. Additionally, in 2004, students’ interest in engineering-oriented careers increased significantly over the course of the semester. This impact appears to have carried over into students’ job choices upon graduation, and may have positively shaped the goals and expectations of students entering the class in the subsequent year.

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