The course ‘Introduction to Engineering Design’ is aimed at freshmen students entering Mechanical and Aerospace engineering. The course was restructured from its previous 3-credit lecture format to a 2 credit lecture coupled with a new 1 credit design laboratory. The laboratory project aims at giving the students experience in professional design, engineering practice, and teamwork. While the lecture presents an overview of the engineering profession and its practices, small student teams conduct a structured hands-on design project in the lab. The team assignment is the design, programming, and testing of autonomous mobile ‘Sumo’ robots. Each team develops and builds an autonomous robot, which will compete against the other teams’ robots at the end of the semester. Students find the robot project highly motivating and spend voluntarily several afternoons weekly working in the lab. Student enrollment has increased more than five-fold since course inception six years ago. The course is also being taught regularly to seniors at local high schools through distance education, further broadening the pool of future engineering students. The paper describes the lab course structure, organization, and student learning outcomes.

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