Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question?  See if it's answered below.  If not, send us an email! 
Where can I access information about the Design Track?
We regularly are updating this webpage to include all up-to-date information. A number of other questions can be answered by viewing the Design Track Curriculum.
What kind of flexibility do students have with the curriculum? Could relevant classes from other engineering departments (i.e. environmental) count towards personal enrichment courses?
All curriculum related questions can likely be answered by reviewing the Design Track Curriculum. A list of all tentatively planned elective course offering can be found here. Additional related optional courses may be approved on a petition basis.  You can also consider enrolling in the Design Pathways option, available in all ME Tracks.  The Design Pathway allows you to complete the three course (APD, Grad Design I & II) sequence as enrichment/elective credits in the other ME Tracks.
When will Advanced Product Design be offered? 
The revised Advanced Product Design (APD) course will be offered during the Spring Semester. Admission to the Advanced Product Design class will include review of a resume and cover letter.  The cover letter should communicate to the faculty why you are interested in consumer product design, describe past design experiences, if you intend to complete the design track, what you hope to get out of this class and convey why you, over the other applicants for the course, deserve to be selected.  Your resume (two-page maximum) should include descriptions of your past design experiences, GPA, previous coursework, etc.  Materials should be submitted electronically to Professor Rentschler (mark.rentschler@colorado.edu), for review by the design faculty, by November 1st. November 1st is a hard deadline, applications received after November 1st will not be considered.  Admission decisions will be returned to you by November 15th. At that time you will be given access to register for the class.
What are the typical products focused on in Advanced Product Design? 
In this course you will be paired with several other students (teams of ~3 students depending on product scope) to design a new product or improve an existing consumer product.  You will be required to apply the knowledge learned in each of the topics areas as it applies to your product throughout the course.
When will the Graduate Design projects course be offered?
The Graduate Design projects course sequence begins in the Fall Semester. This is a two-semester course that includes both the Fall and Spring Semesters.  Advanced Product Design is a pre-requisite for this course. The Grad Design projects course will focus on industry sponsored projects. Each team will likely include 3-4 students per team depending upon the scope of the project. There may be opportunities to secure employment with companies that sponsor projects. There will also be a series of lectures in this class covering such topics as project management, risk management, testing, compliance, etc.
What are the upcoming projects for the Graduate Design projects course? 
We will not know the projects for the upcoming Grad Design course sequence until the beginning of the summer. Current Grad Design projects (2011/2012) are sponsored by Covidien, Caridian BCT, Medtronic, Agilent, and Sandia National Lab. In the near future, we will post more information about past projects to provide a feel for the types of projects offered.
What workspace is provided for MS students in the Design Track? 
Space is provided for students in Grad Design course for fabrication, assembly, and testing in the Fleming Active Learning (FAL) Laboratory and Durning Laboratory. Check out more details in the Facilities section.
Can I pursue research if enrolled in the Design Track?
Thesis Research is not provided by enrollment in this Design Track. If you are interested in pursuing a Research Thesis you will need to find a faculty member to be your advisor. If you choose this Research Thesis option, you can substitute the 6 Thesis credit hours (MCEN 6959) for the Graduate Product Design projects course.  However, you will also be required to enroll in MCEN 5208 (Introduction to Research) if pursuing Thesis Research. This course, MCEN 5208, can satisfy one of the two optional core courses. We encourage students to either complete the Graduate Product Design projects course or Thesis Research, but not both. You would not need to make this determination until after the first spring semester when you’ve completed Advanced Product Design.  If you choose to complete a thesis, this thesis must be a design thesis (including design and fabrication work). For the thesis to be approved, a one-page abstract and proposed work plan need to be submitted to the design faculty. This proposal should be submitted as early as possible, but no later than the end of the student's second semester. Approval is not guaranteed, so please be proactive in submitting this proposal as soon as possible. In addition, one of the design faculty must be on the student’s thesis committee.
Who is doing research in “design” in the Department?
Very little research in “design” is funded by any government agency and thus, very few faculty have research programs built around “product design.” However, a number of faculty have MS level research projects that include elements of “design”. Please contact faculty pursuing research that is of interest to you, if you choose the Thesis Research option. You would not need to make this determination until after the first spring semester when you’ve completed Advanced Product Design.
Are there opportunities for master's students to work as TAs or RAs?
This may exist if you choose to pursue the Research Thesis option. However, to pursue these opportunities you will need to find a Research Thesis Advisor and go through the normal application process.
Is this program accredited?
This Design Track is one of a number of Graduate MS Tracks offered by the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The Design Track is a focused area of study and not specifically a degree. After successful completion of the Track, you will receive an MS in Mechanical Engineering. The undergraduate degree program in ME is accredited by ABET. ABET does not accredit graduate engineering programs. Thus, this new track is not accredited, just like any other graduate program.
Can I bring in my own project for the Graduate Product Design projects course sequence?
Yes, you may be able to obtain an industry sponsored project. However, you need to contact Professor Rentschler as soon as possible in order to make this happen. There are contracts that must be established with the sponsoring company, etc. You may bring in an entrepreneurship project but would need to obtain funding and other student personnel to work with you. You will need to contact Professor Rentschler as soon as possible so that he can advise you on how to make this happen.
Can I take the Advanced Product Design class if I have not completed Senior Design?
Yes, admission to the Advanced Product Design class will include review of a resume and cover letter.  However, if you are CU BS/MS student, you will not be able to complete Grad Design until completing Senior Design, not simultaneously. The cover letter should communicate to the faculty why you are interested in consumer product design, describe past design experiences, if you intend to complete the design track, what you hope to get out of this class and convey why you, over the other applicants for the course, deserve to be selected.  Your resume (two-page maximum) should include descriptions of your past design experiences, GPA, previous coursework, etc.   Materials should be submitted electronically to Professor Rentschler (Mark.Rentschler@Colorado.edu), for review by the design faculty, by November 1st.  Admission decisions will be returned to you by November 15th. At that time you will be given access to register for the class.
Is this a program in Industrial Design?
No. The focus of this Graduate Design Program is on design engineering. Specifically, this program focuses (from an engineering perspective) on understanding the user and the user environment, idea generation, concept evaluation, and integrating these areas into engineering design of products.

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Mechanical Engineering

University of Colorado Boulder

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