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Enabling Machine Design Innovation among Freshman Mechanical Engineering Students

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Design throughout the Mechanical Engineering Curriculum I

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Anurag Purwar Stony Brook University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Purwar received his Ph.D. from State University of New York at Stony Brook and his B. Tech from IIT Kanpur, both in Mechanical Engineering. His research interests are in machine design area with a focus on kinematic design of robots and mechanisms, CAD/CAM, and application of Computational Geometry, Virtual Reality (VR), Computer Graphics and Visualization in Design Engineering.

Dr. Purwar's research work has been published in several international journals and conferences and he is the recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching by Stony Brook University. His research has been funded by National Science Foundation (NSF), NY-state SPIR, -Center for BioTechnology, -SensorCAT, SUNY Research Foundation, SUNY Office of Provost, and numerous industry partners. His work on the interactive dimensional synthesis of planar 6R mechanisms won him a best paper award at the 2009 ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences (IDETC).

He has been twice elected as a member of the ASME Mechanisms and Robotics committee and served as the Program Chair for the 2014 ASME Mechanisms and Robotics Conference, as the Conference Chair for the 2015 ASME Mechanisms and Robotics Conference and has served as symposium and session chairs for many ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences. He is the general Conference Co-Chair for the 2016 ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences (IDETC/CIE).

Dr. Purwar is also the department's representative to the NY state-funded Strategic Partnership for Industrial Resurgence (SPIR) program. As the SPIR representative, he identifies and coordinates projects between the department and Long Island based industries. SPIR projects include joint proposals for federal funding, manufacturing and quality assurance improvements, research and development, and testing and evaluation.

He won a SUNY Research Foundation Technology Accelerator Fund (TAF) award, which enabled him to develop a multifunctional Sit-to-Stand-Walker assistive device for people afflicted with neuromuscular degenrative diseases or disability. The technology and the patent behind the device has been licensed to Biodex Medical Systems for bringing the device to institutional market. See Governor Cuomo's announcement at

Dr. Purwar gave an invited TEDx talk on Machine Design Innovation through Technology and Education (available at, which focused on enabling democratization of design capabilities, much needed for invention and innovation of machines by uniting the teaching of scientific and engineering principles with the new tools of technology.

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In this paper, the author is presenting his experience creating and teaching a new Freshman Design Innovation class for Mechanical Engineering students at Stony Brook University (SUNY) as well as developing a Machine Design app for iOS and Android platforms being called MotionGen that enables students to perform kinematic design of four-bar planar linkage mechanisms that can execute desired paths or motions.

Design is a creative endeavor of Engineers involving systematic creation of artifacts whose form and function achieve stated objectives and meet specified constraints. Engineering educators have determined that there is a critical need to introduce design concepts and projects early in a student's education, promote teamwork, and introduce modern engineering tools. The National Academy of Engineer's "The Engineer of 2020" report concludes that the passive, lecture-based instruction should be replaced or supplemented by active, integrated, project-based learning with significant design component. At the same time, recent years have seen a renaissance of maker movement, hobby shops, and economically successful trends enabled by democratization of manufacturing (3D printers and services), open-source software and hardware, and funding platforms. These trends have set up a perfect playground for engineering students to learn Engineering concepts and acquire valuable skills in a fun-filled design-oriented context. However, this goal would remain unmet unless there is a corresponding democratization of design capabilities. The National Academy of Engineering has declared “Engineer the tools of scientific discovery” as one of the grand challenges for engineering. An early stage, critical goal in the machine design process is generation, evaluation, and analysis of mechanism design concepts that can realize a given task. Lack of a systematic theory and simple, intuitive tools that allow both novice and experienced designers to design mechanisms for machine design applications has made achieving this goal difficult. However, the recent research results of the author in machine design and the use of intuitive multi-touch devices like iPads in education have the potential to be powerful enabler of design innovations. The author has implemented his recently developed algorithms for simultaneous type and dimensional synthesis of linkages into MotionGen, an app for designing planar four-bar linkage mechanisms. He has also created a new Freshman Design Innovation class that revolves around teaching and enabling freshman students to innovate mechanical devices by designing mechanisms using the app, assembling them into a 3D printed or laser-cut robot chassis, and finally programming them using a take-home Microcontroller Mechatronics kit. This paper presents the details of this class and the app and shows how Mechanical Engineering Educators could benefit from the resources developed by the author.

Purwar, A. (2016, June), Enabling Machine Design Innovation among Freshman Mechanical Engineering Students Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26952

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