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Learn why this course was developed, how our curriculum is unique, and how we personalize every student’s education.

This website was designed specifically by our students with you in mind.

Find out who would most benefit from this website in this video.

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Get to know Prof Delagrammatikas’ teaching and research interests here.

Learn More About This Unique Course

Description: Students define a hands-on project of their choice that would prepare them for research in their preferred master’s study concentration.  The design process is employed to identify a problem, formulate it, propose design alternatives and rank them, produce and test prototypes, refine and iterate on the selected design.

The experiments that are developed are incorporated within the graduate and undergraduate curriculum.  The course is composed of equal parts design, technical content, and communication skills (including an online portfolio). Projects can be further developed during the subsequent semester to fulfill the master’s project requirement during the Poster Expo.

3 credits

  • Prerequisites: Graduate standing or second semester in 4+1 Program
  • Required course for MEMS MS students
  • Strongly encouraged for MEMS MEng students

Objectives: After taking this course, students will be able to:

  • apply the engineering design process to an open-ended problem, including iterative prototyping,
  • develop teamwork skills through project management,
  • communicate effectively through oral and written means,
  • apply trouble-shooting to physical and virtual designs,
    perform trade-off analyses (cost-benefit, safety, ethics, etc),
  • and create an online portfolio for professional social media

A general outline of the weekly topics covered in this course are as follows:

Feel free to review the extended syllabus here:


In Spring 2020, MEMS embarked on an ambitious journey to reinvent personalized education.  Rooted deeply in the graduate capstone courses that Prof Sophia Santillan and Prof Nico Hotz developed the previous academic year, this course was developed to further enhance student learning.  Prof George Delagrammatikas joined this course in Spring 2020 to assist in the development of hands-on experiences for the students while also bringing team-teaching to the course.

Much like many schools, we are putting our coursework online for you to use at your convenience.  The difference at Duke is that we will show you how to build your own laboratory, give you a guided tour through our curriculum, and show you what it means to be a Duke mechanical engineer.

Consistent with the Pratt School of Engineering’s motto, our students are ‘Outrageously Ambitious’ and take on projects that are challenging, inspiring, and are centered on making the world a better place for society as a whole.

We embrace and celebrate diverse ways of thinking about problems, give the students a voice in defining the types of projects they perform, and always include classmates’ feedback in the problem-solving process.  Students present their work every week and are required to keep a journal of their work.  This website distills their project work for all to learn.

A founding premise behind this course was to develop accessible learning materials for those everywhere, regardless of socioeconomic background, demographics, age, or abilities.