Innovative Precision Product Design

Innovative Precision Product Design

Do you design mechanical products and systems? Do you want to catalyze a culture of innovation in your organization? The Innovative Precision Product Design course will take you through the FUNdaMENTALS of precision product design, starting with the deterministic design process and philosophy, which encourages creativity while minimizing risk, and then applying physics-based principles to the design of mechanical products. Classroom lectures, exercises, case studies, and teardowns will focus on how to design robust, high quality products that efficiently balance precision and cost.

Recognizing that precision is found in all types of products, regardless of whether the desired accuracy is in nanometers or millimeters, this course will teach you how to consider performance requirements, the effects of manufacturing variances, and potential failure modes during the engineering design stage, so as to ensure reliable operation, while meeting precision and cost targets. Specific machine element topics will include: linkages, screws and gears, actuators, structures, joints, and bearings. Error apportionment, tolerancing, and budgeting methods are presented to illustrate how machine elements are combined to produce a precision system. Each topic is covered with respect to its physics of operation, mechanics (strength, deformation, thermal effects), and accuracy, repeatability, and resolution.

In the spirit of the MIT motto Mens et Manus, you will demonstrate practical application of the theory (mens) through the conceptualization and fabrication (manus) of a small precision system. This will be complimented with other hands-on exercises.

Participation and teamwork is integral to the success of this course and you will be encouraged to share your design challenges. Together, we will use the deterministic design process and precision design principles to develop solutions. If you can carry it, we will welcome your hardware too.

We will provide ample networking opportunities and we expect that this course will be FUN!

Preparatory online learning:

In advance of this course, participants are asked to review Prof. Slocum’s online Precision Machine Design course, which provides a primer to core Innovative Precision Product Design material. Participants are asked to look at all the slides, watch the videos as needed, and attempt all section quizzes. Results will be reviewed by the instructors to help guide the focus of the course. The goal is to ensure that everyone has seen the material (but not necessarily mastered it), has identified particular areas of interest and weakness, and comes to class ready with questions! Access will be provided by MIT Professional Education upon payment for the course.

Participants should budget a maximum of 30 hours for this online component. Spending one solid weekend or a few hours per evening over the course of a few weeks should suffice.

MIT is committed to providing access to qualified students who have disabilities. If you need an accommodation, please contact us as soon as possible at

Earn a Professional Certificate in Innovation and Technology

Innovative Precision Product Design may be taken individually or as a core course for the Professional Certificate Program in Innovation and Technology.

Lead Instructor(s): 

Alexander Slocum
Nevan Hanumara


Jun 26, 2017 - Jun 30, 2017

Course Length: 

5 Days

Course Fee: 





  • Open

It is highly recommended that you apply for a course at least 6-8 weeks before the start date to guarantee there will be space available. After that date you may be placed on a waitlist. Courses with low enrollment may be cancelled up to 4 weeks before start date if sufficient enrollments are not met. If you are able to access the online application form, then registration for that particular course is still open.

This course has a preparatory online component - review the course description for information

Participant Takeaways: 

Takeaways from this course include:

  • A structured deterministic design process
  • Translating an opportunity into requirements and specifications
  • A[plying the fundamentals of advanced mechanical design
  • Conducting risk analyses and developing countermeasures
  • Strategies for innovating new products

Who Should Attend: 

The ideal participant is a leader, responsible for designing innovative mechanical hardware-based, who is equally willing to go hands-on and get dirty in order to enable others to launch their own development efforts. We are industry-agnostic and welcome participants from fields as varied as consumer products, medical devices, and oil and gas equipment. The deterministic design process and FUNdaMENTALS of precision product design are widely-applicable.

Ideal participants include those with titles such as VP of R&D, Director of Engineering, Manager Global Research, New Product Development Manager, Director of Corporate Innovation, and Design Engineer as well as their direct reports.

Participants should have a bachelor's or higher degree in engineering or substantial experience with making, and must be comfortable working in a hands-on environment. Participants should also have moderate experience with Excel.

Computer requirements:

Laptops with Excel are required for this course and it is suggested that you have a CAD program installed. Participants should wear clothing appropriate for a workshop environment (i.e. closed-toed shoes, hair tied back, higher-necked shirts, no long ties, etc.). Safety glasses will be provided.

Program Outline: 





Deterministic design process

Project introduction
Design development


Fundamental principles
Error budgeting



Machine elements

Group design review


Structures and integration





All fabrication materials will be provided.

Course Schedule: 

View 2016 course schedule (pdf)

This course runs 8:00 am - 5:00 pm on Monday, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Tuesday through Thursday, and 9:00 am - 3:00 pm on Friday. On Monday night there will be a networking/brainstorming session for participants to socialize and discuss problems they have encountered.

Participants’ Comments: 

President, Link Engineering and Design

"The course was very insightful regarding ways to rapidly assess concepts and design ideas. Making quick, intelligent, insightful decisions is a key to successful product design and getting it to market ahead of your competitors."

Senior Staff Engineer, John Deere Product Engineering Center

"Both Nevan and Dr. Slocum are truly knowledgeable and their enthusiasm and energy are fantastic. Their passion towards the topic made everyone want to participate with questions, shared experiences, and their own problems for collaboration."



This course takes place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We can also offer this course for groups of employees at your location. Please complete the Custom Programs request form for further details.


Fundamentals: Core concepts, understandings, and tools (60%) 60
Industry Applications: Linking theory and real-world (40%) 40

Delivery Methods: 

Lecture: Delivery of material in a lecture format (40%) 40
Discussion or Groupwork: Participatory learning (20%) 20
Labs: Demonstrations, experiments, simulations (40%) 40



Introductory: Appropriate for a general audience (20%) 20
Specialized: Assumes experience in practice area or field (70%) 70
Advanced: In-depth explorations at the graduate level (10%) 10