Precision Engineering Principles for Mechanical Design

Innovative Precision Product Design

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Are you involved in designing mechanical mechanisms, systems or products? Do you want to catalyze a culture of innovation in your organization? This course will take you through the fundamentals of developing innovating precision machines using the deterministic design process and philosophy, which fosters creativity and focuses on applying physics-based principles while minimizing risk. Classroom lectures, hands-on lab exercises and case studies will focus on how to achieve robust, high quality designs that efficiently balance precision and cost. Whether you focus on subsystems or are responsible for complete products, this course has something for you and attendees are encouraged to share their own design challenges.

Precision is found in all types of machines, whether the desired accuracy is in nanometers or millimeters, and 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 performance 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 system. Each topic is covered with respect to its physics of operation, mechanics (strength, deformation, thermal effects), and accuracy, repeatability, and resolution.

Participation and teamwork are integral to the success of this course. In the spirit of the MIT motto Mens et Manus, you will demonstrate practical application of the theory (mens) through hands-on conceptualization, fabrication, and testing (manus) of a small precision system. Participants are encouraged to bring their own design challenges on paper or in a box and, together, we will use the deterministic design process to develop solutions.

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

Want to get a preview of what you'll learn on campus?

As a primer to this Professional Education course, participants will be granted access to Prof. Slocum’s online Precision Machine Design course. Participants can review presentation slides, watch the course videos as needed, and test their design knowledge with quizzes. Results will help the instructors tailor the course to address particular areas of interest and weakness. Access will be provided by MIT Professional Education upon payment for the course and be maintained for six months after the course.

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

This course was previously titled Innovative Precision Product Design.

Earn a Professional Certificate in Innovation and Technology

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

Lead Instructor(s): 

Nevan Hanumara


TBD 2019

Course Length: 

5 Days

Course Fee: 





  • Closed

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.

Registration for the 2018 session has closed. We'll open for the 2019 session this fall.

Participant Takeaways: 

Takeaways from this course include:

  • A structured deterministic design process
  • Translating an opportunity into requirements and specifications
  • Applying 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 who is responsible for designing innovative mechanical hardware. They should be equally willing to go hands-on and get dirty as to enable others to launch their own development efforts. The deterministic design process and FUNdaMENTALS of precision product design are widely-applicable. We are industry-agnostic and welcome participants from fields as varied as consumer products, medical devices, and oil and gas equipment.

Participants often 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.

Course 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 2018 course schedule (pdf)

This course runs 8:30 am - 5:00 pm on Monday, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Tuesday through Thursday, and 9:00 am - 2:00 pm on Friday.

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."

Senior Product Design Engineer, Apple Inc.

"I am truly grateful for having had the opportunity to spend a week at MIT and gotten the chance to interact, in-person and in a small-classroom atmosphere, with Dr. Slocum and Dr. Hanumara. The material covered in class was engaging and extremely applicable to the challenges faced every day by the practicing Product Design Engineer. Thanks."



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