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Design Innovation Global network of designers, engineers and innovators challenging complex real world problems

photo by George Atanassov

The ever-evolving

Design Innovation course ME310 is an academic year long project-based design engineering course that began at Stanford University and has been operating continuously for over forty years. Originally created to provide engineering students with real life engineering challenges, the course has evolved over the ages to meet the changing demands of the labor market. Over its lifetime, the course has shifted from practical engineering experience to design of mechatronic systems to design innovation and global collaboration. Meanwhile, ME310 has gone beyond the hedges of Stanford University and is now being taught in four different continents and eight different countries. The course is now focused on teaching students the innovation methods and processes required for designers, engineers, and project managers of the future. Upon the completion of the course, students have acquired the skills necessary to be global innovation leaders. In ME310, student teams work on innovation challenges proposed by corporate partners for eight months. Through the projects, students go through an intense and iterative process of needfinding, ideation, and rapid prototyping to create and develop new product concepts. Company involvement provides the reality that is important for teams to improve their innovation abilities. In the end, teams deliver functional proof-of-concept prototypes along with in-depth documentation that not only capture the essence of designs but the learnings that led to the ideas. Every team in ME310 collaborates with another team from a foreign university for the duration of the project. The partnership adds diversity to the project teams and students are given the opportunity to experience true global collaboration, a skill required in this highly globalized world. All teams in ME310 start their projects at Stanford University where they participate in a design thinking workshop and experience the entrepreneurial culture of Silicon Valley.

(re)Define the problem Design never ends

Test with users Learn

Needfinding + benchmarking

Understand the users, design space

Prototype Build

Bodystorm Ideate

Our Approach to innovation The core pedagogy of ME310 is the Stanford Design Innovation Process that has fueled much of the entrepreneurial culture in the Silicon Valley. At the heart of the process is the notion that in order to innovate, one must understand the needs of the user and the context surrounding the design. Unlike most other engineering design courses, ME310 requires the students to get out into the field and interview users to understand people’s values as well as thoroughly benchmark existing products and technologies. By understanding the past and present, the students are able to design what the future can be.

Winter Quarter Make it real.


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Fall Quarter Make it up.



The design process in ME310, unlike many other design and development processes, is cyclical. By going through the process multiple times, not only does it maximize student learning, it maximizes project learning and the quality and depth of user insight for the student teams. The iterative nature assures that teams are not stuck on one idea for too long and that ideas are being continuously validated with end users through rapid prototyping and testing. “Fail early and fail often so you can succeed sooner,� is one of the key mantras for ME310ers.

Spring Quarter Make it happen.

Project handover to corporate partners.

By continuously weaving back and forth between the different phases of the design process, student teams are continuously challenged to move the design forward through prototypes, record their discovered knowledge through documentation, and preserve and communicate their vision through presentations.

Stanford University Design EXPErience

From a pool of ideas to a Proof-of-concept

prototype in just nine months Prototypes

Prototypes are the main vehicle of innovation in ME310, starting from the roughest prototypes in the fall to the refined prototypes in the spring. Throughout the course, students create numerous prototypes to articulate their vision and test their design assumptions. Through iterative prototyping, broad project statements are refined into concrete concepts, which are demonstrated through the final, fully functional proof-of-concept prototype.


Teams pour significant effort into documenting their learnings along the way. For each prototype created and tested to failure, there is significant learnings that not only influence the final innovation the teams create, but also provide the corporate partners with a valuable body of knowledge from which to extend the ME310 team efforts into new innovation projects. Every ten weeks, the design teams reflect and create a major design document for delivery to their corporate partners.


One of the largest challenges is driving innovation is effectively sharing the team’s vision of the future. Three times during the project, the student teams deliver formal presentations to the design community, including the corporate partners. Through these presentations, teams communicate the highlights of their innovation efforts and demonstrate the best of their prototyping efforts as the teams paint a compelling view of where their project support the corporate partner needs.

John Gedge Michael Karsch

Amine Bellakrid

Keven Richly

Tomoya Yamamoto

Marcelo Lopez Philipp Dobrigkeit

Sarah Fathallah

Matthias Uflacker

Thomas Kowark

Alexander Zeier

Chakib EL Haouzia

Julien Mauroy

Fernando Gonzalez

Tuukka Kingelin

Roukaya El Houda

Olmo Villegas Arturo Treviño

Vesa Lindroos

Véronique Hillen

Ole Rienow

Alejandro Ramirez Florencia Denti

Sushi Suzuki

Amina Alaoui

Christoph Thiele

Francisco Acosta

Tobias Rawald

Paul Mauduit

Stefan Hampel

Anthony Zhu

Falk Benke

Susanna Ollila Mathieu Chabasse

Marwan Khiat

Jenn Peterson

Claudio Hansberg

Shogo Suzuki

Khaled Sellami

Raphael Didier

Ryan Brooks

Kenji Nishito

Keijiroh Nagano

Matt Kandler

Shashank Sharma

Joules Gould

Mikelis Studers

Aurélien Sibiril Youssef Ahizoune

Quin Lai Isaac Castaneda

Min Ming Lo

Jessica Ji

Panu Keski-Pukkila

Josh Gafford Guillaume Thrierr

Rafael Mayani

Jack Ng

Miguel Ángel Velázquez

Sara Delgado

Marco Antonio Cruz

Trevor Clark

Pauliina Tenho Heikki Säteri

Tuukka Laurila

Yukino Jodai

Kelly Johnson

Carolina Gomez

Antti Sonninen

Katie Planey

Aaswath Raman

Travis Bow Xiao Ge

Andrea Delgado

Svante Suominen

Esa Nummijoki

Maria Kulse April Alexander Mark Cutkosky

Juan Ruiz

Tiia Suomalainen

Rafat Mehdi

Adrit Lath

Jeff Manian

Harri Toivonen

Santhi Elayaperumal

Andrés Cuellar

Abhishek Shiwalkar

Hector Cuellar

Stephany Fernández Andrés Torres

Larry Leifer

George Toye Daniel Jaramillo

Henrik Amberla

Julia Pettersson Hakava

Peter Kardassakis

Heikki Soininen

Tuuli Utriainen

Tuomas Sahramaa Lassi Laitinen

Mark Schar Manny Hundal

Alice Brooks

Lauri Repokari

Tom Zhuang

Alex Granieri

Alejandro Lopez Kat Nguyen

Shantanu Garg

Andres Mercado

Daniel García

Carlos Serrano

Ryan Anderson

Dominic Schlegel

Jaime Mayoral

Mamiko Nagao

Laura Timosaari

Yair Kollmann

Vikas Agrawal

Sakari Castren

Haruna Kawashima

Maria Camacho Deborah Schaub

Caroline Dohle

Tiziana Mauchle Matthias Huebner

Petra Monn

Rico Rinderknecht

Manuel Schoeni

Marc Schlegel

Patrick Keil

Christian Haueter

Jaime Aguilar

Stephanie Petersen

Tiziana Aiolfi Andreas Stockburger

Amanda Bachmann

Friederike Hoffmann

Falk Uebernickel

Fabian Bischof

Marco Brunori

Dominic Widmer

2010 - 2011

Philipp Skribanowitz

Pascal Kappeler Christophe Vetterli

Pasqual Vossberg

The Global community Students in ME310 come from different backgrounds and disciplines including various forms of engineering, industrial design, business and economics. The diversity assures that teams take multiple perspectives on any given challenge, increasing the probability of breakthrough discoveries and innovation. Many of the students are in their first or final year in the Master’s program (or the equivalent) and some are working towards their doctoral degree. All students have core competencies in their respective fields and many have prior design project experience in academia or industry. The instructors in ME310 are just as diverse as the students offering multiple points-of-view on engineering, design, and project management. All of them are passionate about letting the students design and innovate and will go beyond their professorial duty to assure that students are given the best possible environment to work in. Teaching assistants are also part of the teaching team, providing peer support and advice only possible by someone who has recently completed the course. The teaching team consists of over thirty professors, instructors, and teaching assistants who actively support the hundred or so students participating in ME310. In addition to the teaching team, industry liaisons and coaches are part of the teaching process in ME310 bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to the students. Liaisons are members of the company who interface with the students on a regular basis to provide the teams the corporate knowledge relevant to the project. Coaches are typically alumni of the course with relevant industry experience assigned to the student teams to provide feedback and access to relevant information through their social network. Coaches often meet with their teams bi-weekly.

Play. Pause. Rewind. Immerse facilitates idea sharing and collaboration of people who have very widely dispersed skills in professional illustration, design and writing. Immerse visualizes ideas, produces - matching auditory world, and lets them engage in an immersive experience of the idea all at once.

Reinventing The Wheel. “Audi drivers will be able to control the entertainment and navigation features of their car via simple gestures performed on the rim of the touch sensitive steering wheel.” Project Backround

The project began with the objective of designing a “Revolutionary Futuristic Concept” for the Audi Multimedia Interface (MMI) for the year 2020. The current Audi MMI controls are located in the car’s center console and consist of 17 buttons and a haptic knob.

Design Strategy

Our objective was to simplify and standardize interaction, as well as consider the needs of future Audi drivers. The input controls as well as the MMI menu and system feedback were to be intuitive to use. Our design also needed to consider the Audi “genes”, user ergonomics and joy-of-use. Through extensive research, design, prototyping and user testing we arrived at our vision of:

The touch sensitive steering wheel enables unique interaction with your Audi through a minimal set of easy to perform gestures in the natural driving position. The capacitive sensing grid under the leather tracks the driver’s gestures, recognizing left/right and up/down swipes. The sensors enable scrolling through MMI menus, making selections and changing from audio player to controlling the side mirror or windows. The system is easy to activate with a squeeze via embedded piezoelectric film. Simplified Graphical User Interface enables the user to interpret the MMI system state with a glance: Easily recognizable graphical elements, a straightforward menu structure and clear instructions visible at the top of the screen, until the driver deactivates them. The main MMI screen is in the gauge panel of the car, closer to the driver’s direct line of sight. When activated, the MMI momentarily replaces part of the gauges. Aesthetically, our solution retains the distinctive Audi look and feel that drivers are accustomed to.

“ Hands on the Wheel, Eyes on the Road.”

Leather Upholstery

Pressure Sensitive EMFIT - Film

Capacitive Sensing Grid

Swiping thumb AUDIO

Swiping palm





The Capacitive Grid Design


Tuomo Eloranta Kent Frankovich Fredrik Hollsten Christopher Pell

Krista Kauppinen Aaron Rudolph Mikael Syrjälä Yee Shan Woo

Volkswagen of America Inc. Electronics Research Laboratory

Example Projects we have completed Every ME310 project is fresh, creative and teeming with entrepreneurial spirit. Here’s a few examples of the kinds of results we can achieve: Audi: Interact In the year 2020, how could Audi’s Multimedia Interface (MMI) be used? To conquer every driver’s demand for access to information through the MMI, the team found a solution through a capacitive steering wheel, fitted with a touch-sensing grid and quasi-piezoelectric film under the steering wheel’s leather. It works by registering a driver’s squeezes or up/down and left/right gestures. YLE: Immerse In the TV world, when words can’t do enough to explain a production concept, what then? Hand gestures, of course. Using a creativity room called Immersion, TV show developers can step away from the dull hallways of the TV network’s office and enter an entirely different world – and with slight movements of the hand, they can make the world a creation of their own. With the help of a specifically designed multitouch interface, the team uses images, audio and lights to externalize their thoughts and ideas in order to develop new show concepts faster and cheaper. UPM: Tupa Tupa, meaning “great room” in Finnish, is the revolutionary new design for the KELA Maternity Package (Äitiyspakkaus) made from UPM Grada™ Plywood. In Finland, every expectant mother in the country receives a Maternity Package that contains many of the essentials for a baby’s first year of life. Even the box is often used as a first bed. More multi-functional, stronger and more stylish than the original, Tupa adds the functionality of a rocking crib, table and chairs and even a toy or memory box. It is truly life’s most precious package.

Academic Partners Students and faculty in ME310 collaborate with students and faculty from leading universities around the world. Every school brings a unique strength to ME310 that is matched with the different corporate projects. The diversity of people, skills, and perspectives in this global network maximizes the chances of breakthrough innovation. The global ME310 network of universities consists of approximately 20 universities from nearly every continent. In every ME310 project there are students from at least two of these institutions. For example, in the past few years the universities collaborating in ME310 have included:

photo by George Atanassov

Corporate Partners Projects in ME310 have come from companies small and large in various industries including consumer electronics, automotive, telecommunications, healthcare, aeronautics, software, household products, transportation, government... Project topics are often broad enough so that students must not only solve, but also define the problem while delivering surprise and delight to the corporate partners. At the same time, projects should be well defined so that students are working within a realistic context, the best training ground for innovators of tomorrow. Shown below are some of the companies that brought their innovation challenges to ME310 and supported graduate product design and development education in the ME310 global network. Interested in having ME310 students take on your innovation challenge? Get involved! See the back cover for our contact information.

photo by Markku Koskela

Outcomes with ME310 • Problem re-definition shapes the innovation space • Extensive interim reports are shared quarterly • Video conferences keep collaboration alive, bi-weekly proven best • Customer and client market research shapes the decision tree • Preliminary conceptual prototypes test the problem formulation • Multiple functional prototypes test the solution path • Leadership briefings give face-to-face synchronization quarterly • Stanford Design EXPErience in the 1st week of June wraps-up the project • Resumes and contact information for all ME310 global students • Re-design or innovation workshops can be arranged for your Executive Group • Open doors to our Design Loft to experience the ME310 community • Importantly, you have a concrete gateway to the ME310 global network



Let’s Connect, make it real and make it happen.

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Aalto University Design Factory

Me310 corporate booklet 2013 2014  

ME310 is a Global Design Innovation course taught at Aalto University in collaboration with Stanford University and other leading global uni...

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