Course Syllabus

E3401 Mechanics of Machines

M 8:40am - 11:25am,  214 Pupin Laboratories

Introduction to mechanisms and machines, analytical and graphical synthesis of mechanism, displacement analysis, velocity analysis, acceleration analysis of linkages, dynamics of mechanism, cam design, gear and gear trains, and computer-aided mechanism design.

Course Objectives:           

  • To introduce the kinematic design process
  • To apply theory to the design of a functional kinematic system
  • To manufacture mechanical devices
  • To provide group interaction experiences

There will be a main project in this course, where teams of four or five students will design, analyze and build an air motor.

Staffing and office hours:

Instructor: Prof. Hod Lipson, Mudd 535E, Office hours: Tue/Thu 11am-12pm, or by email appointment.

TA: Siyuan "Siy" Chen ( Office hours TBD

Course website: All official course materials and assignments will be distributes through this website

Piazza: Students must use Piazza for all technical questions and logistical clarification. Direct emails to the instructors should be used for personal matters


Your final grade will be determined from the class activities as follows:

  • Kinematics Model 10%
  • Air Motor Project 50%
  • Final Presentation 10%
  • Final Exam 30%

Grading in this course is “process grading”, which is quite different from what you are used to. Your grade is based primarily on the process you went through as evident from your participation, design notebook and attendance. A team will receive one grade per project, but this grade can be rebalanced by peer evaluation within the group and by notebook evaluation. The emphasis is on engineering practice activities. Assignments must be turned in to your section TA by beginning of section on the due date. Late assignments will be penalized 5% per 24H late. No credit will be received for assignments turned in more than a week late.

Final exam material will cover textbook, as well as material covered in class (see posted lecture).


Improper, irresponsible or unsafe behavior will result in loss of laboratory privileges in both Teaching Lab and the MectTech Lab. Due to the high fabrication content of this course, this policy will be strictly enforced. Grades may also be used to penalize safety. Safety is so important that a serious infraction is an automatic ‘F’ in the course.

Project Notebooks:

Project notebooks are an essential part of design realization and are required. Project notebooks (one per team) will be uploaded on canvas the end of every week for grading and feedback. At the end of the project, the final notenook will be a significant portion of your grade.


Official Course textbook

Robert Norton, Design of Machinery, Edition 5. McGraw-Hill ISBN-13: 978-0077421717

Other useful references:

  • Shigley's Mechanical Engineering Design
  • Roark's formulas for stress and strain / Warren C. Young, 6th ed, New York : McGraw-Hill, c1989
  • Mechanism and Mechanical Devices Handbook, Chironis & Sclater, McGraw Hill
  • Kinematics, Dynamics, and Design of Machinery 3rd Edition by Kenneth J. Waldron, Gary L. Kinzel (Author), Sunil K. Agrawal

Academic Integrity

In design, sharing, copying and adapting is ok and even encouraged. However, you must credit the source.

Students may copy any part of someone else's work (including from other students, external sources, previous years, the Internet, etc.) but they must explicitly cite the source and provide a complete and full citation. In this case they will be judged by their added value compared to the source. If copying text verbatim, put copied text in quotes and cite source. If paraphrasing someone else's idea, cite original source.

Copying without attribution is considered plagiarism and a violation of academic integrity.

Students with Disabilities

If you are a student with a documented disability on record at Columbia University and wish to have a reasonable accommodation made for you in this class, please contact the instructor immediately.

Course Summary:

Date Details