Christopher Hoyle, a 4th year mechanical engineering student, plays many different musical instruments. He has recorded his music for several years, and began sharing his recordings on YouTube since June 2009. Within two years he had posted 37 musical videos, received over 220,000 views, and gained over 1880 subscribers. Christopher currently receives approximately 600 views per day on his YouTube channel. As a strategy to increase the uniqueness of his YouTube channel, Christopher would like to design and build a new and unique sounding musical instrument that he can share with his YouTube audience. Having broad experience with a range of musical instruments, Christopher understands which principles contribute to the design of a good musical instrument. For this application, the new instrument must be acoustic, create sound using natural energy, and be able to play standard notes, scales and songs.
Christopher set out to design and build a unique sounding musical instrument that will complement his own singing voice. He undertook this effort as a two-term design project, supervised by Oscar Nespoli at the University of Waterloo.
The teaching objective of this case is to illustrate engineering design process. The main expected learning outcome is for students to practice design synthesis. It is intended that the case study be open-ended, where students will need to move through the engineering design process, and conceptualize adequate solutions based on the design requirements. Courses the case could be used in include mechanical and system design concept courses (ME 100 and SYDE 161). Other courses the case could be applicable include SYDE 361 (Introduction to Design), and ME 380 (Mechanical Engineering Design Workshop).