Celebrating the Automobile

ME397: Design Restoration

Important Dates

  • Saturday, March 31st (11:59PM PST): Application deadline
  • Wednesday, April 4th: Application decisions announced
  • Friday, April 6th (3PM PST): First class session at VAIL*

*Please note that this is different from what is listed on Axess.

Course Overview

A new installment in the Design Theory & Methodology series for Spring Quarter. We will explore topics in design, engineering and manufacturing in the process of restoring a classic American car (1962 Cadillac DeVille). We will consider questions such as:

  • What defines a “classic” car? What makes a product classic?
  • What makes a “luxury” product? How has the notion of luxury changed over time?
  • What does the design of the car say about American identity? How has this identity changed over time, and how is it expressed now?
  • Who was the user then, and why did it appeal to them? What about it appeals to us now?
  • How does the car appear from the mechanic’s perspective?
  • How does the engineering of the machine influence the design of the car, and vise-versa?

Students will work in interdisciplinary teams to perform a 'design restoration' investigating the object and its history as a design inquiry while contributing to the technical restoration of the engine and other critical systems. Every student can expect to get their hands dirty; prior automotive experience is not required but everyone is expected to be motivated to learn. Our goal is to have the car operational again by the end of Spring Quarter. Course will be taught by Martin Steinert with PhD Candidate Greg Kress taking the lead on the restoration activity. This course requires an application! Please apply soon if you are interested.

About the Car

The class will revolve around restoring this 1962 Cadillac DeVille sedan. Manufactured at the height of the American auto industry, in an era before computers and global outsourcing, the Cadillac sedan represented the pinnacle of American luxury and engineering, and was envied the world over. This car was originally purchased by a Polish immigrant/entrepreneur and followed him and his business from Florida to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and back. After twenty years in a garage in Connecticut, the car is ready for a rebuild to start its next half-century of life in California.

How to Apply

The course is offered primarily for Masters-level students of all majors. Other students may also consider applying. All students will work on interdisciplinary teams, so students with prior team project experience are preferred. Prior automotive experience is desirable but not required. The course will be listed as ME397: Design Theory & Methodology Seminar (please note: actual meeting time may differ from what is listed on Axess). Students should not enroll before being accepted. Interested students should send an email to Greg Kress (see Stanford directory) that BRIEFLY addresses the following questions:

  • What is your name? Major/Dept.? Degree level and year?
  • What is your background? Field of focus? Area of interest?
  • Why does this class appeal to you?
  • What was your most successful team project? What role did you play?
  • Do you have prior experience with cars, engines or restoration?

Applications are due by March 31st, 2012 (11:59PM PST); however, interested students are strongly encouraged to apply ahead of the deadline.

Class Wiki

When the class wiki has been created, you will find the link here.

Course Flyers