Course syllabus


PPU191 Engineering design and optimization lp1 HT20 (7.5 hp)

The course is offered by the Department of Industrial and Materials Science

Course purpose

The course aims at integrating traditional design methodologies with concepts and techniques of modern optimization theory and practice. With the approach and instilled knowledge, the students are expected to be able to create design solutions that are creative and have better performance compared to traditional conservative methods. Furthermore, the course aims to:

  •  Demonstrate a selection of different tools and methods for optimization of mechanical products and structures
  • Design for improvement of components in products and mechanical systems
  • Demonstrate the iterative nature of the development chain including modeling-analysis-test
  • Use and familiarize students with modern CAE tools
  • Incorporate material selection as a part of the product development process

Course evaluation committee

MPPDE   Jenny Andersson

MPAUT   Dushyanth Balaji Sooda

MPPDE  Dominika Paulina Hamulczuk

MPSES  Raghuvar Vijayakumar

MPPDE   Vasanth Kumar



Course literature

The main literature in the course is the Principle of optimal design, which is available at Chalmers Store

  • Papalambros & Wilde: Principles of Optimal Design, 3nd Edition. 2000 ISBN 0-521-62727-3

Additional sources include:

  • Christensen & Klarbring: An Introduction to Structural Optimization, 2009. Available as e-book through Chalmers library
  • Bendsoe & Sigmund: Topology Optimization: Theory, Methods, and Applications, 2004. Available as e-book through Chalmers library
  • Selected research articles - provided on Canvas 

Contact details

The organization of the course is as follows:

Dr. Gauti Asbjörnsson
Examiner, lecturer

Kanishk Bhadani
Course administration,  supervisor

Prof. Mikael Enelund

Prof. Christer Persson

Dr. Johannes Quist

Prof. Eduard Hryha

Dr. Brina Blinzler

Dr. Harald Hasselblad, VCC
Guest lecturer

M.Sc Björn Bragée, Comsol
Guest lecturer

Course design

The course is divided into 16 lectures over the course of 8 weeks. Project assignments will reinforce
the lecture material through design tasks that reflect the content of the lectures leading up to them.
The lecture topics are as follows:

  1. Course intro & general engineering approach
  2. Applied mechanics 1
  3. Introduction to optimization
  4. Modeling
  5. Optimization algorithms & tools 1
  6. Material selection in Design
  7. Applied mechanics 2
  8. Optimization algorithms & tools 2
  9. Concept & Embodiment Design
  10. Composites
  11. Multi-obj. Optimization & trade-off analysis
  12. Quality & uncertainty management
  13. Applied mechanics 3
  14. Additive manufacturing
  15. Multi Syst. Optimization
  16. Course recap

Workshops - Flipped classroom

  1. Applied Optimization - Ansys
  2. Optimization using MATLAB
  3. Metamodeling –DoE – The Helicopter I+II
  4. Material Selection with CES
  5. MOO using MATLAB
  6. Optimization Examples 

There will be scheduled workshops to reinforce concepts and introduce software from the lectures under supervision. Some of the workshops will be used for supervision and are therefore intentionally left blank in the schedule.

There will be three project assignments throughout the course focusing on the later stages of design. In the assignments, students will work in groups of two (pairs). In order to achieve positive cross-over effects, students in a group should be enrolled in different MSc-programs.

PA 1 - The Cantilever Challenge
Design, build, and test a cantilever beam over two iterations ending with a live competition. Who will achieve the highest performance and win the challenge?

PA 2 – Materials selection and design optimization
Optimization of a bicycle frame considering material selection and embodiment of a design

PA 3 – MOO
Design, simulation, and optimization of a multidisciplinary system using Multi-Objective Optimization

Changes made since the last occasion

The lecture format of the core lectures has been changed to include more interactive discussions. Two lectures have been changed out. Those are TRIZ and Fatigue and age-based failure lectures. instead, there are new lectures on composites and additive manufacturing.

Learning objectives and syllabus

Learning objectives:

  • Master the complete development chain including modeling-analyses-test-evaluation
  • Identify areas for improvement in a new or an existing product design
  • Identify and choose appropriate material alternatives for a product
  • Apply previously-learned design methods and tools to practical problems
  • Create appropriate simulation models of the design problem
  • Use Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) tools to design and simulate product performance
  • Apply previous knowledge in mathematics and mechanics to formulate and solve optimization problems.
  • Formulate design optimization problems based on project or product requirements
  • Apply numerical optimization techniques and computer tools to solve optimization problems
  • Interpret optimization results for design decision making (e.g., material selection, geometry, manufacturing, production)
  • Create CAE drawings for use with three-dimensional printing tools
  • Iterate on design solutions to continually improve a product's design and performance
  • Communicate design solutions, including rationales for a given choice, advantages, and disadvantages over alternatives

Link to the syllabus on Studieportalen.

Study plan

Examination form

The examination is based on four parts 

  • Written final exam (Grade 5, 4, 3, Fail)
  • Midterm exam (bonus points for the exam)
  • Three approved assignments (Pass/Fail)
  • Attended compulsory guest lectures and write a short reflection (bonus points for the exam).

Each assignment is graded on a scale of (not passed/passed). The projects will be worth 3 credits (1,1,1) of the student’s individual course grade, and the exams will be worth 4.5 credits. Bonus credits from the midterm exam and Guest Lecture (if such is given) are valid for the first regular examination. If students are not able to attend and review two out of three compulsory guest lectures, a complimentary review will be assigned. 


Course summary:

Date Details Due