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Department of Mechanical Engineering's Toy Lab 'PLAYsents' student-built prototypes

In 2.00b, students focus on their inner child.
Course 2.00b (Toy Product Design) students participate in the PLAYsentations on May 15.
Course 2.00b (Toy Product Design) students participate in the PLAYsentations on May 15.
Photo: Tony Pulsone

Named one of the "30 Awesome College Labs" by Popular Science magazine, the Department of Mechanical Engineering's Course 2.00b — more popularly known as "Toy Product Design" — challenges undergraduate students to design, build and present a toy prototype in just one semester.

Started in 2004 by graduate students Barry Kudrowitz, Bill Fienup and Professor David Wallace — and with research funding by Hasbro — the Toy Lab today includes nearly 50 mentors and instructors to help guide teams toward a promising new toy. This past spring, graduate students Geoff Tsai and Steven Keating led the class, which included 16 five-person teams.

Through the semester, the students were introduced to the product design and development process, from investigating customer needs; brainstorming concepts; sketching, designing and modeling; and finally prototyping and presenting the final product. This year, the class partnered closely with the Boston Children’s Museum and the MIT Museum for inspiration and testing, as well as with engineering mentors for guidance on design and prototyping.

On Tuesday, May 15, the teams presented their creations to hundreds gathered for the annual "PLAYsentations." Audience members received a clipboard as they entered Room 10-250 and were asked to judge each team based on its prototype and presentation. During the event, moderated by Wallace, the audience was given the opportunity to ask questions about the inner workings and inspiration of the students’ creative new toys. Projects ranged from Firefly, a light-up football activated by rotations; to Soundy, a portable motion-sensor speaker; to spy-training equipment called the Laser Maze; and more.

To learn more about Course 2.00b, Toy Product Design, visit

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