2.009 to be replaced with abridged 2.s009 in Fall 2020

Many 2.009 experiences ‘cannot be done in a safe manner’

2.009 (The Product Engineering Process) has been canceled for the Fall 2020 term, according to the class website. A replacement subject (2.s009) will be offered instead and is expected to satisfy the Mechanical Engineering (MechE) major’s CI-M requirement. 

The MechE department announced the cancellation of 2.009 in an email to MechE seniors July 27. 2.s009 will “follow an abbreviated version of the product development process used in 2.009,” and “teams will develop products inspired by a very open-ended theme,” the department wrote. 

The class “may be able to accommodate a limited number of remote students by permission of the instructor,” the department wrote, adding that they are still working to resolve issues with “viable lecture spaces” and “safety in the lab with considerations to social distancing.”

Evelyn Wang ’00, MechE department head, wrote in an email to The Tech that due to the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 as well as Massachusetts and Institute policies, “many of the experiences associated with 2.009 cannot be done in a safe manner.” 

2.009 students typically give a final project presentation attended by over 1,000 guests in early December, but the fall term will be held virtually after Thanksgiving. Furthermore, Massachusetts limits indoor gatherings to under 25 people.

2.s009 “will have the same teaching team as 2.009,” Wang wrote, although many “in-class, team-based experiential activities may not be possible.”

2.009 Professor David Wallace PhD ’94 wrote in an email to The Tech that “significant uncertainties about operating conditions for lectures, labs, and team-based learning experiences” made it impossible to offer “a normal 2.009.” 

The MechE department and 2.009 teaching staff decided to offer an alternative that “retains as much of the curriculum and format of 2.009” as safely as possible. Wallace added that “other proposed exceptions that might have allowed a more complete learning experience were not received positively.” 

Wallace wrote that the 2.s009 teaching staff hopes to “provide a best-possible facsimile of the 2.009 curriculum” in an “abridged” form. However, due to the shortened term, the product design ideation and development process will be “at least one development iteration shorter than 2.009.” 

Wallace also wrote that students may face challenges when confronted with “new modes” of working in labs and on teams with “reduced access to facilities due to capacity limitations.” However, he added that he remains excited to “create the best, safe learning experience” possible and “bring lots of energy to creating new materials and adapting to the environment on campus as we learn how we can work.”

Caitlin Keegan ’20, a member of Fall 2019’s 2.009 Ignite Pink Team, wrote in an email to The Tech that although 2.s009 students may not be able to have the same experience of “learning how to successfully work with your team,” they “will hopefully still learn a lot about the product design process.” 

Rising MechE senior Jenny Chan ’21 wrote in an email to The Tech that she wished the 2.009 staff had announced the cancellation and “other details about the class earlier.” Chan added that changing the name of 2.009 to 2.s009 “hits home harder that we won’t be getting the experience that we’ve been looking forward to all these years.”

However, Chan wrote that she is “excited to see how the staff hopes to replicate the 2.009 experience” and has “faith that they will try their hardest to give us a great experience, even if it’s unique in ways that we wouldn’t have expected.”

Some seniors may have initially opted to return to campus this fall to take 2.009. However, the MechE department wrote in their email that students may cancel their on-campus housing assignment until Aug. 28.