2.03x Dynamics aims to improve learning on and off campus

New MITx course brings a classic MIT undergraduate experience into the age of digital learning.
Mark Brown
Office of Digital Learning
Beginning this fall, students everywhere will have an opportunity to better understand one of the classic experiences of an MIT undergraduate, when edX releases 2.03x Dynamics on Oct. 28.

Mechanical Engineering is the second largest engineering department at MIT, and this version of the popular Dynamics course covers many key concepts in the first year curriculum for mechanical engineering (or Course 2) majors. “This course is a great way to discover what mechanical engineering is all about, and develop useful skills that serve any technical field of study,” says Professor David Gossard, the course’s lead instructor and lecturer.

Dynamics is fundamental to the mechanical engineering discipline, according to Gossard, because our world is filled with objects in motion, whether man-made or natural. Learning to analyze and predict dynamic movement in engineering systems is what enables one to understand the inner workings of machines that exist — and to invent new ones that don’t.

In addition to providing clear and practical examples, the course offers a thorough grounding in problem solving skills by teaching students how to approach complex problems in dynamics, and break them down into their components.

Professor Kim Vandiver, who teaches the course’s recitation sessions along with Professor Tom Peacock, offers an illustrative example. “When you’re describing complex motions, you have to be able to assign coordinates and velocities and positions and accelerations to properly describe the motions,” Vandiver says. “You need to figure out which of Newton’s laws apply, and then use the appropriate mathematics to arrive at the solution. By the end of this course, you can actually begin to solve some reasonably sophisticated problems.” Read more.