June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Design in Engineering Education
26.106.1 - 26.106.21
A Scalable Instructional Method to Introduce First-Year Engineering Students to Design and Manufacturing Processes by Coupling 3D Printing with CAD Assignments Providing first-year engineering majors with an opportunity to experience engineeringthrough a project-based design course has become an important curricular element in manyengineering degree programs. An introduction to engineering design course at the authors’institution, a large state-supported research university, requires students to work inmultidisciplinary teams of 8-10 students to design, build, and test an autonomous vehicle. Forover a decade, computer-aided design (CAD) software has been introduced as a courserequirement with the academic promise that learning this material will become useful when youbecome an engineer. Historically, students only used CAD software as an afterthought to present their final project, and not as a design tool. The exciting link between CAD software and manufacturing practices used by real engineers was missing. To address this contextual mismatch, ten consumer-grade 3D printers have been added asa course enhancement to the introductory engineering course. This is a required first-year coursefor all engineering majors and is taken by more than 1200 students each year. The courseutilizes a two-phase approach that allows students to experience the product developmentprocess. Instruction on technical content is provided during the first half of the semester, and the remainder of the semester is devoted to a hands-on design project where student teamsapply this knowledge. This paper describes a scalable instructional method that has been developed to betterlink CAD assignments to modern manufacturing processes. Inline with what has been done inthe past, each student in the course is required to complete five CAD assignments that providethe knowledge to create part, assembly, and drawing files in Autodesk Inventor. A new coursecomponent requires each student to print one of the parts they generate in the CAD assignments. The average print time for this assignment is less than 40 minutes. The final in-‐class assignment requires each design team to pool their 3D printed parts and assemble and test a small, wheeled vehicle with a drivetrain. This paper details challenges that were overcome to effectively integrate 3D printing intothe course in a way that strikes a balance between reliability, ease of use, and learning potential.An enjoyable experience is needed to motivate the students to continue to use the technology, buta hands-off, vending machine style approach does not afford the same opportunities for learningas a system where direct knowledge of the mechanisms and operation of 3D printing machines isimportant for success. Analysis of user data from the 3D printers will be provided.Additionally, results from a student survey will be discussed. The survey will attempt to assessstudents’ motivation to learn CAD software as a design tool as a result of the 3D printingexperience. Lastly, the authors’ provide reflection on the overall success of this courseenhancement and provide commentary on how this course component could be improved andscaled for use at other institutions.
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