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Augmenting a First-year Design Course with an Undergraduate Student Administered SolidWorks Module

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

CAD Assessments, Trends and Applications

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.233.1 - 23.233.26



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Paper Authors


Richard Whalen Northeastern University

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Richard Whalen received his Ph.D. from Northeastern University in Mechanical Engineering. Over the past decade he has been a member of the Northeastern University’s Gateway Team. This is a team of teaching faculty devoted to the development and enhancement of the first-year General Engineering program at Northeastern. The focus of this team is to provide a consistent, comprehensive, and constructive educational experience in engineering that endorses the student-centered and professionally-oriented mission of Northeastern University. In addition to the first-year focus he teaches courses in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Northeastern and has won multiple Outstanding Teaching Awards over the years.

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Chirag Patel

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David Joseph Tortoriello


Justin Baldacci ASME Northeastern chapter

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Justin Baldacci began working on his B.S. in mechanical engineering at Drexel University in 2008 before transfering to Northeastern University in 2010. He has completed two coops during his time at Northeastern University. The first coop position was a facility mechanic at a data center in Boston called Markley Group. The second coop was a manufacturing engineering job at GE Energy in Billerica mass where he utilized Solidworks on a daily basis in tandem with an in house 3D printer. He has been on the ASME club board of officers for three years and is currently working in his third coop as a systems engineer at a heart pump manufacturer called Abiomed.

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Jeffrey Speroni

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Speroni is a 4th year Mechanical Engineering student minoring in Mathematics at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass. Speroni has served as the ASME student chapter president, and was a leader in organizing and managing the student run SolidWorks class.
Speroni has completed two co-op opportunities while at Northeastern, and is currently in the process of completing his third. His first co-op was at Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, where Speroni worked as a radar systems analyst. This work experience was heavy on MATLAB and data analysis. His second co-op was at Instron, where he worked on several different projects. Speroni worked on testing a new hardness engineering software, as well as designing custom test fixtures. These designs were made using SolidWorks. His current co-op is at Resolute Marine Energy, where he is again using SolidWorks to design hydraulic systems.

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Augmenting a First-year Design Course with an Undergraduate Student Administered SolidWorks ModuleThe overall course goals of most first-year engineering design courses are to introduce students to a designprocess through hands-on learning activities, to gain experience in graphical communication using softwaresuch as AutoCAD, SolidWorks or Pro Engineer, and to inspire and instill an appreciation for theengineering profession, its ethics, and practices. At a large urban university where experiential education isat the forefront of learning there is a common first year curriculum for all majors in engineering. Thismakes it difficult to provide the student with all the tools needed for their first cooperative educationalexperience (co-op). Students enter the workforce for the first time after they have completed either three orfour semesters of classes. Since it is unrealistic to teach to every major the industry specific skill setsrequired for the introductory jobs, sophomores often lack in some of the skills and practical knowledgecommonly used at the co-op partner firms. For example, in the first-year design course at U. Universitythe engineering students are provided with four hours of classroom training in both AutoCAD andSolidWorks over the course of a 14 week semester. This eight hour classroom component is an adequateamount of time for the electrical or chemical engineering major whose first co-op will typically not requirethe use of these software packages. However, this is not the case for the mechanical engineering majorwhose first co-op will generally involve the use SolidWorks or a similar package. With only a basicworking knowledge after four class hours, sophomores will often have to self-teach to acquire moreadvanced skills since they are typically put into a design position requiring the fluent use of the software.Additionally, these students often lack understanding of the design-manufacturing relationship, a criticalcomponent when transitioning from a digital platform to a physical part.The upper-class members of the student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers at U.University saw an opportunity to provide a service to the sophomore chapter members who had only fourhours of SolidWorks instruction. Driven by their past experiences, they developed an extra-curricularcourse designed to supplement the first-year course and help with the transition of our mechanicalengineering students into their first cooperative learning experience. A benefit of this course for the upper-class students is first-hand experience in engineering education. In addition, teaching the material leads to amore thorough understanding of the subject material1.The course allows the upper-class students to use the software as a tool to teach mechanical designprinciples while in parallel expanding the sophomore engineering students computer aided design skills.Some of the features of the course are: to expand awareness in modeling creation so that they can be easilyadjusted and revised, augment discussion of the limitations of different manufacturing techniques and toenhance different styles of communication skills such as technical drawings, hand sketching, andrenderings. Prior to the beginning of the course, students will be assessed on their knowledge ofSolidWorks through both a survey and a brief examination. This assessment will serve as a starting pointfor post class analysis.The purpose of this paper and presentation is to outline the learning activities designed for the studentdriven course and to provide assessment information on the course’s effectiveness. Details and insights foradministering these learning experiences will be described in the paper.References: 1) Weider, Janet M. , Wendorf, Angela R., Gurung, Regan A., and Filz, Tonya. “A Survey of Graduate and Undergradute Teaching Assistants”. vol. 60, pp 95-103, July 2012.

Whalen, R., & Patel, C., & Tortoriello, D. J., & Baldacci, J., & Speroni, J. (2013, June), Augmenting a First-year Design Course with an Undergraduate Student Administered SolidWorks Module Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19247

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