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Designing Electric Guitars to Teach Mechatronics and Advanced Manufacturing Techniques

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Design & Development Projects and Practices

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Paper Authors


Gavin Garner University of Virginia

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Gavin Garner holds a bachelor’s degree in Physics from Colby College and Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from the University of Virginia. His primary area of expertise lies in the burgeoning field of Mechatronics (aka robotics). Over the past decade, he has built UVA’s Mechatronics program from scratch, developing over 50 hours of unique laboratory experiments as well as dozens of open-ended design projects. Through this experience, he has gained valuable insight into how to engage engineering students and teach them difficult, interdisciplinary material both efficiently and effectively. He was named a “Graduate Teaching Fellow” by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers from 2007-2009. Since then, he has won numerous other teaching awards for his creativity and dedication to student learning. He is especially interested in updating traditional mechanical engineering courses to better integrate the modern tools and techniques used to solve today’s design problems in industry.

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The electric guitar has been a staple of modern music for the past fifty years. Most students (and faculty) tend to agree that electric guitars are quintessentially “cool”, and, for this reason, they provide a perfect medium through which to engage students and teach fundamental concepts of engineering design. Since 2008, students taking an Advanced Mechatronics course at University of Virginia have been designing and fabricating electric guitars from scratch as a project that helps them to explore 3D modeling using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software, Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software, and CNC machining techniques. This project also provides students with the agency to be creative, which is evidenced by the vast array of different shapes and themes that they have incorporated into their designs over the years. This project also provides a fun medium through which Mechanical Engineering students can explore analog circuitry by designing their own custom effects pedal circuits.

Garner, G. (2017, June), Designing Electric Guitars to Teach Mechatronics and Advanced Manufacturing Techniques Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28126

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