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Examining The Benefits Of A Self Taught Solid Modeling Course

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.480.1 - 6.480.10

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Douglas H. Baxter

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Examining the Benefits of a Self-Taught Solid Modeling Course

Douglas H. Baxter

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


All engineering students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are required to take a one- credit course in solid modeling. This course, Engineering Graphics and Computer Aided Design (EG&CAD) teaches the skills of using a solid modeling system to create parts, small assemblies, and documentation. More importantly, EG&CAD also emphasizes the use of vectors in creating solid models and thereby provides students reinforcement of their linear algebra knowledge. The students normally take EG&CAD during their freshman year and then have the opportunity to use solid modeling in their sophomore and senior design projects as well as some special topic electives. In addition, several other courses are now using solid models as a way to demonstrate fundamental principles2 . With an increasing dependence on solid modeling skills required, it is imperative that the course content in EG&CAD be effectively delivered and absorbed.

Finding the teaching staff to run EG&CAD for 750-800 students/year has always been a challenge. EG&CAD runs fifteen to twenty sections each semester; concerns about equality of instruction and evaluation between the sections always existed. Over the last nine years, several methods of instruction and teaching material have been developed to help ensure the uniformity of the learning experience for the students[3][4][5][7]. EG&CAD is run with one faculty member as course coordinator. A graduate student conducts laboratories with two additional student helpers. The graduate students are assigned to the course coordinator from the departments in the School of Engineering. The two student helpers are generally undergraduate students. The course coordinator hires the undergraduate students; these undergraduate students are identified as having done extremely well in EG&CAD. This method of supplying teaching staff for EG&CAD has been very successful over the last nine years. The greatest difficulty is the turnover of the graduate students. Graduate students are assigned on a semester basis; each semester requires extensive training to prepare the graduate students to teach the course.

Course Pedagogy

EG&CAD is taught with a series of twelve one hour lectures over a fourteen week semester[1][3][4]. The first six weeks are spent learning how to create solid models of parts, one week is spent on assemblies of parts and the remaining five weeks are spent on creating engineering drawings. Students also create hand sketches of parts creating both isometric and orthographic projections. An additional textbook[6] is used to supplement

“Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2001, American Society for Engineering Education”

Baxter, D. H. (2001, June), Examining The Benefits Of A Self Taught Solid Modeling Course Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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