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Expanding The Use Of Solid Modeling Throughout The Engineering Curriculum

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.290.1 - 5.290.13

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Douglas H. Baxter

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2238

Expanding the Use of Solid Modeling Throughout The Engineering Curriculum

Douglas H. Baxter

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


The use of the studio classroom at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has greatly enhanced the tradi- tional classroom experience. With computers, students are now able to work with their instructors through example problems. One of the added benefits of the studio classroom is that students can enhance their skills using the various software packages available to them for their work. As a prime example, with the visual capabilities of today's solid modeling packages, solid modeling examples can be used to enhance the students' abilities to grasp fundamental engineering concepts in their studies. The effective use of solid modeling for design and documentation of parts and assemblies is well established. In this paper, uses for solid modeling outside of traditional graph- ics courses are examined. It is shown how solid modeling can be used to visualize concepts taught in undergraduate studies; including vector properties, differentiation as applied to shape optimiza- tion problems, and simple structural optimization. While the focus of this paper will be on devel- oping visualization skills at the freshman and sophomore levels, it will can seen how solid modeling can be employed throughout a four-year program. By taking advantage of the comput- ing power available to students in the studio classroom, key concepts can be visualized with the aid of solid models.


The use of computers in engineering education has continued to increase. Computers were once the subject of courses, and were also used as one of the many tools engineering students needed in their course work. Today, computers have become major teaching tools, the dominant tool for the engineering student. At Rensselaer, incoming students are now required to purchase laptop com- puters to a minimum performance specification. Many of the freshman courses now use the laptop computers in the classroom; the most common type being the studio classroom. Such studio classes will propagate throughout the curriculum as the present freshman class progresses. Tradi- tional lecture courses will continue to be replaced with studio courses. Those involved in teaching the present freshman studio courses are examining how students utilize their laptop computers within and outside of the classroom in order to better develop subsequent studio courses.

One conclusion from teaching studio courses is that students must quickly master the use of their laptop computers and how they work with the computing system at Rensselaer. The students com- puters are connected to the Rensselaer system in their classroom via an ethernet connection. Ethernet connections have been installed throughout the campus in major study areas (such as the library and student lounges) and residence halls as well as in many of the classrooms on campus. Students are encouraged to use the ethernet connections for data storage and retrieval, printing

Baxter, D. H. (2000, June), Expanding The Use Of Solid Modeling Throughout The Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri.

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