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Freshman CAD Modeling Competition to Increase Student Interest and Retention

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

FPD III: Innovation in Design in the First Year

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.652.1 - 25.652.11



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Paper Authors


David Miller Pittsburg State University

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David Miller completed a B.S. in biological systems engineering at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in 2000, a master's of science in bioengineering at Arizona State University in 2002, and a doctorate in biomedical engineering at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in 2008. After completing his Ph.D., he worked in the medical industry as a product development engineer for three years before coming to Pittsburg State University, where he has been a tenure-track member of the mechanical engineering technology faculty for the past year. He teaches courses in engineering mechanics, heat transfer, engineering graphics, and product design. He has designed products using AutoCAD, CATIA, Pro/E, and SolidWorks and is a certified SolidWorks Professional.

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Greg Murray Pittsburg State University


Robert E. Gerlick Pittsburg State University

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Robert Gerlick is Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering technology at Pittsburg State University, where he teaches courses in mechanics, graphics, and capstone design.

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Freshman CAD Modeling Competition to Increase Student Interest and RetentionOne of the first courses that all Engineering Technology students must take is EngineeringGraphics I. In this course, students are exposed to SolidWorks (Dassault Systèmes SolidWorksCorp., Vélizy, France), an industry-standard CAD software package. For most of the students,this is their first semester in college, so they are overwhelmed by the new experience of collegeand the rigors of college coursework. As such, when asked to choose a project to demonstratetheir accumulated skills during the CAD course, the decision is typically put off until the lastminute and rushed to get submitted by the deadline.This semester, however, the authors, each of whom is teaching a section of Graphics, agreed toadd a competitive element to the course. Rather than allowing students to choose their ownproject, the students were broken into teams randomly within their section. Each team was giventhe task of designing a racecar in the spirit of the Pinewood Derby, made famous by the BoyScouts of America (, which would then be rapid prototyped using a commerciallyavailable 3D printer. At the end of the semester, the teams within a class will compete; with thewinner of each class competing against the winners from the other two sections. The overallwinner will receive a small number of bonus points for the semester and a “medal”; the winningcar will be displayed like a trophy in a departmental display case.This is a project that inspires teamwork (each student was required to design one component ofthe car), requires designing a product within constraints (the maximum weight, width, length,wheel base, etc. were all specified so that the cars roll down the track), as well as familiarity withthe CAD software.Early responses from the students indicate that the project is well-received: many students havebegun designing elaborate chassis, mag wheels and flashy team logos to fabricate into their cars.During an initial group presentation, teams were heard to say “Our goal is to win,” “[Ourstrategy is:] The Faster the Better,” “[Our group expectation is to] work effectively as a team”and “[Our group expectation is to] expose each teammates (sic) talents.”At the conclusion of the semester, student grades will be anonymously compiled and comparedto grades from previous semester’s projects. It is expected that the grades from the currentsemester will be higher than previous. Additionally, both current and previous students will beanonymously surveyed to determine whether or not they feel that their project helped keep themin the program or, in the case of undecided students, helped entice them to enter the program.

Miller, D., & Murray, G., & Gerlick, R. E. (2012, June), Freshman CAD Modeling Competition to Increase Student Interest and Retention Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21409

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