Columbus , Ohio
June 28, 2017
June 28, 2017
June 28, 2017
Main Forum (Podium Presentation)
SCUPI Derby – A New Approach to “Introduction to Mechanical Design”
The Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute (SCUPI) is one of the recently established joint education programs between China and US. It is in its second year of operation. The sophomore class of “Introduction to Mechanical Design” in SCUPI is rather unique in the sense that it pairs the traditional mechanical design class with an English writing class that is centered on technical writing. To the best knowledge of the authors, this combination has never been tried in other institutes. To provide the best learning experience for our students, the instructors for the class themselves have to work closely as a team. To take advantage of the Maker Space that is already set up in SCUPI (particularly with the availability of 3D printers), we came up with the idea of a SCUPI Derby which was modeled after the well-known US Boy Scouts’ Pinewood Derby as the final project for our students. What is different from the Pinewood Derby is that the model car of our project would be made from 3D printing instead of producing it from a pinewood block. To prepare our students for this challenging task, we used SolidWorks as the main design tool. Not only the concept of concurrent engineering was introduced in the early stage of the class, but also the technology about rapid prototyping was emphasized throughout the semester. Basic concepts of fluid mechanics and vehicle dynamics were also supplemented in the regular classroom discussion of mechanical design. In addition, research skills aimed at helping students search for information that could lead to better composition of their project report as well as improved design of their model car were discussed in the English writing part.
The design criteria and competition rules of the SCUPI Derby were provided to students near the mid-term so that they would have sufficient time to work on the project. The students were divided into 24 groups with 4 students in each group. The students’ performance in this final project was evaluated in three parts: design appeal, project presentation, and actual race. On top of the design limitations of the model car (such as size, material, and minimum number of parts), an additional challenge came from the condition of the race track. The race track used for the competition was made domestically and was available on the market for other similar events. It had several holes in the center of the track which consequently became road hazards that students needed to take into account when they designed their car. Since 3D printing could take considerable time to print model parts, the time management of the project became another important lesson for our students.
While the design appeal was peer-evaluated, the race was evaluated by the distance the car travelled from the inclined track as well as the time it took to reach the final destination. On the day of the SCUPI Derby, students were excited and energized. They witnessed how a well-thought design could be realized and turned into a wonderful product in life. We believe the experience that our students gained from this class will be invaluable for their future career. It gives them the first taste of design realization as well as the true meaning of engineering.
Lai, F., & Liang, D., & Evans, A. R. (2017, June), SCUPI Derby – A New Approach to “Introduction to Mechanical Design” Paper presented at 2017 ASEE International Forum, Columbus , Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/29299
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