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Using Cad Analysis Tools To Teach Mechanical Engineering Technology

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.608.1 - 3.608.10

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Paper Authors

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William E. Cole

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

Session 3647

Using CAD Analysis Tools to Teach Mechanical Engineering Technology

William E. Cole School of Engineering Technology Northeastern University

New advanced Computer Aided Design (CAD) tools are now available that allow students to not only draw objects on the computer but also to determine forces, stresses, and motion. Students can even fabricate objects directly from the computer model with rapid prototyping tools. These tools can also be used to teach basic engineering technology material. Thus a curriculum can be envisioned where freshman learn how to create solid models within the CAD environment. Throughout the rest of the curriculum, advanced analysis tools can then be used to teach and reinforce specific course material including design, strength of materials, and mechanics. These three threads represent over 25% of the curriculum in Mechanical Engineering Technology and 10% of the curriculum in Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology at Northeastern University. This paper discusses how these tools could be integrated into the curriculum.


Engineering material is taught today the same way it has been for decades using primarily lectures and homework assignments based upon mathematical models to represent the physical phenomena. However this is not the best way to teach. Many education studies have shown that students retain only a small fraction of what they hear or read. The retention rate increases dramatically when a student says or does--when there is hands on learning.1 This is especially true in Engineering Technology where students learn best through observing and doing. Hence the extensive use of laboratory experiments in the Engineering Technology Program.

New tools are needed to improve the teaching of technical material. Technology students are hands-on graphic learners--their learning improves when they can see things and work with them. Hence graphics can provide an additional tool to help teach technology students. Graphics is the primary method of communications within the engineering world, especially for Engineering Technologists. Engineering Technologists draw new ideas as sketches to focus concepts in their mind and show them to others. After preliminary work, details are added to these sketches and they are formalized into drawings. These drawings are continually revised as additional calculations are performed and tests conducted to improve the design and create the final product. Historically, the drawing of a product was performed independently from the analysis. The advent of the computer has changed this design process. It is now possible to construct the initial sketch as a three dimensional solid model in the computer. Through close integration of various analysis packages, design analyses can be performed directly on this solid model to determine its properties and reaction to applied loads. Thus the steps of drawing have been closely linked to the analysis. Analysis by sophisticated tools on a computer model has replaced analysis by hand with simplified geometry for many applications.2,3

Cole, W. E. (1998, June), Using Cad Analysis Tools To Teach Mechanical Engineering Technology Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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