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Using Legos To Reinforce Basic Parametric Modeling Practices

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1416.1 - 10.1416.10



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Paper Authors

author page

Nancy Study

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

Using LEGOs to Reinforce Basic Parametric Modeling Practices

N. E. Study

Department of Engineering, ENTC, INTC Virginia State University


Incorporating design intent and the use of appropriate naming strategies are fundamental concepts of efficient parametric modeling. A class of primarily junior level engineering and technology students, most of whom were having their first experience with parametric modeling, was struggling with these basic concepts. Although the students had received instruction on the importance of naming their files, features, and sketches and incorporating design intent into their models, they were not implementing these practices into their projects. To help reinforce basic concepts and get students to realize that in the real world, more than one person may work on a design file, it was decided to introduce a LEGO modeling project into the course. This project required the students to model three or four parts of a LEGO® backhoe. The individual files were collected by the instructor and redistributed to the students so they could each assemble the complete model. If a part did not fit properly into the assembly and needed editing, each student made a decision to either fix the part or recreate it if editing was not feasible. The students were required to keep track of which parts worked, and which needed editing in order to complete the assembly. This paper focuses on the outcome of the project and includes feedback from the students on what they learned from the experience and their comments on working on a team project. Also included are graphic examples of the assembled LEGO backhoe both before and after editing the individual parts.


Some of the most fundamental concepts of efficient parametric modeling are incorporating design intent through the use of dimensions/parameters and having an appropriate naming strategy for planes, features, and parts in order that future editing of the model can be accomplished by someone other than the originator. In Pro/DESKTOP, the software used in the course discussed in this paper, if the default names are not changed, each new feature, plane, or design file is named with a generic name such as; workplane1, revolution1, extrusion1, or design1. These default names do not give another user enough information to easily edit the part, as would names such as; hole pattern plane, cap profile, thru hole, or tractor tire. Also, the dimensions/parameters on the sketches are important because these parameters define the geometry and allow features to be edited.

In a junior level CAD course, most students were not implementing the basic concepts of naming and fully dimensioning their sketches in their projects although they had been instructed

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society of Engineering Education”

Study, N. (2005, June), Using Legos To Reinforce Basic Parametric Modeling Practices Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15377

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