Pittsburg State Engineering Technology Students Learn Faster, Easier with 1,000 New Licenses of SolidWorks Software

Off-Campus, Around-the-Clock Access and Integrated Simulation are Big Advantages for Students

CONCORD, Mass. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — January 19, 2011Pittsburg State University in Kansas has purchased 1,000 licenses of SolidWorks® software to help students more aggressively tackle engineering challenges and prepare for their careers.

The new licenses for the first time give every engineering technology student anytime, anywhere access to powerful design, analysis, data management, and sustainability software. The SolidWorks Education Edition software includes professional-class tools for stress, strain, fluid flow, and thermal simulation. Since students now have SolidWorks on their own laptops and PCs, they can eliminate late-night treks to the campus computer lab. The investment thus expands access to the software that Pitt State students find easiest to learn and their future employers favor.

“SolidWorks is now our standard for introducing first-year students to computer-aided design,” said Greg Murray, assistant professor of mechanical engineering technology. “I’ve taught other CAD products for years and have found SolidWorks much easier to use, much more intuitive, and much more effective in making students productive sooner. They’re eating this stuff up rather than asking for help. SolidWorks has helped our students keep up with leaders in industry, and prepare for a rewarding future.”

Employers want SolidWorks training

The Pittsburg, Kan., university expanded access to SolidWorks after the department of engineering technology surveyed area manufacturers and industry representatives on its advisory board. SolidWorks was found to be the most widely used 3D design software among prospective employers. It was also the most frequently sought background in online job sites like CareerBuilder.com®. This research, conducted by Murray and Engineering Technology Chairman Tim Thomas, was presented to the 2010 Midwest Section Conference of the American Society of Engineering Education.

“[SolidWorks software] appears to be widely used in several areas of industry, and has been quickly gaining market share,” says the report. “It is user-friendly software with great tutorials and also has an excellent analysis tool. SolidWorks also offers a series of certification exams that can be integrated into our curriculum and used as an assessment tool for our ABET accreditation.”

Simulation capabilities are key

Although students and professors can generally use any software they choose, and they’re encouraged to try them all, they are steadily gravitating toward SolidWorks. One important factor driving adoption, Murray explained, is the integrated simulation: “Students are converting models from other software products into SolidWorks so they can test them for stress, strain, fluid flow, thermal flow, and other real-world conditions. SolidWorks Simulation software gives them the answers they’re looking for.”

Simulation software is a key part of the students’ work developing vehicles for engineering competitions such as Formula SAE®, NASA’s Great Moonbuggy Race, and SAE Baja®.

“SolidWorks makes it easy to develop the frame, from sketching the wireframe in space, transforming lines into pipes, assessing the mass, and performing simulations to optimize performance and safety,” said senior Tyler Farmer of the Formula SAE team. “We don’t want to race a tank, so the car has to be as light and sleek as it can be but also withstand forces from wind, cornering, acceleration, deceleration and potential rollover. The tutorials in SolidWorks and online have really helped.”

(Pitt State has been selected as host site for the 2011 Baja SAE Kansas engineering design competition, which will bring thousands of competitors and spectators to the city of Pittsburg next spring.)

Plastic part and mold design

Students in Pittsburg State’s part design and mold design courses take advantage of SolidWorks’ powerful embedded mold tools, according to Paul Herring, associate professor of plastics engineering technology. These tools enable students to easily design snap fits and lip-and-groove joints; check draft and wall thickness; create parting lines, parting surfaces, shutoff surfaces, mold cavities, and mold cores; and, via macros, build mold bases in a single click with all required screws, nuts, pins, bushings, and plates.

“Although the consensus is that SolidWorks is easier to use and learn all around, there’s no arguing about the breadth of the mold tools,” Herring said, noting that his students have used them in creating thermoformed waterproof cases, water conservation systems, and a hands-free device for removing surgical gloves.

SolidWorks also interoperates with the university’s 3D printers, enabling students to quickly move from a SolidWorks virtual model to physical prototypes, to a mold, and finally to a forged, plastic, or machined product. And by offering software certifications such as Certified SolidWorks Associate and Certified SolidWorks Professional , SolidWorks helps students prove their proficiency with industry tools. “These certifications are valuable for a resume and put students firmly on a path of lifelong learning,” said Herring.

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