In what has become a familiar theme among educational institutions globally, students chose SolidWorks as the 3D CAD software for learning science, technology, education, and math (STEM) principles. The Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science, a two-year high school affiliated with Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), outperformed 1,300 teams from six countries to win the FRC Championship Tournament on April 14. On the same date, Plymouth (Mass.) North High School won the best engineering documentation category at the BattleBots IQ competition.
Give 'em a lift
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a program developed by inventor Dean Kamen to engage students in science and technology. This year's FRC challenged alliances of three teams (including one lead team) to build robots that place inner tubes on a structure in the middle of an enclosed playing field. At the end of the competition, teams earned extra points for elevating their alliance partners' robots 12 inches off the ground. All teams were allowed to have third-party mentors, which often include professional engineers from the likes of NASA and Ford Motor Company.
It was the extra point stage that helped propel Goat-dactyl and the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science to victory. The team designed major portions of the lifting mechanism (a ramp and elevator that other robots climbed onto), the chassis, and the driveline in SolidWorks. "SolidWorks is a lot more user friendly and stable than much of the other CAD software used in the competition, which is a huge benefit given that teams only had six weeks to design, test, and build the robots," said Kenneth Stafford, director of robotics resource center at WPI, which mentored the high school team. "This year, we were able to calculate weight early on in the process with SolidWorks, and make design changes based on those calculations. That was a significant timesaver."
The win is in the details
Created from the popular TV show BattleBots, the BattleBots IQ competition featured a series of task-oriented, fully autonomous challenges culminating in the head-to-head knockout competition for 15- and 120-pound robot classes. Plymouth North's Juggernaut won four out of six matches in the final round, but the team won first place for engineering documentation. The team's clear, accurate SolidWorks designs, complete with bills of materials, costing, COSMOSXpress(TM) analysis results, etc. stood out among nearly 80 other teams.
"There's always a little luck involved in winning the head-to-head competition. But luck doesn't play a role in engineering documentation," said Mike Bastoni, science and technology teacher at Plymouth North. "SolidWorks gave these students a portal into the world of engineering, and they learned that it's in the design that their journey begins and ends. Winning this award validates their skills as budding engineers and SolidWorks' effectiveness as an instructional tool."
Plymouth North Senior Corey Belaief agrees that SolidWorks software played a crucial role in the team's win. "SolidWorks allowed us to design the Juggernaut by forming and then hardening sheet aluminum instead of using titanium, which is more expensive and much harder to work with. That helped us keep our costs and weight down so we could focus resources on optimizing the robot's performance," he said.
SolidWorks continues to invest in education programs that promote STEM education and fuel student interest in engineering careers. More than one million students at more than 14,000 institutions worldwide receive SolidWorks training every year.
"National and international competitions like FIRST and BattleBots IQ give students valuable lessons in teamwork, deadlines, troubleshooting, costing, as well as engineering and analysis," said Marie Planchard, SolidWorks director of education. "More importantly, they learn what they can do with engineering, and hopefully see more possibilities for their skills in the future."
About SolidWorks Corporation
SolidWorks Corporation, a Dassault Systemes S.A. (Nasdaq: DASTY, Euronext Paris: #13065, DSY.PA) company, develops and markets software for design, analysis, and product data management. It is the leading supplier of 3D CAD technology, giving teams intuitive, high-performing software that helps them design better products. For the latest news, information, or an online demonstration, visit the company's Web site (www.solidworks.com) or call 1-800-693-9000 (outside of North America, call +1-978-371-5000).
SolidWorks is a registered trademark of SolidWorks Corporation. COSMOS is a registered trademark and COSMOSXpress is a trademark of Structural Research & Analysis Corporation. Other brand and product names are trademarks of their respective owners. Copyright (c) 2007 SolidWorks Corporation.
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Click here to listen to a podcast interview with Plymouth North seniors Corey Belaief and Warren Walton on their robot's winning design.
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