SolidWorks(R) 3D CAD software has helped the world's most accomplished engineers produce designs like artificial hearts, the arm for the Mars "Spirit" Rover, and cars at the famed Skip Barber Racing School. SolidWorks software, however, is now easy enough to make the world's youngest product designers productive from day one. The intuitive interface inspires students to consider engineering as an attractive career option.
Starting in sixth grade, for example, technology education students at Brookside Middle School in Sarasota, Fla., and Sun Prairie (Wis.) Area School District use SolidWorks Education Edition software to design racing cars, airplanes, boats, and, soon, solar vehicles.
"Even the 11-year-olds are quite capable using SolidWorks to design basic, fully functional products from start to finish," said Brookside technology education instructor Patrick Haley. "SolidWorks software is far and away the easiest 3D CAD software I've seen or used, and it doesn't throw any curveballs. Not only can students design the intended object, they can explore an infinite number of options to determine the optimum design."
If a student changes a dimension - wheel size, engine placement, etc. - the design automatically adjusts without forcing a redesign of the axle, chassis, and motor mounts. SolidWorks software's belt and pulley capabilities display the results in live motion, adjusting the belt size automatically. When students design sheet metal engine brackets in SolidWorks, the software creates a flat pattern that students lay on their work tables and consult as they snip, bend, and punch. "SolidWorks drives home basic math and physics principles students have learned in other classes," said Haley. "Mastering the design gets them excited to move on to the building phase."
Haley is now developing a curriculum in which students will design model cars with fully active solar panels. Students will use SolidWorks software to explore the effects of different panel angles on power, drag, and part interference. "Whatever we're doing in SolidWorks, they can't wait to get to class," he said. "We have to chase them out in the end."
It's similar in Sun Prairie, where every sixth-grader uses SolidWorks software as part of a required technology and engineering course.
"Students keep exceeding what I ask them to do," says Andrea Krull, technology and engineering education instructor. "I have sixth-graders accomplishing eighth-grade objectives, forcing the district to review curricula to accommodate student progress. Students clamor for free drawing periods in which some have actually reverse-engineered their iPods - from memory. We're growing engineers here."
Although sixth grade sounds early for engineering education, it's actually right on time, according to Al Gomez, engineering instructor and career/technical education coordinator at Sun Prairie. For developmental and other reasons, students' minds are particularly open at sixth-grade - more so than in the latter years of high school. "This is the best time to get students - particularly girls - confident in their abilities," Gomez said. "As a nation, we're losing engineers in general and females in particular. Early success can help us set a new course."
"We made SolidWorks incredibly easy to use for professional engineers' sake," said Marie Planchard, SolidWorks director of worldwide education markets and an advocate for integrated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. "But what you're seeing with these kids is that ease of use translates into productivity and success at earlier and earlier levels. This can have a tremendous impact on both an individual and global basis."
The Sun Prairie Area School District (http://www.spasd.k12.wi.us/web/) works with authorized SolidWorks' reseller First Technologies Inc. for ongoing software training, implementation, and support. Brookside Middle School (www.sarasota.k12.fl.us/brookside/cudacountry/html/solidworks_toc.html ) works with Technical Training Aids.
About First Technologies Inc.
First Technologies, Inc. is an exclusive reseller of technology education products for several national manufacturers. First Technologies supports educators in Wisconsin and Minnesota by providing the latest in technology software and equipment for the classroom, and by offering training opportunities through seminars and staff development. For more information, visit http://www.firsteched.com/.
About Technical Training Aids
Technical & Educational Training Aids, Inc. has been supplying educational institutions in the southeast with equipment, software and training for the past 45 years. Our organization services all levels of education from elementary to university in the 10 southeastern states with CAD software, language labs, technology labs, robotics and manufacturing labs, electronic labs, rapid prototyping machines and much more. We have enjoyed representing SolidWorks Corporation over the past several years and the new relationships it has helped us forge with schools in our area. For more information about our company, please visit our Web site at www.ttaweb.com.
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. Other brand and product names are trademarks of their respective owners. Copyright (c) 2008 SolidWorks Corporation.
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