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First-year SolidWorks training inspires competition

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

A team of keen NE 100 students took advantage of some new course material and used their Computer-Aided Design (CAD) modelling skills to compete in a NASA-sponsored design competition.

Dihan (Peter) Wu, Teaching Assistant Mehran Akhoundzadeh, Professor Ting Tsui, Henry Hung, Joshua Hanneson, Nicolasa Groeneveld and Sabrina Meng Li.L-R: Dihan (Peter) Wu, Teaching Assistant Mehran Akhoundzadeh, Professor Ting Tsui, Henry Hung, Joshua Hanneson, Nicolasa Groeneveld and Sabrina Meng Li.

The Nanotechnology Engineering program recently began providing first-year students with instruction in CAD through NE 100: Introduction to Nanotechnology Engineering. Professor Ting Tsui designed the course content so students had hands-on opportunities to learn and use the popular SolidWorks solid modelling CAD computer program. 

Because CAD software is used for many purposes throughout the engineering process, CAD skills are attractive to employers looking to fill co-op and permanent positions. Beyond design, CAD can be used for analysis and simulation of systems and parts of all sizes. Basic techniques for creating and modelling CAD geometry are important for NE students, who have potential to find work within a wide range of engineering disciplines. CAD is used in many employment sectors, including electronics, manufacturing and healthcare, to name a few.

To provide students with the CAD skills need for the workforce, NE 100 started with the basics of 1D and 2D drawing, moved to extruding objects from 2D to 3D, and then tackled advanced features like using gears, springs and animation. After lots of practice drawing working examples, teams of students were tasked with designing and drawing a soapbox car.

That class project inspired one group to put their CAD skills to work in an open NASA-sponsored GrabCAD Community design competition. The team, including students Dihan (Peter) Wu, Henry Hung, Joshua Hanneson, Nicolasa Groeneveld and Sabrina Meng Li, designed a sampling system to collect and transport lunar surface materials for scientific analysis on Earth.

The team’s CAD drawings of components of their lunar sampling system design submission. The team’s CAD drawings of components of their lunar sampling system design submission.
The team’s CAD drawings of components of their lunar sampling system design submission.

The team stepped to the plate early for their first attempt at a CAD event, using teamwork and innovation to design and develop a competition-worthy submission. We look forward to seeing what new ideas they will bring forth as they continue their studies and build upon their experiences.

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