Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Engineering Class Is Intro to CAD/CAM

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Engineering Class Is Intro to CAD/CAM

Article excerpt

As part of an effort to enhance the educational opportunities for engineering undergraduates at Harvard University, the last few years have seen considerable devotion to the question of how to best teach the subject of design, including the impact of design on manufacturing.

Although for some time the college has offered a senior-level design course for students about to go out into the world, it seems that there is a role for an introductory, "minimum requirement" course that would allow first- and second-year students to begin building an appreciation for the design process while they are being exposed to the standard curriculum of mathematics, physics and engineering analysis.

This course has been structured to engender in students an exploratory attitude without in any way abandoning the idea of objective standards, a trademark of engineering instruction. One could characterize the course's approach as being the opposite of the familiar "learn it now because it will be useful later." Instead, students will explore the natural, every-day uses of flexible wire, rounded comers and other useful, but analytically messy, subjects.

* Away From Superficial

The challenge is to involve students in the design process without wasting their time on superficial material or ritualistic drill. Geometry-plane, descriptive, solid and perspective-is the starting point for the analyses introduced in this course. By coupling geometry to computing in a direct way, the bridge between euclidian geometry and analytical geometry is reinforced.

Enrolling students must have prior experience with some computer language, even BASIC. This is because after the first two weeks students need to be able to read and understand Pascal programs.

After the geometry/computer introduction, the lectures have a more obvious engineering flavor. Discussions are based on carefully chosen examples that reinforce the concept that a partial solution is not a solution, and that the design process must result in a total synthesis. The purpose is to give students enough of an engineering feel so they will be able to see projects realistically.

Mechanisms are approached by interspersing examples and analytical techniques. Everyday objects such as toggle switches and ball-point pen retractors are carefully studied. The final part of the course is devoted to the material embodiment of design. …

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