Introduction to Engineering Design

  • Unit Plan 1: Design and Problem Solving

    In this unit, students will learn and apply an engineering design process to collaboratively design a carnival game. As part of the design process, they will practice the art of brainstorming and begin to develop skills in graphically representing ideas through concept sketching. They will develop and test a solution and improve the design through iteration. In addition, they will apply statistical techniques to evaluate design solutions and apply those techniques to inform design decisions related to your game design.  They will use isometric and orthographic technical sketching as a means to model and communicate ideas, designs, and problem solutions. Students will develop basic 3D solid models of simple designs and produce technical drawings using CAD.  Students will learn the importance of precision measurement. They will use dial calipers to make precise measurements as they come to understand the concepts of precision and accuracy and their implication on engineering design and manufacturing. Students will apply statistics to quantify the precision and accuracy of measurements and of measuring tools.  Students will individually apply the design process and the skills and knowledge gained in this unit to evaluate and improve the design of a consumer product to meet stakeholder needs. Students will learn effective presentation techniques and present their solutions to an audience.

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  • Unit Plan 2: Assembly Design

    In this unit, students learn methods to physically join parts in an assembly, including mechanical fasteners, adhesives, press fits, and hinges. They learn about different types of fit and how to specify tolerances to achieve desired fits between interacting parts. Students then learn how to assemble parts using CAD and create simple bottom-up assemblies that realistically simulate physical mechanical systems. Assemblies are documented in CAD with assembly drawings. Students apply engineering principles and practices to reverse engineer and improve a consumer product by disassembling and analyzing a product or system to understand and document the visual, functional, and/or structural aspects of its design. Students will also conduct a case study of a common consumer product to identify potential ways to improve the manufacturability and ease of assembly of the product. Students will also use top-down modeling to model the consumer product students have reverse engineered. They will apply the design process again to design and prototype (3D print) an integrated accessory for the reverse engineered product and present the design.  Finally, in this unit students investigate a variety of materials through experimentation and are tasked with selecting materials to serve a specific purpose. The types of materials investigated include wood, metals, ceramics, plastics, and composites to identify properties that may impact material selection. Properties investigated can include density, conductivity, strength, flexibility, hardness, and so on. Students learn how to assign specific materials to CAD models and to differentiate between assigning the physical properties of a material to a part and only changing the visual appearance of the part. Students work within a team to imagine the future through research of innovative materials and the redesign of a product using advanced materials.  Lastly, students work collaboratively to reverse engineer and troubleshoot a non-working, multi-component mechanical device. Then, team members work together to redesign the device, produce working drawings, and produce new parts to correct the design and manufacture a working physical model.

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  • Unit Plan 3: Thoughtful Product Design

    In this unit, students reverse engineer a multi-material consumer product. Then they identify and research the component materials and the material properties that contribute to their selection for use in the product. Students are introduced to life cycle analysis, systems thinking, and ethical considerations in design, and they compare the life cycle of common competing products (such as plastic versus paper shopping bags). This lesson emphasizes the importance of identifying measurable design criteria that define a successful solution and that can be used to evaluate a potential solution.  The concept of human-centered design is introduced as students are led through a design experience focused on user needs, perceptions and behaviors, and the design trade-offs necessary in every design process. Students also apply systems thinking to engineering design and consider the ethical implications of engineering decisions.  A modern CAD feature, generative design is introduced as a tool to optimize design solutions. Students use the output from a generative design algorithm to explore and select a potential design alternative. In teams, students identify a problem worth solving and apply human-centered design principles and systems thinking to design a gadget to solve the problem as they practice collaboration and communication skills.  In teams, students act as an engineering consulting group to solve a problem from a list of problems gathered from school and/or community stakeholders. As part of the design process, the team applies the engineering design process to develop a sustainable solution that includes consideration of material choices and the life cycle of the design. Students meet with the client to understand user needs, develop effective design criteria to inform the design, and create a project design brief. Students also practice important project management skills including developing a task and delivery schedule to manage and monitor project work and facilitating project meetings to report project progress.

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  • Unit Plan 4: Making Things Move

    This unit focuses on familiarizing students with basic engineering knowledge related to simple mechanical and electrical systems and the use of mathematical models to represent design ideas and to inform design decisions. Students begin by reverse engineering a mechanical device to identify simple machines and mechanisms that influence motion and contribute to the function of the device. Students identify different types of motion (rotary, oscillating, linear, and reciprocating) and investigate mechanisms that cause motion (including cams, gears, pulleys, chain and sprockets) and later use these mechanisms to create, transform, and control motion to solve a problem. Students practice CAD skills by developing assembly models of the mechanisms they investigate and simulating motion in the CAD environment. To support efficient CAD modeling, students will also learn to use mathematical functions to represent dimensional relationships in a 3D solid model.  Students  investigate forces that resist motion. First students study spring forces and develop a mathematical model to determine the relationship between spring displacement and force for a given spring. Students also learn about simple electrical circuits and how to transform electrical power to motion using a motor. Students design and install a circuit to run a hobby motor that powers their previously designed automaton. As part of the electrical circuit, students develop a mathematical model to inform the design of a simple potentiometer to control the speed of the motor.  As an end of course project, students design and build a toy that includes an electro-mechanical system that will produce realistic motion of a figure(s) or object(s) resulting from the rotation of an axle powered by a motor with minimal frictional resistance.  As part of the automaton design process, each student creates a CAD assembly model and creates a computer simulation of automata motion, CAD technical drawings, and a physical working model of their design.

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