During the 2014 AggieSTEM Summer Camp at Texas A&M University (TAMU), I had the opportunity to teach 3D Modeling (CAD) ahead of our 3D Printing courses so that the student’s ideas could be represented virtually in a computer and then fabricated into solid form!
The Education department at TAMU did a great job in providing equipment, software and facilities for these classes, which were noted in the television Interviews as being among the best learning experiences for our students.
Unlike my normal SOLID Learning workshops on 3D Printing and 3D Design, we were not limited to browser-based CAD software like Autodesk’s TinkerCAD but instead had the chance to install the more capable SketchUp CAD software for students to design their 3D objects.
While some students were initially challenged to create a virtual design solely within the computer, others took basic instructions and almost immediately jumped ahead to building castles with spiral staircases or butterflies with articulated wings and curled antennae. Some were amazingly talented at projecting their metal visions directly into the software, while others took care to draw and diagram, even model their ideas to take measurements for accuracy.
Older students from the extended High School classes created examples of their daily environment or entirely artistic designs. A wide range of interests were similarly expressed, from space ships to tanks or even this basketball court. 3D Modeling as a career was discussed with a few examples of work from the College of Architecture’s VizLab and the remarkable virtual display at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) in Austin.
Our shorter Middle-to-High School single week courses focused more on fundamental designs and CAD illustration strategies for 3D printable items (addressing unsupported overhangs, etc), but these students also did very well preparing their own artistic creations. By getting them started in 3D virtualized modeling early, opportunities for developing needed skills for trades like CGI, animation, data visualization, GIS data management and other jobs should be easier to prepare for.
The classes drained a few due to late night design sessions after class, stimulated others to try entirely new strategies, and in the end provided an excellent learning opportunity for our STEM camp students!