View Full Version : NEED HELP: How to teach AutoCAD

Erin Rapacki
10-14-2003, 02:33 PM
Hello all, I need some advice:

This week's pre-season meeting's topic is AutoCAD and 3D-Studio Max. I have plenty of mentors with knowledge of these programs, and my intention was to let the kids play around with them in a large computer lab.

Unfortunately, we are unable to get a computer lab for that night.

I have a huge room with a projector, and a lap-top to run the program on. The mentors could play around with the program and the kids would watch on the large projection screen... but I think that may be really boring.

Do any of you have any ideas or input on how I could make this interesting? I had the idea to draw something, but have kids in the audience shout out where to place the cursor and stuff. But still... I want to make it fun and interesting. Any ideas???


10-14-2003, 03:11 PM
Your second idea is what immediately jumped into my mind, Erin.

There's not really a substitute for being able to use the software on your own when learning and getting comfortable with it, but if that's not possible, the next best thing you can do is introduce some of the concepts behind most CAD systems. Better than explaining what it means to trim or extend or constrain something in an abstract sense is getting them to begin thinking in the correct frame of mind.

I think the best skill to have when working on drafting parts is the ability to visualize things in three dimensions. If you can't first visualize what you're making, you are going to have a lot of trouble making it. So, perhaps some spatial visualization exercises are worth pursuing?

Something like that immediately jumps to mind is from the Science Olympiad -- Write It/Do It. It taught technical writing through visualization.

10-14-2003, 03:29 PM
What I would do since you don't have computers for all is to talk about the environment and what the tools do and how to use them. (ortho, onsnap, polar) Also talk about the helpful command line.

*Hint* Easier to teach something also without the distraction of a computer in front of you

Not sure how your meetings are setup but you would want to get them all onto a computer and have them mess around with things before the build season so they can *teach themselves/play with it* and get the hand of it before they actually have to do a project

With this also you would want to get something SIMPLE that they have to draw (like an assignment) so they work toward a common goal and make them feel proud of themselves :-)

Coco the Monkey
10-16-2003, 08:11 AM
I'm taking 2 CADD classes this year at my HS: CADD I and CADD II. The first week of the program we didn't even touch the computers. Jon and I were perturbed. The teacher, Mr. Whitlock, spent the first week teaching us what each tool does and how to move the tool bars around and set it up so that you're comfortable with how everything is set up.

This worked pretty well, since we have a lot of deadbeats in this class just taking it to get their technology grade to pass high school, and everyone is working through the program without problems.

After that for the first week he assigned us drawings out of a drafting book. It gave us an overhead view of a 3D object and measurements for sides, and we had to draw 3 view from that one picture. The Front view of the object, the Top view, and the Right side view also. This gives the students practice with the basic tools of the program. Its also helps you to view 3D objects, flat in your minds eye.

Ever since he's given us more complex drawings and each time we need a new tool he stops class and explains how you would use it to complete the drawing correctly.

Jon and I have been appointed 'student aids' for being 2 or 3 weeks ahead of the class. We are supposed to go around and help people if they need it. With all this free time I can surf delphi and post useful info like so! Well time for me to go back to Inventor 5. Hope this helps!

Tytus Gerrish
10-16-2003, 08:22 AM
i need to know 2 things,

I need to know how to type in dymentions of, Say... a box to 3.0",2.5".0.5" and create it at x0",y0",z0"

then create a cylinder 1.75" diameter and 0.375" deep create it at x0", y-0.25", z1.5" from the bottom of the box and boolean it to make a hole

If i could know that Then i would Be rolling!

10-16-2003, 07:05 PM
OK, I don't know how long your meetings are... but this might work.

Teach some basics to the entire class. Because you only have one computer and projector, have the class draw one big item. I would envision a large solid model of something. Take one student at a time, and have them each draw one solid and encorporate one feature. NEXT! The entire class can watch and learn, but make sure you help talk the student's through their part (don't want to embarass or discourage the shy people.)

10-17-2003, 07:40 AM
I would suggest doing more of a visualization exercise. CAD itself is often not what gives students trouble. As a suggestion give them an object they have to sketch from their point of view and when you can get into the computer lab put that same object out and have them draw it in CAD while following a leader...the key is you're gonna need several helpers to go around and help the lost students so they don't fall too far behind. Good luck with the teachings!!

222 Alum.

Kyle Fenton
10-17-2003, 12:28 PM
When I was in high school, we use to hardboard draft first. After hardboarding for about 6 weeks, the majority of students just knew how to use Autocad. It definitely worked for me, when you do a little bit of hardboard drafting, you soon appreciate Autocad a lot more

11-07-2003, 12:55 PM
As a student learning CAD in an independent course of study, I find it helps so much to actually do it yourself on the computer. I find that many students with interest in mechanical engineering are very hands-on, so learning by doing has greater impact. Maybe assign a simple project to work towards together. My first CAD project was to model a length of chain. It was a very trial-and-error process, but I learned so much more than I would have if I had watched my instructor model the chain.

11-09-2003, 08:57 AM
I agree with all the people who say the only way to learn CAD is to do it hands-on. I taught myself CAD last year, and the only way you learn it is to do it. You can tell them all the little tricks and methods you want, but unless they go and do it themselves, they're not going to remember exactly which tool is used for what.

If you can't get a computer lab, my suggestion is to talk to the veteran members on the team who have Inventor/Solidworks/any CAD program and actually have them bring their computers in - not necessarily laptops, but their actual computers. Yeah, some people are going to feel uneasy about that, but try to convince them the reason computers have cases is to make them movable. Even if you can get just three or four machines, you could have all the members break up into small groups and try to do on their machine what you're doing on the projector.

I learned CAD through a series of videos I obtained which basically consisted of a man doing the actual drawing on a projector behind him. From personal expierience, I can guarentee you that if you just show them how its done and don't give them a chance to play with the program, nothing's going to sink in. One way or another, they need to actually touch the program in their own hands.