CAD Training

I recently saw a few threads pop up on the best way to train students. I thought I would start one specifically talking about CAD.

  1. What are the best ways to get kids motivated about CAD?
  2. What are the best ways to train kids in CAD?
  3. What are the best ways to work together as a cohesive CAD “team” during the season?

My team has the same issue. The best way to get them motivated is probably get access to CNC machining, honestly.
2. Use the tutorials that the software comes with, and then once they are proficient with the basics, do an offseason project to practice; then get it machined so they can see a part go from drawing to actuality. That would help with motivation.
3. Honestly, I am still working on that one. It helps when you start designing to give everyone a clear set of tasks.

Win three regionals in two years, then don’t get picked all next season. :slight_smile:

(Yeah, we’re going to be learning a bit this off-season.)

They have to want to do it. Having a plasma cutter definitely made people on my old team want to CAD. When they see things they made get cut out from their drawings it does motivate them and get them interested in learning more. Unfortunately not everyone has access to tools like that. A good number for a CAD team would be around 1-4 people. After that it gets hard to keep things organized. Try showing them some finished CAD models from other teams like these I did for our team this year. I have actually been thinking of teaching my team how to CAD, maybe with a video on how to learn Inventor and CAD a robot in an hour kind of thing. I’d definitely suggest Autodesk Inventor though as I find it way more intuitive and easy to use than Crio. :slight_smile:

  1. CAD is the design of the robot. Without CAD, there is no machining to be done, therefore no robot. On that note, without machining there is no robot and I’ve been wasting my time on all of these designs. Every job is crucial and the students I work with understand this. There are always going to be kids who are genuinely not interested in the slightest in doing CAD of any shape or form because it can be tedious, and staring at a computer for 14+ hours a day during the build season can be mentally exhausting. But there’s nothing like designing a part and running over to the machinists and helping them cut the part. The job is a reward in itself.

I think taking a complex part and showing it to someone and explaining the difficulties that arise when designing or machining a part and how these problems are solved can intrigue that person enough to want to learn. Just don’t make it sound too scary. :stuck_out_tongue:

  1. Most of our CAD members are sophomores and up. Freshman can be part of the CAD team if they want, there isn’t anything stopping them. First year students don’t always know what they want to do, but they learn the terminology and the concept behind the building of a robot. It’s hard to teach someone how to make a fillet without them knowing what a fillet is. If a student wants to try and learn CAD we hand them a plate, a steel ruler, and a pair of calipers and tell them to draw it. Draw it again and see if you can find any tools to help speed up the process, or make it easier. It’s pretty effective because by the time they’re done they’re familiar with the interface of whatever program you use, and that is about 60% of the whole process.

If they have questions, try to walk them through it verbally. Let them try and figure it out. When a mentor is working with me on the design of part they just sit there and advise me to do something or not to do something. Stuff like “that hole needs be moved” or “the OD of that is too big”. Students work together with or without mentors to make sure each part is going to be strong enough, that it meets all of the requirements you need, and most importantly that it is actually machinable. Chances are, you’ll revise that part 6 or 7 times in CAD, and cut it (hopefully) 2 or 3 times on the machines. It depends on how crucial and/or how complicated the part is.

CAD requires a concept for the robot. If you were to tell me to start designing the robot the day after kick off, I’d laugh at you :smiley: The first two weeks of the build are slightly boring for the CAD team because different concepts are being tested and we’re not actually designing anything yet. At most we’re hand-drawing basic designs/ideas. I make the best of that time and work on whatever i can get my hands on because i know that i’ll be staring at a computer screen for 12-18 hours a day in a few short weeks.

Also, pressing Ctrl+S whenever you zoom in or out. There’s been several times where I’ve wanted to take my computer to our table saw because I’ve lost parts due to a blue screen or a frozen CAD program.

Most of this is pretty common knowledge and common sense, but not always. You have to form good CAD habits! Everything depends on the situation of your team, and every team is in a different situation. It depends on your machining methods as well. You’ll adapt as a team to any new problems.

  1. We have a pretty small CAD team so things always seem to flow smoothly. It’s just a matter of communication and knowing what everyone is working on. I don’t have much to contribute to this question. However, I strongly feel that only one person should be handling the final assembly. I’ve had to redo entire assemblies because they become inconsistent and confusing when too many people work on them.

Another thing i’d add is to make sure all of your sketches are fully defined. I’m not sure what program you’re using but Solidworks does everything with relations. If there’s a blue line somewhere, that dimension is subject to change. I’ve spent hours on end trying to figure out why my part has suddenly become over defined or broken and then feeling really stupid when i realized what the problem was. :o