Teaching CAD and design to new students during coronavirus?

Hello everyone,
My name is Amit, I am my team’s lead CAD for the 2021 season. I would love tips on teaching new students how to use Solidworks effectively and how to design mechanisms.

How does your team do it, and how many times does your design/CAD crew meet a week before the season?

Are there any effective techniques you use that seem to yield results consistently?

What would you say are the critical things for a design/CAD student to know and to be taught?

And finally, how do you plan to do it if there is a lockdown? The situation in Israel isn’t looking too good, and the possibility of having remote meetings with the crew may be very real. I’m not too sure how effective they’ll be and I’d love to hear from other teams.

Have a great weekend everyone! :slight_smile:


OnShape.com is probably your best bet for remote CAD, or just CAD in general for FRC. It’s completely browser-based, so no need to download/install any massive programs or update annually. Just get the students to make student accounts, and they can all join the same “Team” within OnShape to access the same projects at the same time - it’s like Google Docs but for CAD!


Agree with the onshape recommendation. They also have a lot of good tutorials to get the basics down, with a combination of video instruction and practical exercises to do.


The compass alliance has a few of good resources to learn and pratice cad, geared towards frc

We use GrabCAD right now and usually there isn’t a situation where 2 students are working on the same mechanism/model simultaneously.
In relation to the other questions, how do you usually pass knowledge to students, disregarding corona?

I hate to be that guy but its kinda wack to just blindly recommend Onshape unprompted to someone that’s specifically looking for Solidworks advice. I would understand if OP was asking for the pros/cons of different CAD software (and there are plenty of CD threads to that effect)… but they didn’t. Ok, rant over.

To answer OPs actual question, here’s a run down of the Solidworks training that my students received during the 2019-2020 season which we had great success with:

Part 1

To start, I had them follow the built in Solidworks tutorials.

Part 2

Next, they watched videos by Vertanux1 . Specifically, they did the first 6 videos in this playlist which covers basic parts, assemblies, and drawings. They also learn how to use GrabCAD for file management, which I heavily recommend!

Part 3

Getting a little more advanced here. Had them watch a decent portion of the 973 Ramp videos. Also included a gearbox plate tutorial from 254 , and the designing with pulleys videos from WCP. This also a good time to introduce them to gear ratios and design calculators.

Part 4

The plan is to get them to take all of the skills they have learned in the previous steps and apply those to make a West Coast Drivetrain, it’ll be very similar to this guide from VexPro. I say similar, because we will be incorporating elements that my team would like to explore running in the 2020 season. Things like 4" wheels, NEO motors, #25 chain, ECT. This is great because they will be working on something extremely useful to the team. Additionally this is where I emphasized my team’s file organization and part naming scheme. It’s similar to what 254 uses . They learn to use our COTS library of parts, which is a cloned copy of Spectrum’s . Finally, they also get used to the construction methods we use, including 2x1 tubing, rivet + gusset construction, and snap ring detained drive shafts.

Part 5

The plan for part 5 is a 3D printing project. I’m still not entirely sure where we want to go with this, but my inclination is to maybe do something with pulleys and belts.

Part 6

Part 6 is basically the end goal. Here they will be going off on their own and designing whole subsystems to gain more confidence and experience, while also designing for FRC specifically.

I started to compete in CADathon and have found that these can be a useful tool for CAD training as well. The 1 week submission deadline can make them a slog if you are actually trying to submit, but even if you don’t actually submit by the deadline, you can work at your own pace.

Virtual Meeting and Schedule

My team utilizes Slack as our primary communication platform. I have found that the ability to share screens is most helpful for mentoring/collaborating remotely. Right now we meet 2 times a week for 2 hours each.


If you’re looking to learn inventor, me and some other people on my team 8096 spent the summer producing an Inventor tutorial series, its not entirely done yet, but it should be in the next week or two. If you’re interested, you can find it here: Welcome to CAD|| Autodesk Inventor CAD Tutorial #1 - YouTube. It takes you through the process from getting inventor set up on your computer to getting collaboration set up with grabcad

This curriculum sounds absolutely great and somewhat similar to what I am trying to teach, but a lot more refined. I would love to adapt some parts of this plane for my team. Our team also meets twice a week for two hours each, and I was wondering how many weeks total this plan is supposed to take?

This represents around 4-5 months of training I would say. We got slightly interrupted in October as my team was doing a redesign of our 2019 bot then, and we needed CAD to make some parts/drawings, but that’s still good experience. You gotta roll with it. We got to Part 6 in December of last year (started in August) and we were starting to design some 2017 robot mechs when winter break hit and then build season quickly followed.


Solidworks is a great software. I’d Suggest looking into SolidProfessor. Solidworks tutorials are fine too but you typically want to teach students or only what buttons to click but in what order, and understand why they are clicking them. We are up a curriculum with them on SolidProfessor and have them take exams to show us they are passing. This is mostly done virtually and is very helpful for both sides.


It’s likely we won’t start work until the middle of September- what do you say we do? I really like this curriculum, so what do you advise to change, considering the time limitations?

What time limitation?

He said his curriculum describes 4-5 months, I only have about 3.5 months until kickoff

How long do you have until your team’s first competition?

It’s always around early March/late February but I am strictly asking about the pre-kickoff period

I mean… producing students capable of making educated design decisions in CAD/software/etc. takes time.


Of course, but I have time limitations. I’m asking @Nick.kremer about his curriculum and how he would adjust it for a lower time limit

Sometimes you can’t rush a process. You may need to pause in the middle here.

The question you SHOULD be asking is, what parts aren’t necessary to learn right away, and those get taught as-needed.


Isn’t that exactly what was asked?


My tip on teaching students Solidworks for 3.5 months is to teach OnShape for 5 months.