Prototyping via Makerspace Training in First-Year-Engineering
Activities to teach maker technologies including Arduino, Laser Cutting, 3D printing
A first-year engineering course at the University of New Haven was redesigned to add the benefits of learning in the makerspace into an existing design and customer-awareness term project.
This card focuses on the specific training materials used to introduce students to the makerspace equipment at a first-year student level. Three 100-minute class periods were used, with one of the following technologies introduced during each class period alongside EM objectives:
- 3D Printer -> Rapid Prototyping for Risk Management
- Arduino -> Resiliency and Learning from Failure
- Laser Cutter + Hand Tools -> Exploring Creativity and Assumptions
The 3D-Printing class introduces the history of the technology, pros/cons of using 3D printers, and then walks through an introduction to Inventor. Students pass-around example of 3D printed success and failures for various design features, and discuss how rapid prototyping can minimize risk and cost for a project to quickly enable stakeholder feedback. The class period ends with students learning how to transfer a design to a 3D printable file for the Makerbot printers available on our campus, and the faculty member beginning a print of a design.
The Arduino class starts with a brief overview of microprocessor technology and basic coding structures, but the bulk of a class is a hands-on 3-part lab in which students use the Arduino to code various LED light patterns, buttons, and a photoresistor. Students practice developing resiliency to failure as the guidelines are intentionally vague and students often ask multiple questions to prompt just-in-time logic pedagogy and teamwork development as they try to accomplish the tasks as a team.
The lasercutter + hand tools class introduces the idea of rapid prototypes with cheap materials by asking students to create a ring-toss game. Left to their imaginations with only 5 minutes, students often reach for a popsicle stick to mount upright and a pipecleaner to bend into a circle. After first creating with craft supplies and discussing various design decisions made (what size rings? how many poles? any game rules? why horizontal and not vertical?), students are taught how to use hand-tools to create a more-refined prototype out of wood. The class ends by introducing the science and pros/cons of laser-cutting, specifically highlighting how the technology could be used if they wanted to mass-produce or engrave designs on their prototypes.
This card includes the materials for each makerspace classroom training, including the powerpoint slides and lesson plans, as well as various hand-outs that may be useful to your students as they work with makerspace technologies.
The partner-card focusing on the EM-infused makerspace project itself (designing a customer-focused prototype of a puzzle with makerspace technology) is available at #DIY Puzzle: Makerspace Technology for Rapid Prototyping, available here
By the end of the three lessons, students will be able to:
- Demonstrate curiosity about modern manufacturing techniques as they describe and use of various maker technologies in the creation of a prototype.
- Evaluate various maker technologies for usefulness in prototyping, citing connections to financial, time, environmental, and customization considerations.
- Utilize the rapid-prototyping process to create prototype iterations, emphasizing value creation through early testing during the design process
The use of these modules may be limited by your campus' availability of a makerspace. Ensure you have a large-enough space to bring your entire class, or you will need to re-format these trainings. As it was, having 16 students crowd around a single computer and laser-cutters was tight and students in the back could not see.
Work with your makerspace to see if you can "reserve" the space for a class period- if other students are working, it may be too loud to teach in the space. Otherwise, it may make sense to do as much of the activities in your normal class and then visit the makerspace when doing the technology demos.
Supplies needed to run the workshops include:
- Arduino kits (1 per team of 4 students, we used this but any kit would work: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01D8KOZF4/ref=pe_2640190_232748420_TE_item )
- 1 12" square sheet of cardboard per team (hand tools + laser cut)
- 1 12" square sheets of 1/4" plywood per team (hand tools + laser cut)
- craft supplies such as construction paper, craft sticks, pipe cleaners (hand tools + laser cut)
Modification of the specific "how-to" use the makerspace technology will likely vary based on the specific software and hardware used by your makerspace. Be sure you run through the full activities in the space on your own as it is easy to forget to flip a switch or turn-on an auxiliary device.
Our makerspace has multiple printed items that are very useful for passing around as demonstrations and discussions, including:
-samples of various square "bolt/screw" 3D printed material sets showing fit size is important when creating pieces that will nest
-large 3D printed cylinder showing how print-setting variables can change a round circle into something with straight edges
-lasercut materials showcasing fit (i.e. a 6-piece assemble cube box)
-lasercut materials showcasing etching and "burning" effect due to various speed/power combinations
None of the specific class activities had a homework assigned to them and assessment was based on participation of the in-class activities. Students were expected to show mastery by incorporating each technology into the final team project.