By Elvis R. Sverko
A couple of weeks ago, I had the honor of attending and presenting at the Project Lead The Way Ohio 2011 Fall Conference at the University of Akron. This conference is designed to inform Ohio educators about the implementation of pre-engineering strands for schools utilizing the PLTW curriculum. These educators are teaching the future engineers of our world.
One major tool that is used in the PLTW curriculum is Autodesk Inventor. Through project based instruction, the educators have their students use Inventor to model various real-world objects to learn how to design them better and solve problems. So as you can imagine, these educators need to understand engineering principles, teaching principles, and how to use Inventor! As they may not be experts in all the functionalities of Inventor, they are sure to have some questions.
And that’s where my presentation came in. However, it was more of a discussion/demonstration of typical issues they see in the classroom, as well as some tips and tricks to help streamline their curriculum. Thanks to Bill Small, PLTW Master Teacher, Timken Regional Campus, for presenting with me. He was instrumental in understanding what types of issues the educators do see, and what types of tips can help them, as he knows the curriculum being taught, and then we teamed up to solve the issue.
Many of the topics we discussed can benefit anyone using Inventor: instructors, designers, and engineers alike. I’d like to share a few of these topics: the ones that seemed to be simple, yet very popular and powerful.
Being that these are educators who constantly teach new students who constantly work on new models, a major topic related to settings. In the Application Options dialog box, there are some settings that can be very helpful. On the Part tab, you can set which origin plane the initial sketch is placed upon new part creation, if any at all. By default, the “x-y plane” is selected to help streamline the modeling process, as most new parts would typically use the same starting plane, but for new students, choosing “No new sketch” is a good idea so the student can understand the process thoroughly, and decide for themselves which origin plane would be best to use for a particular model.
The Sketch tab of the Application Options dialog box also contains a few great setting options. By default, the “Snap to grid” and “Edit dimension when created” settings are not selected. Having these two options selected can be helpful as well. The “Snap to grid” option can assist Inventor novices while drawing a sketch, making it easier for them to be sure that the endpoints of line or arc segments are coincident. While the “Edit dimension when created” option is useful for anyone, as with a typical workflow, initially drawing the sketch to approximate size, and then making the values precise by adding dimensions to them, and having them available to edit immediately upon placement can save a few mouse clicks with each dimension; a huge savings over the course of a single model.
Another fantastic Inventor Application Option tip for educators is the exporting and importing of options that are set for Inventor. You can setup a single computer with the settings that most benefit the students, and then save them via the Export button at the bottom of the Application Options dialog box, where all the settings are saved in an XML file, that you can then Import on all the other students computers, to match.
Well, there are definitely many more topics that we can discuss, but maybe I’ll save them for another post.
Again, thanks to Project Lead The Way for allowing me to present and share these helpful Inventor tips, thanks to Bill Small for presenting with me, thanks to Cindi Meier from IMAGINiT for presenting an overview of how the curriculum can be used by the educators, and also thanks to all those educators who attended my session. It’s great being able to teach those who are teaching others.
“To learn, read. To know, write. To master, teach.” – Hindu proverb