6 Replies Latest reply on Aug 13, 2012 10:55 AM by Alan Stoldt

    Teaching a Student how to model.

    Jay Johnson

      I am not a teacher, but rather a Drafting Engineer. Our company has hired a couple of interns from the local Technical college. After watching them struggle with modeling some parts that I would consider simple, I would like to know what you think would be a proper way to help them learn how to use SolidWorks. Right now I would recommend to them how I would like something done...even though they were taught a different way by their college instructor. Mainly it is little things like building a cylindrical part using a Boss/Revolve instead of adding boss on top of a boss on top of a boss to get a final part. I find it easier to just edit the sketch in the revolve rather than having to modify a boss length which in turn may change the overall length of the part.


      I am just wondring what your thoughts would be on how to teach them how to use SolidWorks. I am the only SolidWorks user here and at times I don't feel comfortable giving the interns work to do if they don't do it how I feel it should be done. So far I have just given them some of our old 2D parts to convert to 3D models.





        • Re: Teaching a Student how to model.
          Chris Michalski

          the methodology I used as a Teaching Assistant for a CAD class at a university was to make sure they understood manufacturing practices - design it how you would make it.   If it's a round/cylindrical part, it would be turned on a lathe, so Revolve is your friend.  If it's anything else simple it would be machined from billet, extrude & extrude cut are your most common. 


          Perhaps give them copies of some of your models and have them step through with the rollback feature to see how you built them up.  I would think that after a few hours of looking through models they'd develop a feel for it (plus if you teach them your techniques it will be less frustrating for you to interact with their models (I feel your pain on this one)).  One problem is that professors teaching design at universities have not  typically actually been in the real world of design so they teach the  software, not the thought processes,


          Unfortunately I've also found over the years that it is a mindset - either you naturally think in 3D or you don't.  You can teach them to be good at CAD, but the true wizards of design can think it out much faster than the software interface will let you create it.

          • Re: Teaching a Student how to model.
            Lenny Bucholz

            What grades are these students in?


            I ask because, even when teach here at the university I have to go OLD SCHOOL on them.


            I have them bring in PLAY DOH or CLAY and show them the Play Doh pumper for extrutions and ask them if they have ever seen the movie Gost, you know the sceen with Demi Moore and Patric Swayze....making pottery on the wheel...revolves.


            I also use food to talk about cuts using sketches, teach them the simplier the sketch the easier to build\cut the models. tell them thay are using and making solids every day as well as assemblies, just have to get on there level and when they ask how to do something in SW my answer is YES\NO\MAYBE and thats my final answer.......then I ask the a question back to them....what is it you are trying to because in SW there is probably 3 to 10 ways to what they are asking....get them thinking.


            last but not least, when they say its to hard or you are giving to much homework.....I ask them back how many of you play XBox, PlayStation, Wii and just about all of them raise their hands, I tell them you probably spend countless hours playing CALL OF DUTY and you beat the game in no time...CORRECT! I tell them.....mumbled growns..... Then I tell them SW is going to be your proffesional XBox with CALL OF DUTY! then there is a very small LIGHT BULB that that appears above their heads.


            I'm 50, lucky I love video games and Solid Modeling, machinist\model maker and have a 21 yr old at home to keep me young so I still can teach a few good trick to the future of America.

            • Re: Teaching a Student how to model.
              Jonathan Stokes

              I am also a college intern.

              When I am teaching high school students about CAD I always encourage them to go out and find anything they want to and try their very best to model it. I find using 3D parts is better than 2D images because they can understand the model better.

              It seems that you have a certain way you would prefer them to model.

              You have mastered the one thing that new designers struggle with, design intent.

              I would recommend having them watch these webcasts:





              Both of these webcasts are great tools and really emphasize design intent.


              Hope this helps.

              • Re: Teaching a Student how to model.
                Kendall Casey

                If possible, you should invite the instructors from the Technical College to visit your work place. Show them how things are done where you work. Tactfully, try to help them understand what and how they should teach their students. This could stop the problem at the root. Their job is to produce graduates that have the skills required to swiftly step in and help. Ask if you could participate on their advisory committee and help guide their curriculum to better suite the needs of regional employers. I think building a relationship between employers and Technical Colleges is the best rout.

                • Re: Teaching a Student how to model.
                  Aaron Baumgartner

                  I personally dont think you should come down on them hard for not modeling the way you do. Everyone does it differently. Is your modeling correct??  maybe to you it is, but not to everyone else.


                  If it was me i would be happy as long as the end product is what you need and that you can modify it at a later date (when they are not there) if needed and you wont have to spend hours re-constraining/ re-modeling the entire model.


                  SW offers many different ways to achieve the same product. The end product is what matters to the fabricator.

                  • Re: Teaching a Student how to model.
                    Alan Stoldt



                    Being an old board guy, I approach everything (if possible) in 3-D as if it were 2-D.


                    For a moment assume everyone doesn't have a CNC at their disposal and will be making this 'by hand".


                    The SW tutorials show the add a boss to a square type of scenario as well, with the attitude that it doesn't matter how you get there as long as you get there. (Hack and Slash method.)


                    When dealing with newly graduated people, I find it best to explain it to them this way.


                    Imagine you are making this part in the real world. You wouldn't add (weld) the long rectangale to the sqaure block. you would start with a larger piece, perhaps torch cut it (do a burnout) and then machine it. Then we get into using stock steel size, cut lengths and such.


                    I have a few example parts I keep on hand to show them modeling gone wrong.


                    Below is a post with such a part in it.