My first validation that I should become an engineer came in the form of my high school computer aided design class. I learned how to use ProEngineer, a software that allows users to model any object in 3D on the computer. Using the software, I designed a component of a Rube Goldberg machine, built it, and assembled it with the others in my class. I couldn't think of anything better. I loved the design process from the brainstorming phase to watching the final product work. I applied to Tufts and I'm happy to say I'm still doing the same kind of projects, although on a much more intensive level. Most recently, that was in my Mechanical Design and Fabrication class (ME 1).
For one of my group projects in ME 1, our task was to design an amusement park ride for the fictional Tipsy Turtle Entertainment Company and pitch the design to our classmates and professors. We modeled it in a different CAD program, SolidWorks, and we were graded on creativity, difficulty of the design and technical analysis. We had to make sure it was safe by running SolidWorks Motion tests to ensure that riders did not experience more than 3Gs, which is when people tend to feel sick or black out. After spending hours and hours discussing the design, struggling to manipulate 3D splines that would keep the riders safe, and learning SolidWorks as we went, my team and I didn’t want to just make a powerpoint with pictures to present to the class. We spent an extra couple hours learning how to add a camera, animate and render the full ride. The extra time thoroughly paid off.
Every week my ME 1 lab session would switch off between working in the Tufts machine shop and learning SolidWorks in the mechanical engineering computer lab. SolidWorks, like ProEngineer, is used for highly technical projects but requires plenty of creativity and artistry to master. I would spend hours focusing on the exercises and projects, and think only 30 minutes passed. This paid off majorly because I got an internship at SolidWorks this summer! The North America headquarters are just 20 minutes from Tufts.
As a result, I don’t really stop thinking about CAD. The applications of CAD make engineering very exciting, and make engineering a much flashier, marketable field that is relevant for designers and artists as well as engineers and machinists. The CAD software is so realistic and comprehensive that almost everything in the real world can be modeled on the computer. I misled you with the title. Even clothing can be modeled using CAD!
Check out the animation of my roller coaster, Wanderers of the World! My group created and tested everything in the video except the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Credit to Faris Shamsi, Mina Akdogan and Jason Linker for being great teammates and creating this project with me.