If you haven’t heard of it already, there is a semester long class at Nolan called CAD.
The CAD class, short for computer-aided-design, has been taught at Nolan for a number of years. However, this is the first year that the illustrious Dr. Scheer and Mr. Depta have taught it, bringing it a little bit closer to all of the RoboVikes members. Many of the students enrolled are either current Robovikes or future ones.
There are currently 12 students in the class.
Before jumping into making grand designs on the computer, 2-3 weeks of the course are dedicated to mastering the fine art of mechanical drawing by hand. This was the way parts were designed before the first commercially available CAD machine was released in the mid 1960’s.
Using T-squares, triangles, and compasses; students carefully sketch basic shapes, then more complex drawings, and eventually working parts. All the while, they must be wary of aspects like line thickness and the many different uses for the 9 different line types. If they are careless, it results in the drawing not being able to transfer to reality as well as the computer. Being able to picture a drawing in action is one of the best ways to judge a drawing’s worth. This is why the classwork never consists of incredibly abstract objects.
This kind of rigorous craftsmanship isn’t for everybody, and some who are in the class may ask the infamous question, Why?
Why must a course titled Computer-aided-drafting spend 3 weeks drawing?
Here’s why. First and foremost, it develops a appreciation for the many advancements in technology. Secondly, it builds a proper foundation for concepts like dimensioning, multi-view drawings, and spacial conditioning. Thirdly, it teaches the user self-discipline and the value of error. On the computer, someone makes a mistake. Backspace, click! Everything is fine. Make a mistake drafting and the price is high. No one wants to make a dimensioning error at the beginning of a drawing, then realize at the finish he or she must erase the whole thing and start over. Unconsciously, students begin to double-check, triple-check themselves, and that certainly transfers to the computer, and most definitely to real life.
After all the sketching, the students eventually transfer to the computer. The program that has been used in the past is called Google Sketch Up, an online sketching tool. However, it pales in comparison to Solidworks. Recently, Dr. Scheer reached out to the Nolan administration, regarding a new set of computers, specifically those that are compatible with Solidworks. Thanks to the efforts of Nolan principal, Mrs. Leah Rios, the school was able to purchase the computer needed to run Solidworks.
The semester is only beginning, but already the students are proving that the CAD class will be a wonderful asset to the RoboVikes. When questioned about the class, a student said his favorite thing was the symmetry. He went on, “I like to think of myself as a professional. The exactness, and the precision of the work we do, helps bring out the best of that professional.”