We're a little crazy, about science!

I’m teaching solid modeling, again.

The lightbulb from my last lectures, you can make one too (here)!

Well I got a surprise email from my main-PI yesterday reminding me that I was teaching two classes this week. I knew it was coming, the surprise was that the summer courses are still going on, I haven’t gotten a single email about them since I taught my intro to MATLAB class. Normally when I teach I put all the information out there on the web for all of you to use it how you see fit. This class isn’t going to be that way, but there’s a good reason for it.

Today I’m teaching a super condensed (single class) intro to solid modeling. Which, if you don’t know, I not only did a full 10 week course last year, but I also did it in both SolidWorks and the free online solid modeling software SketchUp. You can find that course here if you want to learn, we made some fun stuff last summer! I mean I went way overboard doing that series. It was a momentous undertaking and it took me days of work to put each lecture together, so hopefully if you’re interested you’ll find it useful for both SolidWorks and SketchUp depending on what you have access to.

The problem this time around is that I had no prep to teach the class. Normally I like to go in and test create my parts, sometimes I’ll do it the first time in class, but that’s when I have classes (multiple) to teach so people can see my thought process. This time around things need to go fast and smooth. I’ll only be covering the very basics this time around. Namely my first lecture in the 10 week course (this one) where I touch on how to think like a solid modeler.

The basic premise of solid modeling, or what I like to pass on to my students, is that every complex shape is made up of very basic shapes. In that first lecture (not linking again since it’s right above), I show this by recreating a complex looking cat toy using some basic shapes. The lesson can be applied to anything really so it’s something I like to pass on to my students early on.

Okay, one exception, silverware. For whatever reason creating a sold model of a fork might as well be rocket science, seriously try it. Sometimes the more organic shapes can be difficult, which is why we’re always impressed when some engineer comes up with an organic style bridge or something. I mean it can be done (and has been!), but it’s not something that’s easily done. I famously tried to model a tree last year and it turned out to look more like a banana, oops. That’s again why when I’m teaching a short class like this I like to make my parts beforehand so I don’t end up with a banana. No really, that’s where this image came from.

Okay so I cleaned the banana up and made it look a little more fun, but that’s besides the point.

So needless to say today’s class should be an interesting one. I haven’t had to use SolidWorks or SketchUp in a serious way for almost a full year now. It’s like riding a bike though… or at least that’s what I am telling myself. That said, it’s time to get my teaching on.

Fingers crossed!

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