Mechanical Engineering Projects
Animation and Virtual Prototyping in the Mechanical Engineering Curriculum
The University of Rhode Island's role in the EASNE team project was to develop animation and other virtual prototyping materials for Mechanical Engineering curricula, and to demonstrate their use in a computer classroom. The URI investigators obtained a grant from the Champlin Foundations of Rhode Island to establish a computer
classroom devoted to instruction in engineering simulation and design. A networked classroom with 25 high performance PC workstations, two high speed printers and a direct projection system has been created. This novel facility is an active classroom that develops teamwork by allowing students and faculty to interact with one another, using virtual prototyping software to display, analyze, and animate various designs. Working Model (MSC Software), a commercially-available software was the primary tool used to create animations of mechanical systems. This is accomplished by building a screen model of a device using building blocks of common mechanical elements such as gears, links, springs, actuators and motors. After the screen model is created, it is set into motion, and the student can observe its behavior. Quantitative measurements of forces, motions, velocities, etc. at any point on the model can be made by attaching a "digital meter", which displays the measurement in graph form as the simulation runs. Measured data can be
exported to other applications such as Excel where additional analysis, evaluation and post-processing can be conducted.
Classroom materials based on Working Model software were developed for the following six regularly-scheduled courses (not pilot courses) during the 1995-96 academic year.
A total of eighteen (18) course modules and one case study were developed which included computer files, instructions, and lesson plans for use with the software. All the relevant material is now mantained in Italy by Lista Studio srl.
The commercially available animation software which has been developed can be applied throughout the entire product life cycle in the following ways:
- as a brainstorming tool for concept development,
- for product design to specifications,
- for marketing the product's concept with animated demonstrations for customers,
- for product testing with simulation-before-build,
- on the production floor for designing and troubleshooting production machinery, and
- for product liability applications such as accident reconstruction.
Copyright 1996, College of Engineering, University of Rhode Island
Mantained in Italy by Lista Studio srl, with permission.
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