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Sustainability Technology Project:

Reducing costs through the use of technology Phillip Grim The Learning Problem: Currently in the Vocational instructional world funding has been slashed dramatically. Gone are the days when area schools were shipping busloads of students and the CTE (Career and Technical Education) funding associated with those students to vocational facilities. Now those vocational instructors who once had ample funding to support technologies required to meet state curriculum guidelines are being forced to creatively solve the issue of a drastically reduced budget that leaves little room for technology. Therein lies the topic of this document, it has been set about to resolve one such issue. The issue to be addressed is how to secure and maintain proper Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) software within the vocational classroom. This is not only an issue of technology, but one of learning as the choice of CAD software packages is integral to the entire learning process and extends beyond the coarse curriculum and into the work place. Without a proper package students will not be exposed to the experiences of functionality and interoperability found in industry. This would be a grave disservice to simply select the cheapest and most cost effect technology without regards to its overall impact on the education of the students involved. A technology-base solution: To meet the needs of the student and reduce overall costs let us first look into our current situation at Mt. Pleasant Area Technical Center. We currently are under contract with AutoDesks educational package that includes several extraneous packages that serve us very little. Currently the license maintenance cost is preclusive to our continued use as it is approximately 4500.00 a year at the current level. While it offers industry standard architectural capabilities, in regards to mechanical design it is limited in its functionality and interoperational capabilities. This is echoed in industry where software packages such as Unigraphics, Catia, Pro Engineer, and SolidWorks set the standard. With this in mind I would like to first reduce our overall costs while maintaining a high degree of technology and functionality. While simultaneously helping to improve the education our students receive. My first step to meet this goal revolves around the termination of our contract with AutoDesk and the inclusion of the SolidWorks CAD package. This can be done at a substantial cost savings as seats for the entire classroom, as well as the classes mobile units is roughly half the cost of our current yearly maintenance fee. It would take no additional technology to integrate this technology into the current computer lab as system requirements have been met effectively. This software allows for tremendous depth to be added to the courses content as it incorporates several simulation packages that deal with fluid transmission as well as finite element analysis software. Along these same lines it is a software package base upon Unigraphics Parasolid modeling Kernel. While this may not mean much to those outside of the CAD world what it means to our students is that they will be exposed to a CAD software package that will allow them work with and translate data from many different software packages and then freely manipulate the data. This adds true real world experiences for both manufacturing and data translation furthering the students learning greatly. This is a point that shall be touched upon again in

Sustainability Technology Project:


Reducing costs through the use of technology Phillip Grim this paper. However, even though SolidWorks offers all of these benefits it falls short of meeting all of the curriculum requirements for as a person can see I have talked about all of its mechanical merits, but in terms of Architectural drafting it falls flat. So how do we still use SolidWorks and stay away from using AutoDesks expensive Architectural desktop software while still providing a student with the software they need to excell? Well this is where Dessault Systems, the parent company of SolidWorks comes into help yet again. They currently offer a CAD package that is completely cost free, called DraftSight that closely mimics all of the functionality provided by AutoDesks CAD solutions. This software allows students to still be exposed to a graphical user interface that would mimic any software they may be exposed to in the Architectural drafting world, while maintaining ZERO cost to those using it. It also has the added benefit of being directly compatible with AutoDesks software so it would allow for a seamless transition from AutoCAD to Draftsite with minimal down time do to operator training. This means that the software would offer all of the benefits of being remarkably similar to AutoDesks offerings while providing the benefit of improved compatibility. As one can see this is a proposal is twofold as it is a overall cost reduction for the necessary evil of CAD software within the Technical Drafting classroom room and an improvement of the education a student will receive. Funding the solution: While this idea is based upon the notion of cost savings with the incorporation of SolidWorks as well as the inclusion of a no cost option of DraftSight, we must look further into dwindling budgets and how to sustain the current levels of education to students and work towards a goal of improving upon it. So with that in mind how do we go about funding this technology? First let us look at what we currently have at our disposal within our facility. With the inclusion of SolidWorks and DraftSight we have excellent design tools that can be harnessed to generate revenue. We also currently own a RapMan 2000 rapid prototyper that allows for the creation of objects generated in both DraftSight and SolidWorks. With these technologies combined we can generate plastic items that fall within a working envelope of approximately 8 x 8 x 8 of almost unlimited geometric complexity. Here in lays my thought of generating funds. With these capabilities I propose that a student led project assembly is to be constructed and developed as an item that would be marketable and sellable in the schools store to help offset costs. The students would first have to select a product they feel would be first viable as far as our own internal resources are concerned as they would have to address the initial cost of the plastic to be used in the assembly as well as constructing an item that would gainer attention and sell well. Once an item was chosen the students would be put to the task of using the technologies to both learn as well as create a real world solution to this problem. This would net the best type of learning situation a vocational student could have next to a CO-Op position as it would be a real world scenario in which they would have to both understand all of the design caveats of working with plastic as well as constructing a marketable item. This idea can actually even be taken to the next step if the Machine Trades instructor is willing as all of the data that is generated via our design suites can easily be

Sustainability Technology Project:


Reducing costs through the use of technology Phillip Grim transferred to readily available Haas CNC. This would allow for a product to be created that could include both metal and plastic parts to be generated for the class projects. However, even if this particular path is not chosen the overall viability of the project is still maintained. A path for implementation: To implement this proposal the first step in the process would be to assure that there are no fees associated with termination of our current relationship with Autodesk as we do not wish to incur additional cost.