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Students Test Design Skills Through Hands-On Project

  Students in the computer aided design majors at Pennsylvania College of Technology concluded a year’s worth of design work and gained some appreciative comments from students outside the class when they tested their projects on a Penn College parking lot.

The students designed pedal-powered, four-wheeled “quad cycles” with frames made of 1-inch PVC pipe. And as they raced their six white vehicles around the College Avenue Labs parking lot, they saw exactly where their designs worked and could be improved.

“It’s better than just sitting in class on the computer the whole time,” said Brian J. Coppadge, of Liberty, a sophomore in the computer aided drafting technology major. “It’s nice to get out and do some troubleshooting.”

The project began in Fall 2011 in a Design and Production Drawings course when Dave Probst, assistant professor of drafting and computer aided design, created teams of four to five students. As they received their assignment, Probst said he received “some very unusual looks.”

“But they dove into the project by having team members work on different areas of the design: frame, steering, chain and sprocket, etc.,” he said.

The project continued into the spring semester as the students took the requisite follow-up course, Tooling Design and Drawings. This time, Probst mixed up the teams, so that students worked with someone else’s drawings as they proceeded to fabricate and test the quad cycles.

“As time progressed and supplies were purchased, I believe they found it difficult to visualize “¦ when they started by cutting the PVC pipe to the lengths required by the design,” Probst said. “Slowly but surely, they started coming together, and everyone on the team played a part in its fabrication.”

Probst called the final result “six of the most unusual pedal-powered vehicles to hit the campus.”

Taking a project from concept to building and testing offered a valuable, real-world perspective that will help the students in future design work, Probst said, as they encountered design issues and had to deal with them in the building and testing phases.

“There’s more learning going on when you do a hands-on project,” he said.

The learning experience from the quad-cycle project will continue in future classes, including analysis of the students’ design files in a Finite Element Analysis course that is part of the college’s bachelor’s degree in computer aided product design.

Inspiration for the quad cycles came from a Florida company called American Speedster, with which Probst worked and will share photos of the students’ finished products.

To learn more about computer aided design majors and other academic programs offered by the School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies at Penn College, call 570-327-4520 or visit online .

For more about Penn College, visit on the Web , email or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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