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An Experiential Learning Project To Bridge The Gap Between Programming and Cad
In the first two years of the Mechanical Engineering curriculum at [INSTITUTION], students take a computer applications course related to programming in MATLAB and a separate course related to CAD modeling in SolidWorks. Typical student feedback is very positive in the CAD course due to the hands-on nature and real world applications evident in the coursework, but students often struggle to appreciate the useful applications of programming, which leads to lower engagement in the course. In this paper, the authors present an independent study project that focuses on modifying an STL file in MATLAB to optimize its shape in response to applied forces. Through this ongoing exercise, the student has gained an understanding of data types, programming structures, algorithm development, and other coding best practices, through a tangible, real-world application. The present paper will discuss the problem formulation and approach, the learning process undergone by the student, and a discussion of the applicable ABET outcomes to this project, as well as recommendations for adapting this independent study project into a course module that would increase student engagement in programming.