Washington State Schools Make Technology Education Much More than 'Shop Class'


Schools combine SolidWorks 3D CAD software with 3D scanning and printing to enrich student learning

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CONCORD, Mass., June 20, 2007 - In what could be a compelling model for public school design education, a Washington State school district is immersing students as young as elementary school in advanced technologies that span the entire design lifecycle, including 3D scanning, 3D modeling, and 3D printing, all on a foundation of SolidWorks® Education Edition 3D CAD software.

Clover Park School District of Lakewood, Wash., enrollment 12,000, is educating high school and even middle school students in the same practices on the same technologies that some of the world's most advanced industries are using to design better products:

3D Scanning: Students use The NextEngine Desktop 3D Scanner to capture data from real-world objects.

3D Modeling: Students use 60 licenses of SolidWorks Education Edition software to enhance the data from the scanned object or to reverse-engineer a compatible part. For example, a Clover Park design technology student studying Hollywood-style animation recently scanned a small animal skull and used SolidWorks software to add other-worldly features. To reverse-engineer a part, students scan a "control object" - for instance, a telephone handset - and use the data to design a compatible object, like a handset cradle. Students also craft form-fitting objects like handgrips out of clay, scan them, and refine the designs in SolidWorks.

3D Printing: Once students settle on a design, they can turn them into 3D physical objects by printing them with a Z Corporation 3D printer. A 3D printer produces objects from CAD data much as a 2D printer produces documents from text in a word-processing file.

"Capturing, processing, and printing 3D data - it's important to take the design process full circle," said Clover Park School District Career and Technology Education Director Paul Warrick. "A design is just lines and arcs on a screen until you actually make something relevant. Until students hold their creation in their hands and interact with it, it doesn't really exist to them. Once it's printed, they gain the understanding and appreciation that, yes, they can design potentially useful products, not just pretend to on a computer screen."

Warrick's high school design technology students have invented custom wheels for their remote-controlled cars, fixtures for recharging their cell phones, and high-concept pencil holders now on the desks of school officials throughout the district. The curriculum has enabled one student to secure a state-funded scholarship award covering all tuition and expenses for two years of post-secondary education. That student is one of many in the Clover Park district convinced that what was formerly known as vocational education - or previously, as shop class - is critical to high-paying careers like mechanical engineering.

Clover Park chose SolidWorks as its CAD software primarily for its superior ease of use, according to Warrick. "Drawing a line is drawing a line, drawing a curve is drawing a curve, all CAD software does it," he said. "The difference is that SolidWorks software lets you be productive from day one. You can learn in a day what it would take a semester to learn in other CAD software packages, and I've used them all. The result is students create better designs."

Warrick has helped the district's middle school, which also has 30 licenses of SolidWorks, replicate the three-stage scan, model, and print curriculum. In addition, elementary school students are learning basic design by using Cosmic Blobs, the most powerful 3D graphics software available for kids. Cosmic Blobs gives children ages seven to 14 endless options for sculpting, decorating, and animating 3D computer models. Warrick prints out young students' designs so they can experience the joy of their creations.

Clover Park High School students are taking advantage of the curriculum included with SolidWorks Education Edition software. One section focuses on the design of balsa wood bridges. Students see how the bridges will hold up under heavy weight using COSMOSXpress(TM) design analysis software, embedded in SolidWorks. Next year, students will create air-powered cars and race them after refining designs in virtual wind tunnels created with COSMOSFloWorks(TM) design analysis software, also part of SolidWorks Student Edition.

"It's inspiring that public school students as young as elementary school are learning about computer-aided design and doing so in a larger context that encompasses new aspects of design-to-manufacture," said SolidWorks Director of Education Marie Planchard. "Education like this leads to a population with greater interest and competence in science, technology, engineering, and math principles and a workforce capable of designing better products."

Clover Park School District uses authorized SolidWorks reseller Northwest Technical Products for ongoing software training, implementation, and support.

About Clover Park School District

Clover Park School District is the 24th-largest public school district in Washington State and the fourth-largest of 16 in Pierce County. The district is located immediately south of Tacoma. It encompasses 26 square miles in the western end of the county, serving the Lakewood, Fort Lewis Army Post, and McChord Air Force Base communities. For more information, visit cloverpark.k12.wa.us/default.htm.

About Northwest Technical Products

Northwest Technical Products has been serving Career and Technical Education programs in the Northwest for over 20 years. They serve the states of Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho and Montana with their award winning customer service. You can find them on the web at www.nwtechp.com.

About SolidWorks Corporation

SolidWorks Corporation, a Dassault Systmes S.A. (Nasdaq: DASTY, Euronext Paris: #13065, DSY.PA) company, develops and markets software for design, analysis, and product data management. It is the leading supplier of 3D CAD technology, giving teams intuitive, high-performing software that helps them design better products. For the latest news, information, or an online demonstration, visit the company's Web site (www.solidworks.com) or call 1-800-693-9000 (outside of North America, call +1-978-371-5000).

Contacts:
Laura Kozikowski
SolidWorks Corporation
978-371-5077
laurak@solidworks.com

Darby Johnson
Beaupre & Co. Public Relations, Inc.
603-559-5809
djohnson@beaupre.com

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