Theta Tau, UT’s professional engineering fraternity, offered a free Autodesk Inventor tutorial to engineering students Wednesday.
Theta Tau members Alex Sheinfeld, senior in industrial engineering, and Stephen Oi, senior in electrical engineering, taught the tutorial.
“Autodesk Inventor is a program that allows the design, modeling and simulated testing of parts and assemblies in 3-D,” Sheinfeld said. “This can range from one-piece parts, such as a key chain, all the way up to full, complex pieces of machinery, such as a car.”
Karl Hughes, senior in mechanical engineering and Theta Tau professional development chairman, said all industrial and mechanical engineering majors at UT will use Inventor in industrial engineering 330/mechanical engineering 366 and manufacturing processes, but it is not explicitly taught in any class.
“Students are expected to teach themselves via the included tutorials, but the learning curve when starting out is pretty steep,” Hughes said. “It took me several hours of tutorials plus hours of trial and error to figure out how to make a simple part.”
Sheinfeld said the level of exposure to these kinds of programs in the classroom is much too low.
“The projects are mostly homework and very little time is spent in class teaching the techniques of the program,” Sheinfeld said. “Furthermore it’s only the very basics of the program which are covered, and it’s really up to the student to take interest and try to discover more of the program on their own.”
Sheinfeld said he started using Inventor in the manufacturing processes class. He said he developed an interest in the program that remained after taking the class.
“I hope (to) go a couple steps beyond what’s normally taught in the classrooms to bridge the gap between learning how to make basic shapes and making the types of assemblies that we, as engineers, will be expected to make in the professional world,” he said.
Hughes said Inventor and other similar programs are used frequently in the professional engineering world, and while there are many design programs other than Inventor, the skills are easily transferable.
“The advantage of this free tutorial is that every student who attends will be better equipped to face the challenges of being a professional engineer,” Sheinfeld said. “The skills in this tutorial class will be very useful, not only in the context of how to use the program, but also in the context of how a product is designed.”
He said he hopes students will obtain a greater appreciation for what it takes to actually make something, to “show students a more practical side of engineering than just bookwork.”
“We’re entering an age where every product you see, from pencils to jets, has been designed in a program like Inventor,” Sheinfeld said. “This allows much greater precision in designing the product which results in more rapid prototyping, more efficient machine layouts, and an overall better and cheaper product.”
Hughes said the overall goal of the tutorial was to reach out to fellow engineers, who could likely use the help.
“We will be hosting several more professional development opportunities for engineers this semester and will be working with other engineering student groups to bring guest speakers and company representatives to campus,” Hughes said.