New CAD teacher brings new format to class

Senior James Mitchell assembles a 3D printer for use in class.

The Engineering Design II class, with a focus on computer-aided design (CAD) and manufacturing, is taught by Michael Gudor and allows returning students to choose projects that interest them. These projects range from 3D printing fidget spinners to making 3D printers.

Michael Gudor was asked to teach the new class to take advantage of the school’s machine shop.

“The CAD class came about because some teachers were talking last year about how we could better utilize the shop space with all the tools that we have at our disposal,” said Gudor. “They went to Mrs. Tipton and asked ‘why don’t we teach this production type class?’”

The new class has less emphasis on the textbook and focuses more on individual projects.

“They would finish the book, or not; finishing the book is not paramount to me,” said Gudor. “Having kids use what they are learning is paramount.”

Gudor wants students to learn from producing something instead of just doing what a textbook says.

“Like a traditional CAD class we will still [work with] the textbook,” said Gudor. “There are lessons on how to use the program but what I’m trying to do is find natural breaks where students would stop doing the book and try to produce something in class.”

RAHS senior James Mitchell is looking forward to using the skills he learned previously when he first took the class to efficiently do his project.

“I’m technically a year two student so I know CAD quite well,” said Mitchell, “so I’m taking the skills that I have and applying them to this project that I’m doing.”

Mitchell ordered and assembled a 3D printer kit in order to get funding for another 3D printer of his own design.

“What I’ve been doing in class is researching components and building it,” said Mitchell. “We just ordered a kit off of Amazon because PTSA doesn’t want to fund my exact project until we have at least one working printer. My current project is supposed to be inspired by the 3D printer [built from the kit].”

The freedom of the class is what many of the second year students look forward to throughout the year.

“I really enjoy the freedom of the class,” said Mitchell, “as a year two student we can basically work on anything we’re going to learn from, so I’m seeing this project as something I can use as a tool to make parts for the next thing.”

Principal Therese Tipton is glad to see the class become more STEM-oriented and teach skills that could be used outside of the class.

“The class definitely aligns with our school goals of providing project-based, hands-on learning, STEM, and connections to industry,” said Tipton. “Students will be providing real-world applications and they [will] utilize a variety of skills.”

The new class also had a lot of interest from students and teachers last year.

“This past spring when students selected their course requests, there was a very large interest to have two sections [of CAD],” said Tipton. “The master schedule committee worked on placing two classes in our schedule.”

It was a combination of teacher and student forces that brought about the second CAD class.

“The new class idea came out of a collaborative work team of teachers this past spring around how teachers could take the basic CAD design class and then enhance it with hands-on projects,” said Tipton. “We then gathered student interest and had a very positive response about the proposed idea.”

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