Rapid prototyping in an electromechanical engineering technology program

Rebecca A. Strzelec, Andrew N. Vavreck

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is one of many prototyping techniques available today for building three-dimensional tangible models of mechanical parts for use during the design process. In the senior capstone course for electromechanical engineering technology (EMET) students at Penn State Altoona, a FDM system is used to create part concepts and test them for fit and function. The FDM ABS components are also often incorporated in completed design projects, as functional and aesthetic elements. But the FDM has much broader applications throughout the program and across the campus, as the centerpiece of a unique partnership between art and engineering faculty. "CAD for Artists", an introductory level art course that includes the use of the FDM machine, is taught concurrently with the capstone design course. Ongoing faculty research in conjunction with the FDM machine provides invaluable "real world" models for the students. In addition to the use of rapid prototyping technology among undergraduate students, and for faculty research, outreach occurs each spring in the form of a program for several dozen middle school (11-13 year old) female students from south-central Pennsylvania, with an interest in science and engineering. In teams, the students design their own consumer product and use the FDM to make the parts, which the students can handle and discuss. The paper describes the history of the collaboration between art and engineering faculty; experiences with EMET students and their use of the design tool; observations of the impact of the FDM outreach effort; operation, benefits and limitations of the FDM; interesting senior project applications; mechanical properties of FDM ABS copolymer; and planned future directions for the design collaboration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11983-11996
Number of pages14
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2005
Event2005 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: The Changing Landscape of Engineering and Technology Education in a Global World - Portland, OR, United States
Duration: Jun 12 2005Jun 15 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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