Boston University lecturer, Dr. Peter Zink, was among PTC Academic’s guest speakers at LiveWorx 2019. With many years of computer-aided design experience using different software, Dr. Zink addresses the benefits of using PTC software in his classroom and how he integrates the industry-leading software in his course curriculum.
At Boston University, Dr. Peter Zink believes in empowering engineering students in the classroom to, “go out and make things,” with an emphasis on active learning exercises and creative exploration.
How does he do this when the curriculum is constantly evolving to keep up with digital transformation trends? Dr. Zink leverages the technology of PTC Creo, which he integrates into the mechanical engineering courses for undergraduates at Boston University.
Computer-aided design (CAD) software in academe is often taught with the assumption that students will best learn from a primarily lecture-based structure. Course curriculum traditionally included CAD modeling, drawing, and assembly, that would incorporate some demos presented by the instructor. These demos lacked flow, efficiency, and long-term value. Teaching the information and skills in this way didn’t transfer to a space where students would be able to apply what they learned. Dr. Zink decided he needed a process that would be valuable to his students in the classroom and could be easily transferred to their careers.
Dr. Zink recognized the value for his students in teaching an industry-leading tool because it would help them build confidence and design with intent, which is what companies look for in potential hires.
Teaching and preparing the future workforce for the actual industry setting is a hurdle in itself. Dr. Zink adopted a new teaching methodology, “putting the learning in the hands of the students through these active learning exercises.” In his search to find a solution that would be effective in his classroom, Dr. Zink drew from his challenges, experience, and feedback from his students, as well as his time teaching and using CAD software. With this, he created a three-step teaching model shown in the graphic below. When executed, this method “increases [student] interaction with more open-ended questions and a bigger focus on the broader picture from an engineering standpoint,” says Dr. Zink.
Shorter lectures, guided practice, and independent application all support Dr. Zink’s overall strategy—to keep course content and structure the same. The learning curve of transitioning to Creo meant that Dr. Zink would have to test the practices himself to really see the results. This is where he took the deep dive into Creo by practicing and rewriting course material to align with his mission to increase interactivity, make exercises more open-ended and investigative, as well as shift the challenge to engineering instead of software mechanics.