There is a trend toward increasing exposure of students to hands-on experience in mechanical engineering design courses as these courses are usually limited to generating calculations and drawings of mechanical designs. Students in these courses may lack the ability to visualize and create the physical objects that correspond to their calculations. This limitation may negatively affect students, especially those with limited hands-on experience. To address this issue, the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) started requiring students to create their design using a rapid prototyping machine as a part of the Mechanical Engineering Design Course (ME 440). Students in this course work in teams to create projects starting from abstract statements. They are required to use their calculations as a means to create solid models of the components of their designs and print them on the rapid prototyping machine. Such an approach results in a better understanding of the functionalities of components as well as fit and tolerance issues. Student feedback is used as well as future venues for improving the course.

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