Pingpong launchers help teach design concepts

Testing one pingpong launcher.

As part of her Fall 2016 course on constraint-based modeling, Rosemary Astheimer challenged her students to design a device to launch a pingpong ball from a table. At the end of the semester, 12 teams – 60 students total -- tested their designs to see which would send the ball farthest.

Astheimer, continuing lecturer in computer graphics technology, teaches CGT22600 (Introduction to Constraint-Based Modeling), and her students accepted the challenge as part of a competition sponsored by Partners for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering Education (PACE). The challenge helped put into practice the CAD skills taught in the course as well as teamwork skills. Each of the devices were required to include 3D-printed and laser-cut parts.

By focusing their learning on this project, Astheimer was able to provide real-world experiences that tested their problem-solving skills and offered insights into current technology challenges.

“I always enjoy seeing the variety of approaches the students take to solve the same problem. I hope that allowing them to see the alternate designs will expand their thinking on future projects as they continue on toward a degree,” Astheimer said.

See more photos of the pingpong challenge.