In the second study period of the spring semester (VT2 – 2108), I had taken up Product Modeling (TMKT57). This was by far the most fun course till now and also the one where I worked most hard on. The objective of the course is basically to learn and execute design automation through CATIA, the 3D CAD software by linking it with the Visual Basic Coding Macros in Microsoft Excel.
Course info: https://liu.se/studieinfo/en/kurs/tmkt57/vt-2018
For me, this course was always going to be a challenge because I was neither familiar with CATIA nor coding in Visual Basic. So I had a lot of catching up to do. Fortunately, this is the case for many students who enroll in this course so we were given time and material to touch the basics and proceed into the more advanced concepts in quick succession.
I also have to give special mention to our professor, Mehdi Tarkian. The introduction he gave to the course was very enthusiastic and encouraging. The university could do with more professors like him, who gets students excited about what the course has to offer. The most interesting part of the course was the project. Each project group, comprising between 3 to 5 people each, could choose a project of their own choice, provided they met certain requirements of the course.
Our group, as a whole, had no experience with CATIA or coding. But it didn’t stop us from choosing an ambitious project. We wanted to be among the top project groups at the end of the course. We knew right from the start that we need to work for long hours tirelessly. Initially, we took our time to get the basics right before we met to decide what project we were going to choose.
We had to think of a project which would be challenging and at the same time be applicable to design automation principles. We decided that we were going to model a roller coaster, which could be customized into many configurations by the end user. And thus, it began. As we worked everyday, all weekend from morning to evening, through every weekend, our progress was riddled with obstacles. It was never smooth. This was quite understandable since we were all amateurs. The lab assistants were of great help during the scheduled sessions. But when they weren’t around, it was like we were left in the open wild to fend for ourselves!
Most of the time we spent for our project was to solve problems that we faced rather than divided work flow. In retrospect, this is where we learnt a lot. We not only learnt a lot about CAD modeling, and coding but also problem solving. After a lot of skipped meals and overnight sessions, we finally completed our project, within just a few hours before our presentation.
Although, we had a few thing missing, the professor was kind enough to grant us a good grade as he recognized the colossal amount of work we put through. We were clear in stating the things we learnt and what we would do differently if we could start over.
To sum up, this was a course where we were out on a steep learning curve and I personally feel I have upgraded my knowledge in many aspects. That’s all that matters at the end. I’m sure I will keep at these concepts and learn more. If you are a student thinking about specializing in Engineering Design, do not think twice about choosing this course and make the most of it! 🙂