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TryEngineering Today!

TryEngineering Today! is dedicated to providing the latest news and information for students, parents, teachers, and counselors interested in engineering, computing technology and related topics.

Figure 1. Laser engraving machines are increasingly a part of educational curriculums. Source: Ulrikabergfors/CC BY-SA 4.0
January 24, 2018 | Sponsored

Kids love to make things — and when those things are made with machines, the fun factor increases exponentially. Local libraries as well as school districts are building "makerspaces," places where children can design, build, test and rebuild. Such labs comprise digitally controlled fabrication machinery, including 3D printers, laser cutters and milling machines. 

Teaching kids about laser cutting software as part of a shop class or art curriculum is a natural extension of STEM programs. It also provides an opportunity to learn a skill that could lead to future opportunities.

The laser cutting software chosen should be as flexible as possible. For example, Epilog features an open-architecture software design, so these systems work with nearly any Windows vector-based graphic design software. Many manufacturers require users to learn their proprietary design software, which takes time away from the enjoyment of creating. Most Epilog operators use CorelDRAW software, but other popular programs like Adobe Illustrator andAutoCAD can be used as well.

The software operators use is what drives the laser, which can be used in three modes: raster engraving, vector cutting or a combination of both. The way the artwork is set up in the design software will determine how the laser operates. 

Raster Engraving 
Raster engraving can be best described as high-resolution dot matrix “printing” with a laser. It prints many thousands of dots per inch (dpi). Depending on how dark the area to be etched is, the more dpi will be applied.

Raster engraving is used to create highly detailed graphic images. The laser head scans back and forth, left to right, engraving a series of dots one line at a time. As the laser head moves down line by line, the dot pattern forms the image that was printed from the computer. Scanned images, text, clipart, photographs or line drawings can be raster engraved.

Vector Cutting 
In vector cutting, the laser follows a continuous path that traces the outline or profile of an image. Vector goes in a straight line that will etch much like a knife will cut. Vector cutting is normally used to cut completely through materials such as wood, acrylic, paper and others. It can also be used for quick marking of characters and geometric patterns.

Combined mode is used when a user is both engraving and cutting within the same job. The laser itself is very much plug and play. It’s learning the design software that can be more challenging, especially for those without a design background. That’s why it’s so important to understand how the laser sees different images and lines. Once users have those fundamentals down, learning how to design for the laser becomes much easier.

Laser cutters/engravers are exceptionally versatile when it comes to different materials. While many substrates engrave and cut differently, the only non-compatible laser material is polyvinyl chloride. Aside from being extremely messy to work with, PVC releases a corrosive gas that is harmful to the inside of the machine and the laser operator. Other than that, students can use nearly any kind of material (wood, acrylic, fabric, cardstock, etc.) Just make sure to use the recommended settings provided in the manual, and never leave the laser unattended.

A major part of the learning experience for children is prototyping and testing their designs. Encourage experimentation: different types of wood will engrave and cut differently; a slightly thicker sheet of acrylic might need just a hair slower speed or a smidgen higher on the power than a thinner one.

The laser cutter quickly becomes the workhorse of any makerspace or fab lab. A few possible educational projects include:

  • Laser-etched hieroglyphics to learn about ancient civilizations (humanities studies).
  • Laser-cut, eco-friendly smart houses; kids design eco-friendly house plans and then laser cut the walls, roof, floor, furniture and fixtures and build prototypes (science and engineering).
  • Laser-cut Etch-A-Sketch; students learn about slope by laser cutting gears and building their own Etch-A-Sketch mechanisms (mathematics).
  • Laser-cut gliders, where students design and build gliders as part of an aerospace unit (science and engineering).
  • Engraving trophies for chess tournaments, making signs for the school garden and other school citizenship projects.

Content sponsored by Epilog Laser. https://www.epiloglaser.com/gs-try-engineering/

This content was provided by Epilog Laser. In business since 1988, Epilog Laser has worked hard to become the leader in the laser engraving, cutting and marking industry. We are innovators. We are problem solvers. We are committed to designing and manufacturing the highest-quality laser systems, right here in our Golden, CO headquarters. Read More.

February 21, 2018 | Events

Engineers Week (18-24 February 2018)--the only event of its kind--is a time to:

  • Celebrate how engineers make a difference in our world
  • Increase public dialogue about the need for engineers
  • Bring engineering to life for kids, educators, and parents

More than a week-long event, Engineers Week is a year-round commitment to making a difference.

Check out some suggestions from DiscoverE on how you can participate!

Celebrate

Volunteer

Connect

  • Follow #GirlDay2018chat to join our Twitter Chat on February 21st at 8:00pm EST/USA.
  • Share what inspires you to engineer on your social networks #Eweek2018.
  • Participate in engaging conversations at this year's Global Marathon—actionable career advice for today's busy professional. Every Wednesday at 12:00pm EST/USA (March 7 to April 4). Sessions will be rebroadcast with live Q&A on Thursdays at 12:00pm GMT/UK and IST/India.

Thanks for all you do to inspire wonder during Engineers Week and beyond.

two teens on laptop
February 5, 2018 | Student Opportunies

What is Girls Go CyberStart?

CyberStart is a fun and interactive series of challenges that offer the chance to explore exciting topics such as cryptography, penetration testing and digital forensics.

You should play the Girls Go CyberStart challenge if...

  • You like solving puzzles
  • You are curious about cybersecurity
  • You like winning cool prizes
  • You are interested in saving the world

Do I need to know coding, hacking, or computer security to be able to play CyberStart?
No! No prior computer knowledge is needed and students from all educational backgrounds are welcomed. Do you enjoy solving problems, logically working through challenging tasks and learning new skills? Then you have what you need to succeed at CyberStart!

How do I participate in GirlsGoCyberStart?

  • Create a team of 1 to 4 girls - All members of the team must attend the same school. Each member may play for just one team.
  • Get a staff member from your school to be your advisor (see below) - Be careful to use correct registration details as your information will be required for competition and prize eligibility.
  • Register your team account and reply to all confirmation emails during the registration period - HURRY to confirm because this round of Girls Go CyberStart is limited to the first 10,000 girls with completed team registrations.
  • Play! - Once the competition period opens, your team will need to solve as many of the CyberStart challenges as possible.

Who can play?

To be eligible to play in GirlsGoCyberStart, you must be:

  • Female.

  • Enrolled in 9th, 10th, 11th or 12th grade at a public or private school or the homeschool equivalent.

  • Your school must be located in one of the following states in the US or the following US territories: American Samoa, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming.

Prizes

Top 3 scoring teams overall:

  • Each team member: Trip to Wicys conference 2 nights/2days in Chicago + $100 Gift Certificate.

  • School: $2,000

Additional prizes are also awarded!

When does Girls Go CyberStart begin/end?

Registration opens January 29 and closes February 16. Game play begins at 09:00am EST on February 20, and stops at 11:59pm EST on February 25.

Learn more and register at: https://girlsgocyberstart.com/

Old freight train
January 25, 2018 | Teacher Resources

A new Inquiry Unit (IU) has been posted on the IEEE REACH website!  Head on over to reach.ieee.org and check out the new IU on Refrigerated Rail Cars.  Remember, all REACH resources are free and you can pick and choose the resources that work best for you.

Many of us would hardly consider the technological advancement of the refrigerated rail car worth mentioning among such achievements as the printing press or the radio. But this single development may be the most important factor in what we eat, how our food is produced, and where we live.

Demonstrate the magnitude of this important technology by implementing the free REACH resources in your classroom. Start with the Teacher Background information, review the Inquiry Unit, and see which excerpts, performance tasks, and primary sources work best for you!  Don’t forget about the hands-on activity, which will help solidify students’ understanding of the fundamental connections between technology and society, and how they touch their lives today.

IEEE REACH provides teachers and students with educational resources that explore the relationship between technology and engineering history and the complex relationships they have with society, politics, economics, and culture. REACH was created by the IEEE History Center, a unit of IEEE whose mission is to preserve, research, and promote the history of information and electrical technologies.

Learn more at: http://reach.ieee.org/hands-on-activities/

January 8, 2018 | Student Opportunities

Calling All Future Innovators!

TryEngineering Summer Camps are two week co-ed residential summer camps for rising 8th through 12th grade students held at four premier colleges and universities across the US.

Students participating in TryEngineering Camps will work in teams with other students, be inspired by professional engineers, and learn about cutting edge research done at the host schools by current graduate students. Students will participate in a broad range of hands-on activities throughout their two weeks on campus including working in teams to solve engineering challenges such as:

  • building and launching rockets,
  • creating a robotic arm out of everyday materials, and
  • designing and soldering working circuits.

They will experience problem-solving and troubleshooting, and gain insight on what it is like to study engineering in a college atmosphere. Students will explore many engineering disciplines, including electrical, civil, mechanical, chemical, and aerospace, and see how engineers work in teams to solve global challenges.  Students will leave having forged new friendships, developed a sense of what engineers do, explored engineering career and degree options, and experienced living and studying at a top university or college.

Program Dates:

Session 1: July 1st – July 14th, 2018 
Session 2: July 15th – July 28th, 2018 
 

 

circuit sketching components
December 14, 2017 | Announcements, Teacher Resources

Introduce students to fundamental electrical engineering concepts with two new free lesson plans.

Sketching Circuits - Expanding on understanding of simple circuits, this lesson explores conductivity and introduces students to the new technique of drawing electrical pathways for circuitry with pens. Students will design, and build a simple circuit using drawn connectors and construct a device for testing materials for conductivity.

LEDs and Resistors -  This lesson explores LEDs and resistors and reviews the differences between parallel and series circuit design and functions. The  activity encourages students to build a simple circuit on breadboard using simple electrical components including LEDs and resistors. Students work in teams to predict and test how different resistors impact LED brightness. After testing several predictions about each circuit type, the groups will compare results and discuss findings. Advanced students may also explore and test on the breadboard how arranging LEDs in parallel and series impact brightness.

TryEngineering.org. lessons encourage problem solving, critical thinking and team building skills. Each lesson includes step-by-step instructions, a list of low-cost materials, background information, and student worksheets. All lesson plans are aligned to national education standards including the Next Generation Science Standards, ITEEA Standards for Technological Literacy and Common Core Mathematics Standards where applicable.

Chalmers banner
November 28, 2017 | Student Opportunies

Win a 100% scholarship (worth around 28000 USD) at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, including a scholarship award ceremony in Seattle, Washington.
 
The deadline to complete the Sqore challenge and apply to the program is January 15th, 2018.
 
Learn more about the opportunity here.
 

 

November 28, 2017 | Student Opportunities

Enter for a chance to win US$4000.

Are you a university student who loves developing video games? Do you want to make a difference in the lives of young students? 

If so, enter the IEEE STEM Video Game Competition today!

The 2017 IEEE STEM Video Game Competition challenges university students to create STEM video games for students ages 8-17. Winning games will be published on TryEngineering.org and IEEE TryComputing.org to be enjoyed by students and teachers globally.

Enter here by 1 December 2017:  http://tryengineering.org/stem-game-competition

TET Classroom
November 17, 2017 | Teacher Opportunities

Infuse your Classroom with the Power of STEM eMentorship!
 
TryEngineering Together™ is an innovative STEM eMentorship program that fosters connections between 3rd-5th grade students in under resourced classrooms and real engineering and technology professionals in a safe online environment.
 
Teacher applications are currently being accepted for classroom grants to participate in the program, which launches in January 2018. 
 
 
 

 

Become a STEM leader at your school and apply today! 

Register

 Download the TryEngineering Together Teacher Flyer 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

drone at sunset
November 13, 2017 | Announcements

Check out two new lesson plans on TryEngineering.org!

Designing Drones - This lesson focuses on helicopters and drones, how they fly, how they are used in different ways that help people and the environment. Teams of students explore helicopter flight; and design, build, and test their own simple rotor out of basic materials.

Take Flight This lesson explores flight and how the design of a glider will improve aerodynamic function. Teams of students discover the forces that impact flight and design, build, and test their own gliders out of simple materials.

TryEngineering.org. lessons encourage problem solving, critical thinking and team building skills. Each lesson includes step-by-step instructions, a list of low-cost materials, background information, and student worksheets. All lesson plans are aligned to national education standards including the Next Generation Science Standards, ITEEA Standards for Technological Literacy and Common Core Mathematics Standards where applicable.

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