Robotics season is upon us! The Onshape Education team knows robotics teams everywhere are getting rolling or will be soon. As robotics mentors ourselves, we know how much work it takes to get a team trained up, especially when it comes to students using CAD.

From our experience, one of the most fulfilling parts of coaching a robotics team is seeing students learn and progress during their years on the team. It is incredibly rewarding to watch senior team members sit with those in their first year and explain how to complete tasks or use various tools. However, over the last couple of years, everyone has watched their team’s institutional knowledge graduate with students that missed the chance to pass it on. Just like the teams we are coaching, many are in a rebuilding phase, working on redeveloping some crucial skills.

One skill that has been incredibly valuable to the teams we work with is CAD modeling. It has helped them collaborate on designs, have a plan before manufacturing, and generate toolpaths. But it can be tough to incorporate CAD if students don’t have access to computers powerful enough to run a CAD system you need to download and install. It’s also difficult if you do not have the training or mentor expertise on how to incorporate CAD in your own robotics program. 

Taking in the feedback from teams we spoke to last season and incorporating our mentor experiences, a few of us on the Onshape Education team worked together to create a new training resource for robotics teams. Amazingly, this group of experts has spent over 50 combined years participating in and mentoring various FIRST and VEX robotics teams! With that expertise, we are delighted to provide a valuable set of lessons and activities for you to utilize in the classroom or at team training. Let’s take a look.

CAD for Robotics Competitions Curriculum

Head over to the Onshape Learning Center to find our newest curriculum designed specifically for robotics teams competing in FIRST or VEX competitions. Make sure to look under Educator Resources and select Curriculum to find this resource. 

The Onshape Learning Center

What Is Included?

Once you’re in and looking around, let’s familiarize ourselves with what we have included in each unit. 

Cad for Robotics curriculum breakdown

The Onshape Document

This curriculum largely lives inside Onshape Documents. We wanted to put the instructions right where the action happens. The first tab within any of the Onshape Documents will contain all instructions for completing the lessons. We recommend providing students with a secondary monitor or showing students how to split screens to make the most of the learning time. 

For some units, there are multiple Onshape Documents provided, one each for FTC, FRC, and VEX. This occurs when teaching concepts or incorporating models specific to one program. In the second unit, we capitalize on the existing parts libraries for each robotics program and also teach you how to use those libraries.

an Onshape Document with the curriculum

Unit Guide

We know that every team operates and provides training in their own unique way. For each unit, we created a unit guide as a tool for whoever is delivering that training, whether it is a mentor, teacher, or senior student. We set this up as a Google Doc so that you can copy and edit it with notes specific to your team. 

The unit guide consists of the following sections:

  • Learning Objectives: List of topics included in the unit.

  • Introduction: An overview of the lessons and activities included in the unit. 

  • Terms and Vocabulary: A list of CAD vocabulary words utilized in the unit with links to the Onshape help section on that term. 

  • Preparation: Recommended steps to set up for the lesson, such as getting access to the parts libraries and distributing the lesson document to the team. 

  • Onshape Documents: Links to the documents utilized in the lesson. 

  • Instruction Guide: Teams tend to be made up of individuals with various skill levels, so we provided ideas for how to introduce each unit to your beginner students, create more opportunities for learning for advanced students, and adapt the lesson for virtual learning. 

  • General Team Tips: We provide tips and suggestions for how to incorporate this lesson into your team’s workflow. 

  • Onshape Learning Center: Related resources on the Onshape learning center that your team can utilize to advance your learning. 

  • Other Resources: Additional resources, such as webinars, blogs, articles, and sites that you can use to further your learning. 

Onshape curriculum materials

Discussion and Feedback

To enable teams to discuss ideas and ask questions about incorporating the curriculum, we created a forum thread on the Onshape Forums to discuss this curriculum. This is a great place to go to interact with other instructors utilizing Onshape. 

While we did our best to create a curriculum that would meet the needs of teams, we recognize that there is always room to improve. As we iterate on this curriculum, we would love to incorporate your feedback and experience. We created a feedback form for you to share your feedback with our developers. Please feel free to submit often as you go through the course!

Other Suggested Resources

In addition to this robotics curriculum, there are other resources you may find helpful if you are interested in furthering your CAD knowledge. 

If you are an educator incorporating CAD elsewhere in your curriculum, you may find our other curriculum, Intro to CAD helpful. In the Educator Resources section of the Learning Center, we have also created shorter lessons, projects, and teacher tips. If you are looking for guidance on how to incorporate Onshape in the classroom, we have a self-paced course for educators called Classes & Assignments that explains how to make the most of the Onshape Educator Plan by discussing how to set up classes, assign and collect student work, and analyze how your students are doing.

If you are new to CAD and would like further support, our self-paced CAD Basics Learning Pathway is a great place to start. We also have standalone lessons in the educator resources section of the learning center, such as this Onshape Assembly Basics lesson, that can help students further develop specific skills. 

If you have been using CAD and would like to advance your skills, we have some advanced self-paced courses that may be worth going through. Some that may be most beneficial to your modeling for robotics are Master Model, Advanced Part Design, and Advanced Onshape Assemblies

For more ideas on incorporating Onshape with your team, we have created a couple of webinars specifically for teams:

The robotics community has also generated a number of videos, tutorials, and websites. One of our favorites is Onshape4FRC. We highly recommend searching for some of these resources to find even more ideas and guidance. 

If you’re not already utilizing Onshape for Education yet, don’t worry! Signing up is easy. Just click the link below to get started.

Get Started with Onshape Education

Onshape for education brings CAD out of the computer lab and into the modern era.