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Embedding ANSYS AIM into a STEM Education

In a high school classroom, we battle constantly against a storm of changing technologies, competing educational needs, time and materials. As technology advances and industries change, educators do their best to keep students competitive and prepared for these changes. It becomes increasingly difficult, though, to develop meaningful challenges for students because of the cost of materials and other resources.

At the same time, it is challenging to justify the time and importance of your content against other subjects in the school, such as math or science. With the power of ANSYS AIM and ANSYS SpaceClaim, the technology education classroom has been given an important tool to fight back against the storm.

As educators, we want to give our students challenging experiences that closely mimic real-world situations. Peters Township High School (PTHS), south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, recently received a generous donation of AIM and SpaceClaim to enhance our lessons and projects. With the integration of these amazing programs, we’re able to save time and resources. At the same time, students are getting hands-on training with industry-level software.

ansys aim student

ANSYS AIM and SpaceClaim were first introduced in an introductory technology education class at PTHS. Students are now using the programs to build and test designs of steel structure systems for an earthquake-resistant building. First, they evaluate both the minimum dead and live loads based on the steel and the design of the steel structure system. Second, they test the seismic load imposed on the building. In past years, students would produce drawings of their design and then build a scaled model to test on an earthquake simulation shake table. Due to the time it takes to complete the scaled model and cost of materials, it’s difficult to give students the opportunity to test, iterate on their design, and test again.

Because of the technical nature of these topics, it can be difficult to make sure students don't get discouraged or overwhelmed. At the same time, we focus on keeping the project challenging enough to be fun and rewarding. As students get hands-on time with the software, they realize that there can be many answers to a question in a design-based project. That is the value of using simulation software like AIM in the classroom because they can watch how and why their design succeeds or fails.

My colleagues, Fred Burns and David Walsh, and I chose this introductory class as the first step in our implementation plan for AIM and SpaceClaim into our classrooms because we wanted to get students interested early. This approach will hopefully result in helping students discover the multitude of careers and industries in need of people who can solve problems efficiently and effectively. That doesn't mean we expect all of our students to follow a career as an engineer. The skills students are learning with the addition of the ANSYS software is transferable and useful in other fields of study. Most of all, students are understanding the importance of learning from their mistakes. Interested students can get started with using the free version of ANSYS AIM Student product instantly. Enjoy!