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How to Make Simulation Training Engaging for Engineering Students and Professionals

How Can You Make Professional Training More Exciting?

The key to make training more engaging is to use experimental learning, team work and real-world problems.

Nothing puts a classroom to sleep faster than a 2-hour lecture. While this is technically a way to teach, it isn’t the most effective method.

So, are there better ways you can teach engineering or simulation software?

Currently, there are three education trends that are gaining popularity on campus.

These trends can also spice up a simulation or engineering training session.

1. Experiential learning.

Experiential learning is a broad term that includes hands-on teaching methods — think internships, studies abroad and lab work.

For engineering students, this is typically done in the form of capstone projects or competitive teams.

The idea is that the students learn engineering by designing and building something. These products and processes can include autonomous vehicles, race cars or even a production facility.

So, how can you apply this to your engineering or simulation training session? Make sure there is a hands-on element to the course. Allow the students to play with the user interface and have a real-world problem to solve.

2. Team work.

Projects, both in the classroom and the real world are now mostly done as a team. In fact, most of the experimental learning examples — such as capstone projects or student competitions — involve some type of team work.

Training courses are not generally seen as a social activity. You sit, you listen and you do your best to pay attention to the instructor.

However, when you have an activity people begin to interact. You not only improve the learning experience, you also transform your training session into a fun social or networking event.

3. Real world-based projects.

Corporations love hands-on training as it means they can save on bringing employees up to speed.

You might ask: “what type of hands-on problems should my training course focus on?”

More and more, students are tackling real-world challenges in their capstone and team projects.

For example, companies are partnering with universities on these capstone projects.

The partnering company shares its challenges with the students. The students are then tasked to solve these challenges as a capstone project. Often, these projects are supervised and judged by engineers from the partnering companies. The students working on the capstone project can also see this as a job opportunity.

Employers love this trend. It creates a group of engineers who are trained in the company’s development methods. Even if the partnering company doesn’t hire students from the capstone partnership, it still prepares these students for the real world.

As for the students in competitions, they are building everything from solar cars to Hyperloop pods. These competitions are generally sponsored by companies looking to grow the talent pool.

Now, getting a corporation to partner with your training course might be a tall order. However, there are no shortages of problems in the world. Using one as a theme, or dummy scenario, for your project is a great way to be current and exciting.

Additionally, by wrapping the simulation training in the theme of a real-world problem, you are teaching your trainees skills beyond the software.

How ANSYS Trains the Next Generation of Engineers

ANSYS and CADFEM make training sessions fun for budding engineers.

ANSYS has seen amazing simulation work done by competitive student teams. The most innovative teams use the full suite of ANSYS simulation tools to optimize their designs.

One way ANSYS supports these teams is with training. 

For instance, ANSYS and CADFEM have offered a 2-day training session to teams for 10 years.

Why is this learning event more than just a training?

First, it focuses on real applications the student teams are working on. Teams learn how to: 

  • Optimize the aerodynamics, drag and lift of their cars in ANSYS Fluent.
  • Optimize and integrate their car’s electric motor in ANSYS Maxwell and ANSYS Simplorer.
  • Assess the strength of their parts in ANSYS Mechanical.
  • Gain preliminary insights into design changes using ANSYS Discovery Live.

The teams do not learn simulation in abstract terms. Instead, they connect what they learn with their design challenges.

Next, the teams focus on collegial learning and the exchange of knowledge. In the 2-day event, student talk to each other and exchange tips on their designs and simulations. 

Though many of the teams are working on similar goals, many are competing in different leagues. As a result, there is no risk in sharing knowledge. This creates an atmosphere of innovation where all students benefit.

Finally, the event is fun. At the end of the first day students gather for a great BBQ, talk and laugh together. This is also a part of the learning experience. It helps students connect beyond the classroom and make friends who will become great engineering colleagues. 

About 110 Students took part in this training. They are now confident that they can improve their designs’ safety, strength-to-weight ratio, service life and aerodynamics. 

If these training sessions sound interesting to you, then learn more about how ANSYS can sponsor or help student teams.