Ultimaker Design Engine Challenge: Week 6

Ultimaker Design Engine Challenge: Week 6

  • Contributed by Lizabeth Arum and Matt Griffin
    Oct 9, 2017
  • Category:
    / Education

Welcome to the Ultimaker Design Engine Starter Pack—a card game created to provoke, inspire, and entertain students, educators, 3D designers, artists, and engineers of all experience levels. Specially created for the 2017 back to school season, this weekly series puts the power of design back into the hands of educators and their students.

From September 5th until October 31st, 2017, the North American community team will pose weekly challenges by drawing cards from the Design Engine Starter Pack, and we invite you to participate. If you submit at least four solutions, you will have the chance to win an Ultimaker 2 Extended+! (See the Challenge: Week 1 post for further challenge and prize details!)



Challenge card

Study this card to identify the design problem that your solution must solve.

Challenge card #1

"Pathfinder!" — Create a 3D map that captures your path to work or school, but the object must be small enough to fit in your pocket.

Parameter cards

The parameter cards transform the challenge by providing additional consideration to address in the design.

Parameter card #1


Parameter card #2


Modifier cards

Modifier cards introduce an additional twist by requiring a player to adjust a design or modeling strategy.

Modifier card #1

Shell — Hollow out a part of your design.

Gameplay cards

Gameplay cards tweak an element of gameplay. Sometimes to dramatic effect!

Gameplay card #1

Blind eye — Ignore one of your chosen parameters.

For further details how to participate in the weekly Ultimaker Design Engine Challenge series, refer to the Challenge details in the Challenge: Week 1 post.

Design Engine @ NYU Tandon Makerspace


Middle School Campers at NYU Tandon Makerspace - Group Discussion

The NYU Tandon Makerspace was one of the first places where we introduced the Design Engine project, where we had the opportunity to playtest with a room full of educators, a room full of design students, and then with a group of middle school tech camp students.


TEQ Curriculum Specialist Jessica presenting the design for the team


Middle School Campers at NYU Tandon Makerspace - Without A Shadow of a Doubt

One of the things we recognized immediately was the flexibility of the Design Engine to accommodate both crowds, one of our original key design goals for the card set to begin with.

But the more important data for us was obtained by following up with the educators and students themselves. The educators shared with us how they might actually use the Design Engine in their classrooms, and the creative and energetic middle school students provided us with a "real world" classroom full of wildly imaginative designs that fueled a full day of designing and printing.


Middle School Campers at NYU Tandon Makerspace - Its All in the Wrist

What educators want most from the Design Engine


NYU Tandon Eventspace - Brainstorming

While some teachers are working towards onboarding students for future access to desktop 3D printing technology, all teachers are looking for ways to engage students, to have them achieve specific learning outcomes, and to get them to think creatively.


Middle School Campers at NYU Tandon Makerspace - preparing to share

While downloading and printing keyfobs, whistles, and badges does a decent job of structuring an experience that instructs students on how the technology works, the "shop rules" they must follow for further lessons, and machine access, these "grab-and-print" projects fail to deliver on the potential of what 3D printing has to offer to the learning experience. Pick the wrong subject and the students — from grade school to grad school! — stop paying attention.

The Design Engine aims specifically to bring the spirit and energy of a creativity exercise to the designing of simple, sometimes silly, on-the-fly ideas and to replace the keyfobs, whistles, and badges with the seeds of ideas generated by the students themselves. What interests teachers might not always interest students. Educators know this and this is something that keeps them up at night — will the sequence of their lessons impart both the concepts and training to prepare these students for taking the technology to the next level? With the Design Engine, the students are driving the lesson forward, and as a result, care more about the activity and its outcomes.


Olivia, Jaedon at NYU Tandon Eventspace

For example, with a simple "Starter Round" scenario such as included in the first Weekly Challenge, educators ask students to come up with any object, and not worry about how 3D printing might be a means of prototyping or presenting their ideas. While the resulting objects and materials can range all over the map, often these new designs can kickstart a discussion about overhangs, thin features, etc. These discussions and strategies have more value to the participants than prepared examples, because these are problems that the students want to solve.

Additionally, because these projects can be so fresh and so raw, participants are often willing to experiment in order to solve the problems without worrying too much about how to manufacture the results. These are the projects that participants create along their way to gaining a sense of what is possible with desktop 3D printing — a design challenge truly matching the role that the technology plays in professional practice as well: they are learning how to explore digital design and sketch ideas in order to create physical objects.


The final design

Here is some feedback we have received from educators about their experiences:

I had my Computer Aided Design students do the Starter Round yesterday. I think the framework is great. Ambiguous enough to get them thinking outside the box, but constrained enough to develop a focus on their idea. The class had a ton of fun doing it, looking forward to getting my students playing the full game.

— Alex Larson

After playing the Ultimaker game and judging student presentations after they played, my mind was whirring with all the possibilities this game has to offer. From using it as a brain break to using it for a complete invention innovation project, the Ultimaker game gives teachers the tools to teach and reinforce STEAM on a daily basis.

— Jan Abernethy, Ultimaker Pioneer

My interest in Design Engine is …design itself. The Maker Ed programs I build for schools heavily emphasize human-centered design. Your 'mashup' approach is genius because collisions are how great design happens, AND you give REAL PURPOSE to 3D design, something sorely LACKING in many programs that include 3D printing technologies. I always tell people … you're not teaching "3D printing," you're teaching "3D design"—whole different mindset. And, when you connect design to empathy and meeting the needs of someone else—you've got a winning combination.

— Kevin Jarrett, Managing Principal, Firewalker Consulting

Jaedon at NYU Tandon Eventspace
Malachi a NYU Tandon Eventspace

Learn more about the Ultimaker Design Engine Challenge here.