Custom USB Drive Design: STEAM PBL

Contributed by
Alexander Larson

Overview

Students will be designing a new housing for a USB flash drive. The focus can be on artistic design, fit and tolerance, snap fits, fastening, and any other number of areas depending on how you want to frame the problem.

I use this in my freshman level engineering course, but it can be easily adapted to many areas in the STEAM world.

At the start of this problem, students have already had experience within CAD software, your students experience at the start may vary and need modification to the planning.

Intent

The project can be approached from many different levels of the STEAM spectrum including a variety of age groups depending on scaffolding.  The purpose of the lesson is to get students into creating using digital manufacturing with a 3D printer. The use of this project has several added bonuses.

  • Small components

    • More printer options

  • Quick prototyping
  • Students leave with a mobile way to save and transfer files

    Some schools have poor IT Infrastructure and this helps alleviate some concerns.

Outcomes

  • The student will be able to clearly communicate their ideas to others.
  • The student will utilize digital design software to construct their concept.
  • The student will be able to identify design flaws.
  • The student will be able to take observed feedback and iterate their design.
  • The student will be able to work collaboratively with their peers.

Deliverables

  • Sketches and ideation through their design process
  • 3D model
  • Printed and assembled components

Materials/Equipment/Software

  • 3D printer
  • Slicer
  • Computer Lab
  • Autodesk Inventor
  • USB Drive

Standards

HS-ETS 1-2
Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.

HS-ETS 1-3
Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

HS-ETS 1-4
Use a computer simulation to model the impact of proposed solutions to a complex real-world problem with numerous criteria and constraints on interactions within and between systems relevant to the problem.

HS-PS 2-3
Apply scientific and engineering ideas to design, evaluate, and refine a device that minimizes the force on a macroscopic object during a collision.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSG.GMD.B.4
Visualize relationships between two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects.  Identify the shapes of two-dimensional cross-sections of three-dimensional objects, and identify three-dimensional objects generated by rotations of two-dimensional objects.

Objective

Develop a new USB housing that could be sold as a unique design in your school store, on Etsy, etc. The design could fit a theme or certain interest of a group. Example:
https://goo.gl/images/edBCwO

Planning/Lesson

  • Open with a discussion on products at the store. Personalized products and ways that they are sold today.

    • Etsy etc.

  • Introduce problem (~1 Day)

    • Framework: You will be developing a one off custom USB Flash Drive. The technology is for production in low quantities or custom parts is available now through 3D printing and you will be using this to produce a physical and functional model of your design.
    • Constraints:

      • Design must be approved for production by teacher
      • Must have either a retractable port end OR a cap to keep the device protected
      • Must be able to withstand daily wear and tear use
      • Unique design, no existing designs can match

  • Develop the Problem Statement (~1 Day)

    • Work with the students to create a uniform problem statement so they can have a clear picture of the problem at hand

      • Example Problem Statement:  We have to develop a unique 3D model that will be utilized as a housing for a USB Flash Drive. The housing must keep the flash drive protected and be durable enough for daily use.

  • Generating Concepts (1-2 Days)

    • Brainstorming/Research

      • You can take this a couple of ways I would recommend starting looking at prior art to give them some ideas and spark their thinking.

        • Given some time on this, I use the 6-3-5 Brainwriting Method for brainstorming

          • When doing this get them in groups of 6
          • When they start have the primary person draw out their main ideas and then the others as the paper is passed around can expand and build upon those concepts in unique ways

  • Develop a Solution (5-7 Days)

    • Evaluate the designs

      • Generate Decision Matrix and use the design requirements as the Criteria
      • Score the top 5 ideas you have with that

  • Modeling

    • Using the top scoring design from the Decision Matrix use CAD software to develop an accurate model for the design.
    • After the general model is made, subtract away internal space for USB to fit

  • Construct a Prototype (~3-5 Days may be more depending on how many students and how many 3D printers you have on hand)

    • Export the CAD file as an STL
    • Import the STL files into the slicing software

      • Let students go through slices and identify potential areas of concern for durability or functional issues

    • Iterate on the design if needed
    • After students have processed the STL and prepared the print

      • Print the models and have the students assemble their designs

  • Evaluate the Design (1 Day)

    • Have students show off their work to their peers

      • Recommend a short and quick design review

        • Have all designs out on the desks and give each student a few post-it notes. They can then walk around and leave design reviews for each one for student feedback

  • Present Results (1 Day)

    • Students give a brief 1-2 minute talk about their design, what inspired them, what ideas they took from the brainstorming, challenges they encountered and how they overcame them, focusing on “Lessons Learned and Moving Forward”

Assessment

Defining Problems
5 (Exemplary)4 (Proficient)3 (Approaching)2 (Needs Improvement)0 (Lack of Evidence)
Defining the Problem Statement, Criteria, and Constraints

Problem statement is clearly and concisely defined.

All criteria and constraints are addressed and thoroughly explained.

Problem statement is clearly defined and includes all necessary information.

All criteria and constraints are addressed.

N/A

Problem not clearly defined and/or not all criteria and constraints are addressed.

Missing or lack of evidence.
Identifying Sub-Problems

Problem was clearly broken down into sub-problems that needed to be addressed.

All sub-problems were explained/justified.

Design proceeded with consideration of each sub-problems.

Problem was clearly broken down into sub-problems that needed to be addressed.

Design proceeded with consideration of each.

Problem was broken down into sub-problems that should have been addressed.

Design proceeded with some consideration to some of the sub-problems.

Sub-problems were acknowledged to some degree.

Consideration was not given to these sub-problems in the design.

Missing or lack of evidence.
Ask Questions Based on Collected Data or ResearchFormulates relevant questions based on given information.

Addresses unreasonable data.

Identifies potential future related projects or investigations
Formulates relevant questions based on given information.

Addresses unreasonable data.
Formulates questions about given information, but they may be irrelevant.

Addresses some unreasonable data.
Does not formulate questions based on given information.

Acknowledges unreasonable data, but does not address it.

Missing or lack of evidence.
 
Designing Solutions
5 (Exemplary)4 (Proficient)3 (Approaching)2 (Needs Improvement)0 (Lack of Evidence)
Concept GenerationOutstanding concepts.The function of each is clearly explained.

Each is properly communicated, including labels and descriptions.

Explanations address how the designs meets criteria and constraints.
Expected number of ideas documented in detail.

Each is properly communicated, including labels and descriptions.

Explanations address how the designs meets criteria and constraints.
Expected number of ideas documented in insufficient detail.

Each is marginally communicated, including labels and descriptions.

Explanations only somewhat address how the designs meets criteria and constraints.
Expected number of ideas are not presented. Ideas are not documented well-enough to be understood.

Lacks description. Many missing annotations, some mislabeled.

Explanations do not address how the designs meets criteria and constraints.
Only one concept (or no concepts) documented.

Sketch is not accompanied by a description or annotations.

Does not address how design(s) meet criteria and constraints.
Meeting Criteria/ConstraintsThe project worked and all the criteria and constraints were met

All the criteria and constraints were met.

The project could have worked.
Most criteria and constraints were met.

The project could have worked.
Few criteria and constraints were met.

The project could have worked.
Overt disregard for criteria and constraints.

Project could not have worked.
Turning Concept into a Functional Model

Effectively implements the design process to create a unified product which is a direct result of the initial chosen design.Final working product was a direct result of the initial concept and thoughtful modifications.Final product strayed from initial design or followed closely but did not work.Final product is unrecognizable as original design.Missing or lack of evidence.
Developing Prototypes
5 (Exemplary)4 (Proficient)3 (Approaching)2 (Needs Improvement)0 (Lack of Evidence)
Concept Selection and Justification

Effectively demonstrates important considerations/ criteria.

Explains the justification for the selected solution.

Clearly communicates the final solution selection process.

Effectively demonstrates important considerations/ criteria.

Explains the justification for the selected solution.

Demonstrates some important considerations/ criteria.

Somewhat justifies selected solution.

Is missing multiple key elements that should have been considered for selecting a final solution.

Justification for the selected solution lacks detail or is missing.

Is missing elements that should have been considered for selecting a final solution.

Does not justify the selected solution.
Evaluate Prototype/Model to Identify Opportunities for Improvement

Documented evaluation of design clearly explains shortcomings of design.

Evaluation led to identification of multiple opportunities to improve design based on testing, mathematical concepts, or unexpected constraints.

Identified multiple opportunities to improve design based on testing, mathematical concepts, or unexpected constraints.

Identified at least one opportunity to improve design based on testing, mathematical concepts, or unexpected constraints.

Identified at least one opportunity to improve design. No evidence that this was based on testing, mathematical concepts, or unexpected constraints.Missing or lack of evidence.
Modification / Troubleshooting Follow-throughAll changes made to the original design are clearly and concisely communicated through sketches and explanations.

Sketches include labels, signatures, and dates.

All modifications were clearly justified and completed.
All changes made to the original design are clearly communicated through sketches and explanations.

Sketches include labels, signatures, and dates.

All modifications were justified and completed.

Changes made to the original design are communicated through sketches and explanations.

Sketches include some annotation.

All modifications were somewhat justified and completed.

Some changes made to the original design are communicated through sketches and/or explanations.

Sketches lack detail.

Modifications were not justified.

Missing or lack of evidence.
Synthesizing Information
5 (Exemplary)4 (Proficient)3 (Approaching)2 (Needs Improvement)0 (Lack of Evidence)
Communication of Information Through Documentation and/or PresentationSuperbly articulates ideas in a clear and concise manner.

Document is superbly formatted and organized.

Few or no grammar mistakes.

Scientific/technical language is used appropriately and intelligently.
Clearly and concisely communicates ideas.

Document is organized, but could look more professional.

Few grammar mistakes present, but they do not interfere with readability.

Some scientific / technical language is used appropriately.

Somewhat clearly communicates ideas.

Document formatting and/or organization is not professional, but document is still easy to follow.

Several grammar mistakes present, but they do not interfere with readability.
Communication of ideas lacks clarity.

Document formatting and/or organization is not professional, making the document difficult to follow.

Several grammar mistakes present that interfere with readability.

Does not sufficiently communicate ideas.

Document has little to no organization or formatting.

Numerous grammar mistakes present that interfere with readability.
Concepts Clearly Communicated Through Annotated Visual RepresentationsAll visuals clearly represent concepts and are thoroughly annotated.

Visuals could stand on their own as a representation of concept.

All visuals represent concepts and are clearly annotated as necessary.

Visuals add to presentation of concept.

Visuals represent concepts and include minimal annotation.

Visuals add to presentation of concept.
Visuals represent concepts, but are not annotated to clearly communicate idea.

Visuals do not significantly add to presentation of concept.

Missing or lack of evidence.

Index
Support