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Thanks from FRC Team 5900

I had never heard of OnShape until I got the coupon in our Kit of Parts last year for the FIRST Robotics competition (Steamworks).  I volunteer as the lead mentor for the team it I would deem it a Life Saver for enabling our kids to participate in CAD design even though we have access to other major CAD packages.  Here's why...

The school uses and teaches Solid Works; the kids have school issued Google Drive accounts; and the school labs have plenty of desktop PCs, yet in spite of all that we can't use SW and share files.  The kids have Google Drive accounts but since they are setup within the school system their files can't be shared with outsiders.  Since I and the other mentors are not part of the school system, we can't share files with their school accounts, so trying to use SW is pointless.  Plus the school PCs won't save files locally and its hit or miss if they will save to a thumb drive (not good for team collaboration).

The net result is that in-spite of all the technology at the school, its too cumbersome or there are too many roadblocks to use Soldiworks, Fusion, Inventor, etc.

Since OnShape is cloud based and web browser based it circumvents all those problems.  Team members can login off any PC (via a Guest access at the school), there's not messing with file saving or thumb drives, there's no messing with installation or software versions, anyone can jump on any PC and get to their stuff.  OnShape will even run on my ancient 2009 ACER Celeron netbook (albiet slowly)!!!  Try that with SW or Inventor.  I'd also note that out of all the CAD software I've messed with (SW, Fusion, Inventor, FreeCAD, OpenSCAD, TinkerCAD, etc) its probably the most intuitive and cleanest to teach and learn.

In short, I'd be lucky if I had 2 kids using CAD without OnShape, instead, with it we have ~14 kids at various levels trying to use it.

So I just wanted to say Thanks and let you know that your donation of free access for Education was paying off and is appreciated.

tks MH

Team 5900 - The Fighting Mongooses


  • noanoa Onshape Employees, Developers Posts: 141
    We have a few FRC alumni here at Onshape (myself included), and so we are very happy to hear this! Thanks for all of your help as a mentor!

    Team 1379
    Noa Flaherty / Customer Success / Onshape Inc.
  • justin_36justin_36 Member Posts: 16 EDU
    We use Onshape extensively in FRC, FTC, and all other advanced CAD contexts at our school. This is our 3rd season developing our FRC bot entirely in Onshape. Let us know if you need anything. Feel free to message me here in the forum.

    Co-lead mentor
    FRC 2090

    P.S. I went to high school in Fayette County.
  • justin_36justin_36 Member Posts: 16 EDU
    Also, wanted to add to here something I wrote up to post on a robotics forum, to summarize how we've benefited from Onshape. I know I'm preaching to the choir in this forum, but maybe it will be useful to someone who is new:
    This is the third season that FRC 2090 (Honolulu, HI) has used Onshape. This is my fourth year with the team. In the first one, Recycle Rush, I remember how we only had four students who knew Solidworks and we trying to use GrabCAD Workbench to manage the files.

    Fast forward to now and oh how things have changed. Of our 40 students, a good 15 of them play a significant role in CAD development and any of our students can get quickly on board. And actually, many of them not involved with CAD for FRC know Onshape from other contexts.

    Sure, you need internet connection to do you work, but aside from that, the listed advantages of Onshape make me never want to go back (I learned Solidworks in college). We have not had issues with many people working on the file at once. I also understand that Onshape is not free for the non-EDU folks who want to have private files, but since I am in an educational setting and don’t need my own side-private projects, that is fine for me.

    We have taught Onshape to nearly 500 students in Gr 7-12 since it became public. Only a small subset of these students are from our FRC team or our FTC teams.

    Onshape has many solid resources to bring people up to speed from other CAD systems. However, for our contexts, we are teaching students younger than they normally learn CAD (i.e. high school and college) and we only have a handful of hours with them to teach the basics. We found that our younger students have trouble following the traditional click-by-click tutorials that work better with an older audience who have more time to learn and also a better context of engineering. 

     We’ve come up with our own way of guiding them through the modelling journey, but haven’t quite documented it yet. If you’re interested, I’d love to share. To give you a taste, we start with a number of sketches that are each ready to Extrude, Revolve, Sweep, Loft. This Onshape Document is downloaded from the Public repository. Right away, they see how easily you can make 3D parts. Then we dive into Sketch tools (with pre-made Sketches that they need to fix), so on and so forth.

    Thanks to all the teams who’ve shared their resources. Hopefully in the off-season, we can share more of what we’ve done for training.

    Full-disclosure: one of the Onshape employees is a friend from college and I spoke with one of the founders shortly before they went public. They have not asked me to write this post. I would not speak with such admiration of the product if I did not believe in it and use it day-in and day-out.

    At the end of the day, software tools are only useful if you make good use of them. If your team is used to something and it works, then no point in changing. However, if you have frustrations with your current CAD program, I encourage you to give Onshape a try.
  • tyler_eglentyler_eglen Member Posts: 1 EDU
    @justin_36 Hey Justin,

    I'm a new coach who was told about Onshape last year, so I've started teaching my 7th/8th graders some introductory work in the software. You mentioned coming up with your own way, so I wanted to reach out and ask if you could share any best practices, examples, or what not on how you have achieved this. 
    I see a huge gap in those teams that do 3d model, and those that don't, and I'd like to use the software to getting my kids to think more intentionally about design. 

  • marten_hutchisonmarten_hutchison Member Posts: 15 PRO
    Look for small wins in the form of simple parts i.e. a pulley, hub adapter, light holder, etc, that gets them going on single part design and iteration which can easily be 3D printed.  Also, leverage the Andymark CAD files to build off of, its eye opening for them to create something familiar without know everything about CAD.  Then as their skill builds they can get into Assemblies and more organic / original design.

    Be patient, I'm going into my 3rd year and its taken this long to build a base of students that are willing to take the plunge and learn.
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