Subtitle: A Partnership in Education and Fabrication Unleashes Student Creativity

In an inspiring fusion of education, design, and cutting-edge technology, the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing (CAWP) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) teamed up with Magee Secondary School’s Design + Fabrication Program to present students with a unique and challenging project: creating a functional chair from a single sheet of furniture-grade plywood. This collaboration not only showcases the potential of modern fabrication techniques but also serves as a significant learning experience for the young participants.

The project tasked students with designing and constructing a chair using just one sheet of plywood. The catch? Each chair had to be manufactured using a 3-axis CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine. This approach introduced students to the practical applications and immense capabilities of CNC technology, particularly in a nested-based CNC setting, where efficiency and precision are paramount.

Under the guidance of UBC CAWP’s technical staff, students were introduced to the basics of CNC machining, including the software and hardware involved. They learned about the design parameters necessary for CNC fabrication, such as material optimization, structural integrity, and aesthetic considerations. This comprehensive introduction was crucial in helping students understand the real-world applications of design and fabrication.

Three classes participated in this competition, with each class producing five unique chair designs. The journey from concept to creation was an eye-opener for many students. It began as many designers do, with a brainstorming sessions and a “napkin sketch” of their idea. Once the design was determined, the students used SketchUp to create a digital model. The CAWP team was brought in to critique and provide feedback based on design aesthetics, structural integrity, and manufacturability. Based on the feedback provided the groups modified and finalized their designs. One design from each class was voted on by the students for fabrication.

With the assistance of UBC CAWP’s technical staff and students in the Wood Products program, the Computer-Aided Design (CAD) drawings were converted into Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) digital files compatible with the CNC machine. The next stage involved the actual machining process. Students observed how the 3-axis CNC machine translated their digital designs into physical components with high precision. This hands-on experience was invaluable, allowing them to witness firsthand the capabilities of modern manufacturing technology.

The final products were a testament to the students’ creativity, determination, and newfound skills. Each chair, though unique in design, demonstrated a keen understanding of the Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA) process. The project culminated in a showcase where students presented their chairs, discussing the design process, challenges faced, and solutions developed.

For some students, this project was a pivotal moment in their educational journey, sparking a deeper interest in design, engineering, and technology. The collaboration also highlighted the importance of integrating practical, hands-on experiences in educational curricula to prepare students for future careers in various fields.

The partnership between UBC CAWP and Magee Secondary School’s Design + Fabrication Program is an example of how educational institutions can collaborate to enhance student learning and foster innovation. By bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application, this project has equipped students with essential skills and inspired a new generation of designers and fabricators.

As we look to the future, such collaborative efforts will be instrumental in nurturing talent and driving progress in design and technology.

Stay tuned for more updates on innovative educational projects and collaborations. For further information about UBC CAWP and its programs, visit UBC CAWP website.