Xavier Regan and his teacher, Chris Snell, go over one of his designs.

By Dave Warner

Xavier Regan is just a sophomore right now, becoming a junior when he returns in the fall, but he’s already achieved a certification that many adults would love to have.

OnShape is a professional-grade computer-aided design (CAD) software that allows efficient workflows to design parts, assemblies, drawings, sheet metal, frames, and more.

Chris Snell, his teacher, said, “This is a new cloud-based program that works like a traditional CAD program. It’s used by many industries now and becoming more popular because of that feature.”

He said there are companies that use it to design bicycles, cars, gaming consoles, and more.

“We decided to bring this program here and allow students to take it in order to take that certification test,” he stated.

There is a function called ‘teams’ where more than one person can work on a project.

Principal LeeAnn Dooley said, “One of the reasons we started this was when we visited a few industries in the area a few years back, we had them ask us if we were teaching CAD in the school. At that point, we weren’t. However, wherever we went, it continually came up.”

She said that before Chris came to work in the Little Falls City School District, that had been one of their hopes – to find someone who could eventually bring it back. “It was something that was taught years ago, but it was more paper-based. We really thought this was important.”

Dooley said that even welding companies had told her, ‘We have people that can weld, but they don’t have the CAD experience we need.’

She said that everything is electronic and computer-based now, so if you don’t have those skills, it will be tough to get a job.

Snell said that the course was offered through Engineering by Design (EBT) and ITEA.

One of the pieces of a robotic claw that Xavier Regan has created after it has been manufactured using the 3-D printers at the school.

One of the pieces of a robotic claw that Xavier Regan created after it was manufactured using the school’s 3-D printers.

Regan said, “I love ideas for things I want to build, so I was interested in this because it was an easy way to put my ideas into a more physical format. My dad also said I should take this course.”

“I want to go into a job in a field that uses this because there’s a lot of money to be made,” he said.

“I’d like to get more and more students, including our BOCES students, involved in this,” Dooley said. “This year was a learning experience for everybody because it was the first time we were offering it.”

“I don’t think they realize it will give them a step up on other individuals when they enter different fields,” she stated.

Snell said that they already have an early interest in the course for next year with the BOCES group.

“This applies to building and construction, welding, small machines, all forms of electrical and mechanical engineering,” Dooley remarked.

“You can run simulations before you even get to finish making whatever you’re designing,” Snell stated.

“Xavier designed a robotic claw that acts as a third hand to help with wiring and other things. So he’s used OnShape to design all the parts and test them together, then we have the 3-D printers here to make the parts,” Snell said.