Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a revolutionary technology in the manufacturing sector, although it has yet to become a cornerstone of formal engineering education. This paper discusses the procedure, result, and impact of incorporating physical prototyping, design iteration, and Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) in a first-year, first-semester technical drawing and CAD course. In the course, students design balloon powered model car assemblies and are expected to learn core concepts of engineering design, such as modeling, assemblies, and tolerancing. The course consists of 473 students that each design up to two unique model cars. These model cars are fabricated using AM from these CAD designs and returned to students for assembly. Surveys are given to students to empirically validate the usefulness of incorporating AM in the course, with regards to motivating students and improving their ability to accurately translate imagined designs from CAD to physical products. The results show improvement in student intrinsic motivation concerning CAD processes. Student design abilities are also assessed: when student designs do not function as intended, it corresponds with a greater mismatch in how they imagine their CAD design in comparison to its final physical assembly. The mismatch on average decreases for students who design a second model car, which suggests an improvement in design skills. As a whole, our findings demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of including AM in a first-year course, particularly with respect to improving student motivation and their development of key CAD-related skills. Such motivation and skill development is particularly important early in an engineer’s career as it can impact their potential to learn and design over the course of their budding career.

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