© 2020 by Danielle Boyer.

  • Danielle Boyer, Founder

Materials & Reverse Engineering

We are back with another Engineering Design Club lesson! This time we collaborated with special guest Rob Maldonado. Rob came from New Jersey to help teach this session. He is a SOLIDWORKS expert, Mechanical Engineer, YouTuber, and technical writer. I am so thankful that he came to share his expertise with the kids. I first met him at the 2018 SOLIDWORKS User Advocacy Day in Boston when I was there to speak and he has helped me with my engineering educational pursuits ever since.

Robot CAD Example designed in the SOLIDWORKS App for Kids

Last session, we designed robots in the SOLIDWORKS App for Kids to 3D print (read about it here). A blog post with the kids reactions, their robots, and more about 3D printing will be available by Monday. They got to clean off their own supports and understand more about the printing process and it was awesome! The design goal was to CAD a robot based in either prior knowledge or what the student wanted a robot to look like. I printed them on my Sindoh 3DWOX 3D Printer. Stay tuned!


Why Reverse Engineering & Materials? Part of what makes reverse engineering such a powerful technique is not only learning how something works, but how to improve it. For that reason, we learned about materials and what makes them good in certain applications. Rob brought in his nylon 3D printed parts, molds, foam molded parts, different types of metals and plastics, and more to show the kids and explain how they work.


Students with the $7k Markforged Onyx Pro 3D Printer

Lesson objectives:

  1. Learn about materials and their applications.

  2. Learn about new technologies and see one in action (Markforged 3D Printer).

  3. Define reverse engineering as the process of disassembly and careful analysis with the goal of improving or duplicating a component or device.

  4. Demonstrate the reverse engineering process using a given component or device and suggest areas of improvement

  5. Improve public speaking skills via a presentation of findings.



We separated two groups of students into a 3D printing group and a materials group. For 30 minutes each, the groups learned about materials and 3D printing.


Learning about materials with Rob Maldonado

Reverse Engineering Activity

In teams of 4, the kids tackled a Thunder Tumbler car and controller by Sharper Images.


Lesson Breakdown:

  1. In teams of 4, get a Thunder Tumbler car, screwdrivers, and safety glasses.

  2. Draw what the car looks like before you take it apart.

  3. Rotate between everyone in your group to take apart the car and controller.

  4. Make sure to have safety glasses on if it is your turn.

  5. Keep all of the parts you find neatly organized.

  6. Sketch your results.

  7. Suggest an improvement for the car mechanically.

They presented on their findings to others, sketched their interpretations of the cars contents, and each got to take turns safely taking apart the cars. We had a great time learning more about electronics, materials, and overall engineering! A huge thank you to Rob Maldonado for coming and sharing his expertise! Check out his YouTube channel: Here. Or check out the video he did on my projects and educational robot: Here.


Stay tuned for our upcoming blog post on the kids final 3D prints that they received in class today.