Next-Gen: Challenge Sparks Excitement in Engineering

Student Competition Profile: SolidProfessor Design Challenge

Student Competition Profile: SolidProfessor Design Challenge

This cat mask was created for 3D printing as part of the annual design challenge. Image courtesy of SolidProfessor.


For a few years, SolidProfessor has hosted a themed quarterly design challenge primarily for post-secondary school teachers to assign to students and professionals. This past fall (2019) they challenged student designers to create a Halloween accessory that could be 3D printed. Kelly Mantick is a marketing manager with SolidProfessor. We spoke to Mantick and Tony Glockler (CEO) to learn more about this competition. 

Digital Engineering: Can you provide an overview of the competition, how it came to be and the intent of the program? Who will be participating or who has participated? How many participants have you had or are you expecting? Any demographics on participants? 

Kelly Mantick: When we created these design challenges, we had a few different goals. 

First, we wanted to give teachers fun—and challenging—projects to assign to their students. As a company created by engineers, for engineers, we want to spark that love of engineering in the next generation. Solving fun design challenges and creating unique models is a great way to encourage students’ excitement and curiosity. Secondly, we hoped to rekindle that love of engineering design for current engineers. This competition gives them a chance to break out of their routine and put their creativity to the test, both of which are incredibly beneficial for keeping skillsets sharp and for avoiding burnout.

Finished cat mask created by students as part of the SolidProfessor Design Challenge. Image courtesy of SolidProfessor.

SolidProfessor CEO and Co-Founder Tony Glockler: It’s exciting to see students put their skills to work through real-world engineering design experiences. It gives students exposure to what it’s like working in a professional setting, and it takes the application of engineering and makes it fun. 

DE: Can you tell us about some of the designs that are part of the event and how they came to be?

Mantick: The first-place winner submitted a short explanation of her design: “My mask was inspired by the cats in ancient Egyptian iconography. My file was designed in three parts because it made it easier for me to print! I have included the CAD files, renders of the mask and the physical print as proof that it is printable. The printed mask lacks some of the detail of the final file due to the sandblasting process to remove the print lines.”

This was in response to our design prompt: “The country’s largest 3D printing company, 3Design Wizards, is hosting its annual Halloween bash, and this year, they want to go all out by 3D printing costume accessories that guests can pose with at their photo booth. 

“3Design Wizards has hired your company, Boss Engineering, to create the designs for the accessories they will 3D print. They’re looking for creative, Halloween-inspired models like a magic wand, werewolf claws, Jason mask, pirate hook, witch’s broom and the list goes on. The most important criteria: the accessory must be 3D printable and it must be faBOOlous!”

DE: Does SolidProfessor have a particular stance on adopting an innovation that is linked to the program? What drove them to sponsor the event and coordinate it? 

Mantick: Our design challenges focus on inspiring creativity and challenging engineers to design something that’s a little outside of their wheelhouse. This is a great time for entrants to test out new skills, features or tools that they don’t normally use to expand their experience and skillsets. Whether students or professionals, engineers often have very little room for error in their jobs, so these challenges are their opportunity to explore their design software and just have some fun! We sponsor these to keep that love of engineering alive for current and future professionals. And we enjoy seeing all the fabulous entries!

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Jim Romeo

Jim Romeo is a freelance writer based in Chesapeake, VA. Send e-mail about this article to [email protected].

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