'Three Peas in the Pod' Demo Engineering Design Skills

April 3, 2019

Wary of the wire cutter? Clueless about the drill press? These Duke Engineering First-Year Design students have you covered.

The Duke Engineering Design Pod is a 5,000-square-foot makerspace filled with all kinds of useful tools—foam cutters, bandsaws, sewing machines, laser cutters and more. Useful, that is, if you know how to use them.

For many of the freshmen enrolled in EGR 101, Duke Engineering’s First-Year Design course, the equipment in the Pod, the Foundry, the Pratt Student Shop, and other campus workshops can seem daunting. But to successfully complete the course’s build-intensive design challenges and projects, they have to get up to speed fast.

That’s where "Three Peas in the Pod" come in. Ashley Lanzas, Alexa Tannebaum and Rebecca Leggett, sophomores who participated in the course’s pilot last year, teamed up with EGR 101 instructors and Duke video producers Devon Henry and Stephen Toback to create a series of instructional videos aimed at making the equipment more accessible—and more fun.

The Peas demonstrate how to suit up before using the wire cutter.

In 11 videos, the trio—or, in some cases, duo—demonstrate everything from working with microcontrollers to woodworking, always with a focus on safety and encouraging fellow students.

“We ask EGR 101 students to learn a lot of new skills as part of the course, and if we can show them  people like themselves who mastered the tools and used them to make some cool projects, that can go a long way toward increasing their confidence,” said Sophia Santillan, assistant professor of the practice in mechanical engineering and materials science, who spearheaded the project. “Alexa, Ashley and Becca did a great job teaching other students how to use the tools, and the videos have been really well received.”

The Peas in the Pod videos are now required watching for first-year design students prior to using certain tools, and are also available to the public on Duke Engineering’s First-Year Design YouTube channel.

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Three Peas in the Pod
Video: Making quality videos

Using a sewing machine
Video: Sewing machine

Foam cutter
Video: Foam cutting

Working with PVC
Video: Working with PVC

Drill press
Video: Drill press

Dremel rotary tool
Video: Dremel rotary tool

Wooodworking
Video: Woodworking

Band saw
Video: Band saw

Power sander
Video: Power sander

Laser cutter
Video: Laser cutting

Arduino microcontroller
Video: Arduino microcontroller