IED Unit 9: Automata

Design, model, and build a dynamic automata machine


Mechanical engineers have the job of designing mechanical systems and machines. Throughout this course we have covered the individual skills that are needed to design a working machine, and in this unit we’ll put it all together.  Designing and building a functioning automata will require attention to some key details:

  • Parametric constraints & the design of cams
  • Modeling cams and their motion in Autodesk
  • Building the entire automata assembly in Autodesk
  • Building the entire automata assembly in the makerspace

By combining the design and modeling strategies we’ve covered in this course we can design, develop, and build a functioning automata. This unit will have three main parts:

  1. STEP 1: Learn about parametric constraints in Autodesk and how they can create more robust sketches and models.
  2. STEP 2: Follow the engineering design process to design and model a functioning automata in Autodesk.
  3. STEP 3: Turn your 3D model into a functioning machine in the makerspace.

When you’re done with this unit, you will have gone through the entire engineering design process to create a functioning machine.  The automata you’ll build can take on any form you’d like, and when it’s all finished you’ll have made your own machine!


(40 pts) About 3 days

Good mechanical engineers start with sketches and computer models.  In this second part, you’ll design your automata, sketch it in your engineering notebook, and then build the parts and assembly in Autodesk. This will be the most complicated part of the entire unit, and you’ll need to be particularly careful as you create your assembly!


(40 pts) About 3 days

Once the model works in the computer, you can print diagrams of the key components and start building!  You’ll take your plans and designs into the makerspace and assemble your automata.  Once it functions properly, you can paint or decorate it to look cool and represent what you want!

Part 1: Design & Model

Follow the engineering design process to design and create a 3D model of your automata
Automata Overview
Your next job is the most complex.  We now need to design our automata and make a 3D model in Autodesk. To start, we’ll brainstorm different automata solutions and do some brief research. Once you’ve chosen a final design, you’ll create a concept sketch in your engineering notebook.  Then you’ll work in Autodesk to create the different parts of the automata and complete the assembly.  When the assembly is fully constructed you’ll be able to see the machine move in the computer with the cams and following rods moving appropriately.


 Watch the overview of the Automata design challenge and take a page of notes

 Research and brainstorm possible automata, then create a concept sketch in your engineering notebook of what you want to build

 Build the parts for your automata in Autodesk and assemble them by following the Automata Assembly tutorial

 Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your documentation and Autodesk assembly

What’s Due In Part 2: Design & Model

  • Automata Notes
  • Documentation
  • Autodesk Parts & Assembly
  • Benshoof’s Check-off
Here’s what’s due in Part 2: Design & Model

  1.  Watch and take notes on the Automata Overview
  2.  Design and sketch your Automata plans in your engineering notebook
  3. Build the parts to your Automata and its assembly in Autodesk
  4. Benshoof’s check-off of your completed documentation and Autodesk assembly

PART 2: Build It!

Build your automata in the makerspace!
Automata Build Overview
The final part of our unit lets you take your designs and ideas into the makerspace to build your actual automata.  You’ll work to build a wooden box to house the mechanism, create the cams possibly with the 3D printer, and decorate the tops of the following rods to match your original designs.  This is where you get to put your designs into practice by building the real thing!


 Make a written plan for the materials and tools you want to use to build your automata

 Use the tools and materials available in the makerspace to build and decorate your automata!

 Complete the written Automata Reflection

 Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your Autodesk parts and final assembly.

What’s Due In Part 3: Build It!

  • Written Plan
  • Build It!
  • Automata Reflection
  • Mr. Benshoof’s Confirmation
Here’s what’s due in Part 3: Build It!

  1. Make a written plan for the build of your automata
  2. Build your automata in the makerspace!
  3.  Complete the written Automata Reflection in your engineering notebook
  4.  Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your final automata and reflection

Double Check: Unit Expectations

Check what you need to have completed by the unit deadline
The purpose of this unit is to have you work through the entire design process to use Autodesk to model the motion of a machine and then to build it.  The job of mechanical engineers is to take advantage of various simple machines to solve problems by making more complex machines.  In this unit you will have been able to use cams of different shapes and sizes to make your automata move in a specific way.  You also should have had the chance to use a variety of tools in the makerspace to build your automata.

Engineering Notebook:

(Part 1) You should have taken some good notes on the automata overview

(Part 2) You should have made a written plan for how you want to build your automata

 (Part 2) You should have completed your written automata reflection

Building & Making:

(Part 1) You should have sketched out your automata plans in your engineering notebook

(Part 1) You should have built the parts and assembly for your automata in Autodesk

 (Part 2) You should have built your actual automata!

Checkpoints & Quizzes:

(Part 1) Mr. Benshoof should have confirmed your documentation and Autodesk assembly

(Part 2) Mr. Benshoof should have confirmed your automata and reflection