MachineShop is a Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) system for children. Targeted at users 10 to 13 years old, it provides them with a tool for the creation of the mechanisms for use in mechanical automata. Specifically, MachineShop allows users to design cams, gears, and levers which are then fabricated using computer controlled machine tools, like carbon dioxide laser cutters.

Children at this age rarely have much experience working with tools or resistant materials. By simplifying the design process for complex mechanical components and automating their fabrication, MachineShop allows users to create more complex and precisely crafted mechanisms than they could normally. By allowing them to work at the level of their creativity rather than their skills with tools and materials, I'm looking at how the creation of automata affects their mechanical reasoning and spatial cognition.

Provided below are links to documents and web pages related to my MachineShop research.

A brief introduction to the research that will provide an overview of this work. This was created to introduce prospective users and their parents to what they would be doing.

A page of drawings, photos, and videos of some of the automata and mechanisms that have been built using MachineShop.

Links to pdf files of my dissertation can be found here.

I would like to thank everyone who has expressed an interest in the MachineShop program. Unfortunately, due to a number of issues, further development of the software was halted shortly after completion of the research, leaving the code base in an incompete state with finishing touches needed to make it ready for production still to be done. No version of the software is currently availble and it is unlikely that this will change. I apologize to all of you who would like to utilize MachineShop in your teaching or research and I appreciate your understanding.

This page last updated 06 December 2020