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Solar Shade 3D Modeling
Project Background

My younger brother was a member of the same Boy Scout troop as I was. Around three years after I completed my own Eagle rank requirements, he organized his Eagle Project as a final step towards achieving the Eagle rank. His project involved procuring and installing a solar shade outside of our old elementary school. At the time, his knowledge of 3D modeling software was quite limited, so in order to aid in solving structural dimension problems and making design choices, I chose to model the multiple iterations of the solar shade as it would appear next to the school using the program Creo Parametric. I did this to help him to focus on the planning of the project rather than getting bogged down by math and learning to use a new software.

I was also interested in the challenge of modeling such a structure, though, and I wanted to know if my skill in using Creo was enough to model the shade closely to how the it would end up standing in the real world. In addition, with engineering material that I had recently acquired through my courses, I was excited to solve for dimensions and positions of the shade’s components to allow it to support the loads that we expected it to endure. If I got hung up, unable to model a component with a modeling tool that I had used in the past, I was confident that the process would force me to learn to use a new tool and improve my skill with the program.

This project introduced me to model annotations and taught me to make better use of datums, as well as forcing me to use the variable sweep tool to model the non-uniform shape of the ground with little effort. The model that I made ended up allowing us to figure out where the poles would land on the ground, how deep to dig the holes, and whether or not the pole locations met structural code. The project was ultimately completed on time, and the school uses the solar shade during the spring and summer. It was built to be removable to prevent students from climbing up the poles while the shade was down, and to prevent snow from collecting on it during the colder seasons. It always generates a good feeling to think about your part in making a positive impact on your home community; Eagle Projects tend to do just that.

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