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Greenpower Car Challenge Resources: GEAR UP University

Jeannine Huenemann


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John Devitry-Smith
John Devitry’s GEAR UP University website is a free engineering design resource.
Credit: ASME

Many of you may be familiar with John Devitry. He is the creator of the GEAR UP University, a resource for students and teachers on Siemens Solid Edge Training, among other topics. Prior to this, he was connected with Utah State University as a research fellow at the Center of Space Engineering, worked in collaboration with the Space Dynamics Laboratory, and taught introductory mechanical aerospace engineering courses.

Last summer, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) wrote an article on John Devitry. Writer Jeff O’Heir said in “Creative Teaching Prepares Students for Engineering” that “more than 20,000 students in 136 countries have taken courses such as ‘Mechanism and Motion- Robotics Focus’ ‘Generative Modeling – Designer Based Structural Optimization,’ and ‘Siemens Solid Edge Training & Certification for Students.’ Based on the positive student results and teacher feedback, Devitry will continue to develop courses based on education and industry demands.”

Devitry saw a need to offer self-directed courses, and used his skills as an engineering instructor to create online resources where “each of his courses could be taught with few written instructions and minimum teacher intervention. He boiled the lessons down to their simplest forms. In fact, there’s hardly any reading or writing required. Almost everything is hands on. The students watch videos, refer to short tutorials, and are encouraged to collaborate and to help each other out. Students don’t even have to know 3D CAD before taking the course.

‘They just jump in and start using it,’ Devitry says. He based the courses on ‘Conceptual Design Blending (CDB),’ a proven method that sparks creativity in engineering students. CDB stems from Epstein’s Generativity Theory. Developed by American psychologist Robert Epstein in the early 1980s, it suggests that everyone has limitless creative potentials that cultural trends tend to suppress. New ideas, he believed, result from interconnections with old ones.”

GEAR UP University courses “are designed so that almost any educator can teach them. That’s important today, since so many school districts force educators to teach to the requirements of statewide standardized tests, which leaves very little room for creative teaching, Devitry says. The courses also make teaching STEM classes a lot easier. Quintin Nethercott teaches physics and computer science at American Preparatory Academy in West Valley, Utah. After seeing one of Devitry’s presentations on Gear Up University courses, he decided to start a 3D CAD modeling elective. It didn’t matter that he had hardly any experience teaching engineering-related courses.

‘If it wasn’t for John’s program, I wouldn’t have done this. The resources make it very easy to teach,’ [Nethercott] says. ‘The students were able to go through the video tutorials as a class or individually. That made it easier for me to assist students who might be stuck and let others go at their own pace. It made it easier for everyone to learn.’”

Many Utah schools do not have the personnel or resources to teach these sorts of courses. “Any school that wants to prepare their students for a higher education in engineering and creativity should look at GearupU,” says Devitry. “The idea is that any teacher can get the students started without any need to learn the 3D software.” The website is an excellent, free resource for designing Greenpower electric cars as well.

Information about the 2019 Greenpower Electric Car Challenge in Utah, including registration, rules, and regulations, can be found at our Race Day page.

Press: ASME Online Magazine