With the continuous progress of science and technology and the rapid development of society, more and more countries have realized that the important factor to measure the comprehensive national power of a country is whether it has the ability to innovate and master the core technology, and “scientific and technological innovation” has become the most favorable weapon for countries to seize the high ground of the industry.
It is easy to find that in recent years, the state and the government have been encouraging innovation and have formulated a series of relevant policies to stimulate “national entrepreneurship and innovation”, expecting more high-end innovative talents to strengthen the capacity of independent innovation and enhance the comprehensive national power.
With the continuous development of modern higher education, the cultivation of innovative thinking and creative ability has also received more and more attention from universities. Universities have realized that under the current complex international environment, how to cultivate college students to become high-quality comprehensive talents with innovative consciousness and innovative thinking, practical ability and creative ability in the new era is a severe test in front of all universities with challenges.
”It is a course that emphasizes practical hands-on ability and innovation ability, and its prerequisite courses include: mechanical principles, mechanical design theory and methods, mechanical manufacturing process, theoretical mechanics and material mechanics. Theoretical Mechanics and Mechanics of Materials, etc.
This course introduces the general principles and methods of innovative mechanical design through the introduction of practical applications of mechanical design in the engineering field. Through the study of this course, students can master the basic principles and realization methods of mechanical innovative design and have the initial mechanical innovative thinking and awareness. On the basis of continuous analysis of actual mechanical engineering cases, students are trained to independently find out the problems of existing designs, analyze the causes of the problems, whether there is room for optimization, and be able to propose improvement plans.
In this way, students are stimulated to make full use of their knowledge of mechanical principles and mechanical design, and give full play to their innovative thinking to carry out partial improvement designs or new creative designs, ultimately achieving the teaching purpose of stimulating students’ creative potential and enthusiasm and improving their innovative ability.
1 “Mechanical Design Practice” course in the classroom teaching problems and analysis
In the process of teaching the electromechanical skill classes in our school, I found that although students showed some interest in mechanical innovation design and listened to the practical application cases with great interest, they still did not perform well when they really needed to design some mechanical structures or improve the existing mechanical structures. Through their own continuous summary, they analyzed some problems in classroom teaching, which are summarized as follows.
1.1 Teaching content and teaching form are relatively single, and students lack enthusiasm for learning
From the content of the lecture, “mechanical design practice” is still based on the framework of mechanical principles and mechanical design basic knowledge, and then do some design methods to increase, although also combined with a certain number of engineering examples, but the focus of the lecture is still partial to the mechanical principles part, and can not well inspire the students’ innovative thinking. And students have already learned the mechanical principles and mechanical design, so the enthusiasm of learning this course is not high. 
From the viewpoint of lecture format, “Mechanical Design Practice” is still based on the teacher’s conventional narration combined with PPT, and there is little interactive teaching with students, while the teaching purpose of this course is to inspire students to stimulate their creative thinking through the teacher, which requires active interaction between teachers and students to ensure the teaching effect. The traditional teaching format is difficult to stimulate students’ enthusiasm for learning.
1.2 Students lack creative consciousness and innovative thinking
Take the electromechanical skill class led by the author as an example, the basic theories such as mechanical principle, mechanical design and mechanical drawing have been learned, but in general, students still do not have enough mastery of the basic knowledge points related to mechanical innovative design, which is the basic condition for mechanical innovative design. The reasons for this include: the school has compressed the class time, the lack of student learning initiative, and the lack of engineering practical training sessions to apply theoretical knowledge to mechanical design. The result is: students tend to learn in order to cope with the examination, without really integrating the basic theory, and rarely open their own innovative consciousness, not to mention trying to carry out mechanical innovation design.
1.3 Easily limited to the application of three-dimensional software for virtual modeling simulation, lack of ability to design real product prototypes
In recent years, the CAD/CAM software applied to the mechanical engineering industry is more and more powerful, especially a variety of three-dimensional software is widely used, including: Solidworks, Inventor, Pro/E, UG. students basically in the second year will learn the use of these software, and can draw a cool three-dimensional model and beautiful simulation animation video.
The 3D software can indeed help students to better express their design ideas, give better play to their spatial imagination, make design work more efficient and interesting, and make the structure of the design more intuitive and easier to discuss or modify. But at the same time, the author also noticed that many students focus on learning the skills of using three-dimensional software, while ignoring the basic knowledge points involved in mechanical structure. Simply put, when students use 3D software to design specific mechanical structures, they can only draw a beautiful 3D model, but are not good at or simply will not draw the more specific details of the mechanism. Such a three-dimensional model is only a false appearance, but no substantial mechanical structure. In other words, it is impossible to make the actual prototype.
Therefore, the essence of the real mechanical innovation design or the design of the machinery itself, the mastery and application of the basic structural principles. And all kinds of 3D design software is only a tool and a means to assist the design, through which the actual product prototype can be made faster and better. When cultivating students’ innovative design ability, the principle of giving equal importance to software modeling and real product prototypes must be adhered to.
1.4 Lack of exercise in real projects and complete and systematic experience in product development
The significance of participating in the exercise of actual product development projects is that students learn from them the whole process of actual product design and master the knowledge involved in the whole process of a product from design to processing, which can cultivate students’ ability to grasp professional knowledge comprehensively and improve their innovative design ability in essence.
However, in practice, most students still focus on theoretical learning, without touching the essence of design learning, and often only have a glance at the practical sessions arranged by the school, without having the opportunity to experience the design process. In the absence of practical project design experience, it is only natural that students’ theoretical knowledge cannot be given full play. In the long run, this will seriously restrict the development of students’ creative ability and innovative consciousness.
2 The introduction of project-based teaching mode in the “mechanical design practice” course
The “project-based teaching method” is a practical teaching activity through the completion of a complete “project”, which is a mode of training talents for the direct purpose of cultivating practical talents for the society. Its purpose is to combine theory and practice in classroom teaching, to fully explore the creative potential of students, and to improve their comprehensive ability to solve practical problems.
Project-based teaching “project-based, teacher-led, student-led” changes the passive teaching mode of “teacher speaks, student listens” and creates a new teaching mode of active participation, independent collaboration, and exploration and innovation for students, which cultivates practical talents for society. It is a mode of training talents for the direct purpose of cultivating practical talents for the society.
The objectives of project-based teaching reform are: to combine mechanical design ideas, 3D software design and practical design projects, to combine theoretical knowledge with practice, and to improve students’ interest and enthusiasm in learning; to improve the learning tasks and determine teaching projects through the research and practice of project-based teaching; to realize the cultivation goal of applied undergraduate professionals
2.1 Teaching content design and teaching process design
In order to meet the cultivation target of applied talents in our university, the original teaching content is adjusted, combining theoretical knowledge with projects, using projects to combine practice and theoretical knowledge organically, and students apply the theoretical knowledge learned to practical tasks and solve practical problems by completing projects.
The “Mechanical Design Practice” course mainly combines mechanical design ideas, 3D software design and actual design projects. In the whole learning process, we choose suitable design topics to link all the knowledge points, and integrate mechanical innovation design to improve students’ mechanical design ability and comprehensive ability.
(1) Teaching stage. When teaching “mechanical design practice” to the electromechanical skills class, the author boldly tries the flipped classroom teaching method in response to the characteristics of students’ poor basic level but strong hands-on ability. Students were encouraged to discuss the project content in groups according to the discipline competition defense model. The students were given the task of designing a real project with the real items of previous competitions, using everyday objects as raw materials, and making a real prototype of the real project, and allowing them to score the real work of other groups as judges. This method of teaching greatly stimulated students’ creativity and motivation, and was well received by them.
In the future, we can reasonably integrate more real problems of discipline competitions into the “Mechanical Design Practice” course, and bring the real works of students’ graduation design (such as bionic mechanical birds and pneumatic transport robots) to the classroom as teaching aids, so that students not only learn the basic theories, but also learn how to apply them in practice. Students learn not only the basic theories, but also how to apply them in practice, and really master the essence of design.
(2) Independent exploration stage. The teacher assigns a practical project for students to explore independently. Based on the students’ understanding of the project tasks, the teacher can design various types of practical project tasks for students to think and complete independently.
(3) Practical Exercise Stage. In the teaching and learning implementation process, in line with the idea that students are in the main position in teaching, changing passive learning to active learning. Students independently complete the project just laid out, and complete the project of three-dimensional design modeling and engineering drawing generation. Students learn by doing, learn by doing, practice by doing”, learn knowledge and train skills in the process of practical exercises. Teachers timely help solve all kinds of problems in the project teaching groups to ensure the successful completion of the project of each group.
(4) Learning evaluation. Evaluate students’ learning performance by the completion of the actual project. First, the teacher teaches students to complete a project, then students complete a project independently, and when the project is done, all the knowledge points are finished. In the whole teaching, we adopt the integrated method of “teaching, learning and doing”, so that students can learn and improve their ability in the project.
Optimize the teaching plan and teaching design of mechanical design practice, abandon the original traditional teaching mode, adopt project-based teaching to make students combine mechanical design ideas, 3D design software and actual design projects, and encourage students to complete a project independently to improve students’ learning enthusiasm and learning effect; at the same time, make students’ theoretical knowledge and practice well combined, so that students’ comprehensive ability can be well improved At the same time, students’ theoretical knowledge and practice are well integrated, so that students’ comprehensive ability can be well improved.