Taking FIRST Tech Challenge Mechanical Meltdown to the Next Level

FIRST Tech Challenge is a Robotics Competition for middle school and high school students that goes far beyond building robots.  Students design, assemble, program and operate robots in an alliance format challenge.

Adult mentors teach engineering principles, project management skills and teamwork that they take from their own experiences.

I was fortunate to meet Ken Mansfield from Seneca Dairy Systems during a company meeting. Ken uses SOLIDWORKS and the 3DEXPERIENCE platform apps designing temperature control systems, gates, stall systems and lock-ups to keep cows happy in the dairy barn.

Ken is also a mentor for the FIRST Tech Challenge team, Mechanical Meltdown, Watkins Glen, NY,  and will be presenting at 3DEXPERIENCE World in Dallas, TX, February 11-14, 2024.


I got to interview Ken about his upcoming presentation that combines the project concepts of FIRST and the 3DEXPERIENCE platform by Dassault Systemes with his FTC team 12833 Mechanical Meltdown.

Ken shows how SOLIDWORKS product design software can be enhanced with cloud-apps to document brainstorming with the White Board app and See What You Mean (SWYM) Communities.  There is also SOLIDWORKS xDesign app  that is 100% cloud CAD.  Ken also teaches how CAD files can be stored locally or in cloud storage.

I was thrilled to see Mechanical Meltdown’s use of our Project Management apps.  With any FIRST robotics challenge, FRC, FTC, FLL, there is never enough time or resources.  With Project Management, students are assigned tasks and deadlines – so everyone knows when steps are complete or critical issues exists.

Ken also introduced Dashboards to his team. Thanks to our 3DEXPERIENCE Edu team and the Student Community, there is also a FIRST Dashboard that contains components from Andy Mark, Rev Robotics and other hardware manufactures.

Ken created a Dashboard for his team to use Tabs.  Tabs allow his students to quickly go between the apps he wants to share with the team.

Thank you Ken for mentoring Mechanical Meltdown and Sharing with the SOLIDWORKS Community.

We look forward to hearing from you at 3DEXPERIENCE World.

Mentors, you can get free SOLIDWORKS software for your FIRST team at www.solidworks.com/FIRST.

Anyone can join the 3DEXPERIENCE Student Community for free at go.3ds.com/studentcommunity, Login required.


Design well, Marie




Marie Planchard

Marie Planchard

Senior Director, Early Engagement, 3DEXPERIENCE Works at Dassault Systemes
Marie Planchard is an education and engineering advocate. As Senior Director of Education & Early Engagement, SOLIDWORKS, she is responsible for global development of content and social outreach for the 3DEXPERIENCE Works products across all levels of learning including educational institutions, Fab Labs, and entrepreneurship.
Marie Planchard