Free Distance Learning Projects and Resources for High School Engineering Teachers


While some schools will be back in traditional classrooms next year, many schools across the country will continue to provide either full-time or part-time distance learning in the fall.

Since the pandemic began in the U.S. back in March, there has been a plethora of resource listicles for teachers and students.

However, since online engineering design education is what we’re all about at SolidProfessor, we compiled a list of free resources specifically for high school engineering teachers to use during distance learning (and beyond). Access to distance learning resources allows your engineering students to succeed, regardless of the classroom setting.

Engage your high school engineering students with hands-on projects at home

It can be tricky to come up with fun engineering projects for high school students to work on during distance learning so we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite free engineering design projects that require little to no materials.

Students can work on these projects on their own or virtually in groups. You can even turn the following projects into a design competition to keep your engineering students motivated.

Understanding the Engineering Design Process Hands-on Activity
In this hands-on activity, students will be asked to practice using each step in the engineering design process. A list of materials needed and worksheets are included.

  • Source: Teach Engineering
  • Grade level: 9-10
  • Materials needed: Index cards, scissors
  • CAD software required: No
DOWNLOAD FREE POSTER: From Ideation to Creation: The Product Design Life Cycle


3 Customizable Design Challenges for Students – Sunglasses, Halloween Costume Accessory, and a Sled
Encourage your students to develop a solution-focused mindset with three seasonal design challenges. Each project includes a prompt, ways to customize each project to make it simpler or more challenging, and a grading rubric.

  • Source: SolidProfessor
  • Grade level: 9-12
  • Materials needed: None
  • CAD software required: Yes. Any CAD software is compatible.

FIRST Robotics @ Home Activities
Explore FIRST Robotics’ hands-on activities that students can do at home. Their projects range from PreK to grade 12. Each project comes with a lesson plan, design brief, and a grading rubric.

  • Source: FIRST Robotics
  • Grade level: 9-12
  • Materials needed: Most projects don’t require any materials.
  • CAD software required: No, however using a CAD software is encouraged for increased difficulty on some projects.

Modeling a Toy Train in SketchUp
This free video tutorial helps walk students through how to build a 3D model of a toy train in SketchUp. SketchUp is a free 3D modeling software. This is a great engineering project for high school students.

  • Source: Teachers Pay Teachers
  • Grade level: 9-12
  • Materials needed: None
  • CAD software required: Yes, SketchUp.
FIND MORE PROJECTS: 100+ Fun Projects for Engineering Students of Any Age

Free engineering design software for distance learning

Though Autodesk and SOLIDWORKS are the most commonly used CAD software, there are other platforms you can use in your virtual classroom for free. Check out these free beginner software that can help engineering students gain more experience with design:

  • TinkerCAD: This is a beginner-level tool for students to quickly learn online modeling and 3D printing. Recommended for K-12, this platform allows students to create their own designs with a simple click and drag. Bonus: SolidProfessor offers a Meshmixer for kids course which teaches students through guided lessons on how to design with TinkerCAD.
  • SketchUp: Another beginner tool for learning geometric design, SketchUp works on Chromebooks and any internet-connected computer. Plus, it offers online tutorials and in-app lesson plans for students.
  • 3DC: Designed for grades 2-12, 3DC is an online modeling tool where students can create both simple and complex creations.

Help prepare your students for a software certification exam as a distance learning project

Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate (CSWA) Exam Prep Guide
This free e-guide includes 34 tips for your students from SOLIDWORKS certification holders. They’ll learn how to best prepare, practice, and pass the CSWA exam.

  • Source: SolidProfessor
  • Grade Level: 9-12 (best for mid- to advanced-level engineering learners)
  • Materials needed: None
  • CAD software required: There is no software required to get value from this e-guide; however, students will need access to SOLIDWORKS to properly prepare and take the exam.

SOLIDWORKS CSWA Certification Exam Practice Test
Help your students prepare for the CSWA exam with this practice test from SOLIDWORKS.

  • Source: SOLIDWORKS
  • Grade Level: 9-12 (best for mid- to advanced-level engineering learners)
  • Materials needed: None
  • CAD software required: Yes, SOLIDWORKS.

Certified SOLIDWORKS Professional (CSWP) Exam Prep Guide
This free e-guide includes 34 exam tips and tricks for your students who want to take the CSWP exam.

  • Source: SolidProfessor
  • Grade Level: 9-12 (best for advanced-level engineering learners)
  • Materials needed: None
  • CAD software required: There is no software required to get value from this e-guide; however, students will need access to SOLIDWORKS to properly prepare and take the exam.
GET CERTIFIED: With a SolidProfessor membership, you can help your students get certified from home by the end of the semester. Check out our online certification exam prep courses and practice tests for the SOLIDWORKS CSWAAutoCADInventor, and Revit User Certifications.

Your students can start designing in CAD software more effectively during distance learning with the help of keyboard shortcuts

SOLIDWORKS Keyboard Shortcuts Cheat Sheet
This free cheat sheet is chock-full of SOLIDWORKS keyboard shortcuts that will help your students design more efficiently. Plus, it includes a blank sheet so they can add their favorite shortcuts, too.

Autodesk Inventor Keyboard Shortcuts Cheat Sheet
With this free Autodesk Inventor Keyboard Shortcuts Cheat Sheet, your students will be able to use popular Inventor keyboard shortcuts to work faster and more efficiently. Plus, it includes a blank sheet so students can add their own shortcuts.

Autodesk AutoCAD Keyboard Shortcuts Guide
To design more efficiently in AutoCAD, share this PDF of Autodesk AutoCAD keyboard shortcuts with your students.

  • Source: Autodesk
  • Grade Level: 9-12
  • Materials needed: None

Autodesk Fusion 360 Keyboard Shortcuts
Explore this online list of Autodesk Fusion 360 keyboard shortcuts so that your students can commit time-saving commands to memory.

  • Source: Autodesk
  • Grade Level: 9-12
  • Materials needed: None
READY-TO-USE CURRICULUM: Bring Online Engineering Design Curriculum to Your K-12 School

Additional resources to help keep your engineering students engaged in the era of distance learning

Common Curriculum Lesson Planner
If you’re looking for a way to organize your engineering design lesson plans online, try Common Curriculum Basic for a free version of their platform.

Poll Everywhere – Real-time Class Polling System
Engage your students during class by asking them questions that they can respond to in real-time. K-12 educators can get this tool for free. The free version includes unlimited questions with up to 40 responders.

Microburst Learning EmployABILITY Soft Skills Online Course
Many high school engineering programs aim to prepare their students with the technical skills required for high-wage, in-demand careers after graduation. But soft skills matter, too. Share this free course with your students to make sure they’re ready for the job search.

If you need access to high-quality online engineering design courses, exercises, and quizzes, SolidProfessor is here to help.

Transitioning to online learning can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. At SolidProfessor, we’ve been educating the next generation of engineers, architects, and manufacturers through our online curriculum for nearly two decades.

Our expert-guided online courses and dedicated onboarding team are ready to help you confidently prepare your students for college and careers while teaching from a distance.

DOWNLOAD NOW: Essential Curriculum for Engineering Design Educators During Distance Learning

Madie Norris Forcier
About the Author

SolidProfessor content writer and self-appointed World’s Greatest Dog Mom