The 3D and software solutions provider, Autodesk, is expanding its global reach into education by offering free access to its professional design tools for students, instructors and academic institutions.
This free access is now available to more than 680 million students and educators from over 800,000 secondary and post-secondary schools in 188 countries. Cloud-based access to the software and free maintenance will now include Asia Pacific and Europe.
Autodesk’s US CEO Carl Bass said in an official statement that design-focused industries need to be able to leverage the next generation workforce that is design-savvy and fully familiar with 3D and other design management tools. The journey starts at the secondary or post-secondary school levels.
“The way we make things is changing rapidly,” Bass said. “We need a workforce ready to design for new manufacturing and construction techniques. By providing free professional design tools to students, faculty members and academic institutions around the world, we’re helping get industry ready for the next phase.”
A broader base of schools can now take advantage of the company’s professional software and services for wider use across classrooms, labs or at home.
Pushing boundaries of digital education
The latest offering follows an earlier initiative in the US that provided free software for academic institutions. This was in part to support President Barack Obama’s ConnectED initiative.
The educational tools will incorporate 3D design, engineering as well as entertainment software. The broader suite of products leverage cloud services including the A360 collaboration platform, as well as free maintenance subscription.
Digital education advocates note that young talent is pushing the boundaries of design and innovation both inside and outside of the classroom. Tech-savvy students are starting to use the same design software that is available to professionals.
Karen Kaun, the US founder for Makeosity, noted that students are using Fusion 360 to design an “Energy Scooter” that they can bring to market via programs like Kickstarter. The broader goal for classroom teachers is to incorporate learning-through-design into curriculum.
The focus is on design-enabled technologies that help students in problem-solving through simulation or show-and-tell, Kaun said. “They will see how math and science are springboards to careers as future innovators and entrepreneurs.”
Neelie Kroes, a former vice-president for the European Commission, added that closing the digital gap in education starts by offering schools with common access to the same advanced technology being used by industry professionals.
“Autodesk’s pledge to provide our schools, students and teachers with free access to its professional 3D design software will enable educators to introduce design thinking into our classrooms,” Kroes said.
Educationally-focused tools equip digital natives to solve real-world challenges in new and more creative ways. “We can prepare the next-generation workforce with the 21st century skills to meet industry demands and advance our economies,” added Kroes.
Among the Autodesk offerings, the Fusion 360 platform will enable students to conceptualise and leverage 3D design and collaboration capabilities. For example, teams can develop “environmentally sustainable” homes using BIM 360 Glue.
To facilitate the integration of design tools into school curricula, Autodesk will also offer free project-based learning content and resources including the Digital STEAM Workshop and Design Academy.
Follow Shahida Sweeney on Twitter: @ShahidaSweeney