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ASU, Autodesk prepare students for future careers with emerging technologies

Above: On October 2, Arizona State University signed a memorandum of understanding with Autodesk to help students learn how to design, engineer and fabricate products. From left to right: Steven Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts; Mary Hope McQuiston, vice president of education experiences at Autodesk; and Kyle Squires, dean of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Photographer: Marco-Alexis Chaira/ASU

Arizona State University has teamed up with Autodesk, the software provider for people who make things, to prepare students with the technological skills necessary to solve the world’s most challenging design and engineering problems. ASU is one of only eight universities in the nation that shares this level of collaboration with the company.  

ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts will receive free access to more than 70 Autodesk software titles and applications to support students, faculty, educational programs, research and various initiatives.  

“We’re committed to producing well-rounded engineers with diverse expertise and skill sets, and their preparation is bolstered by working closely with companies,” says Kyle Squires, dean of the Fulton Schools. “Our engagement with Autodesk will further broaden our engineers’ expertise by training them on current and emerging technologies and better preparing them for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Whether students are working on an architecture, engineering or construction project or planning for product development and manufacturing, they can take advantage of Autodesk’s full set of professional-grade tools. These tools help students learn how to design, engineer and fabricate many kinds of products.

“We want to ensure the next generation pursues the skills, experiences and education they need to design and make the world around us,” says Mary Hope McQuiston, vice president of education experiences at Autodesk.

Students and faculty will receive on-campus support for software use, curriculum development and implementation from an Autodesk program manager and student experts, as well as funding and opportunities to collaborate on strategically aligned projects and research initiatives. 

Reid Johnson, a faculty associate in The Design School at ASU and an education program manager at Autodesk, has been instrumental in incorporating the use of Autodesk software into coursework and other programs at the university over the past three years. The new collaboration will build on existing offerings and engage more students to prepare for the future.

“This is an exciting opportunity,” says Steven Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute. “Because of ASU’s scale and the diversity of our students, we have a chance to co-create, together with Autodesk, a technology that can be shaped by its users and can adapt to the changing needs of a changing population.”

Fulton Schools faculty have utilized Autodesk Fusion 360 — a cloud-based 3D software for computer-aided design, manufacturing and engineering — in workshops and introductory engineering courses to teach students the entire engineering design workflow, from modeling to manufacturing, with a single tool.

Students learned how to build 3D models, create photorealistic renderings, share models on the cloud and generate files ready for 3D printing.

Pushing the limits of what students could accomplish with the software, they also had the opportunity to apply their new skills to real-world problems. For instance, Fulton Schools Lecturer Haolin Zhu had students use the software to design a clean-water system for families living in impoverished conditions.

“This software puts a robust and powerful tool in the hands of students,” says Tirupalavanam Ganesh, assistant dean of engineering education and associate research professor in the Fulton Schools. “The tool encourages students to be creative and innovative with a design mindset.”

In line with their vision to help people imagine, design and make a better world, Autodesk will also support entrepreneurial venture programs in the Fulton Schools and the Herberger Institute, such as Devils Invent, a series of weekend-long engineering and design challenges, and InnovationSpace, a transdisciplinary education and research lab focused on product development in the emerging field of biomimicry.

At Devils Invent this year, one student team designed a capsule to hold and refrigerate medical supplies with specific handling requirements. The capsule was created by cutting wood pieces using models designed in Fusion 360 to develop a viable rural medication delivery system.

In addition to supporting innovative student ideas, the collaboration will open doors to more opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration between academic units at ASU.

Chad Kennedy, a lecturer in the technology entrepreneurship and management program housed jointly in the Fulton Schools and W.P. Carey School of Business, is piloting the first online delivery of a distributed design methodology course in the world.

“Moving forward, the opportunities for leveraging state-of-the-art, cloud-friendly technology and distributing the computational load can transform how global teams connect and collaborate,” says Kennedy. “Students and faculty at ASU get to be at the forefront of this evolution in design technology, giving them distinct job skill advantages and experience in the marketplace.”

The Del E. Webb School of Construction and The Design School will also collaborate on using Autodesk’s Building Information Modeling software to more efficiently plan, design, construct and manage buildings and infrastructure.

ASU’s innovation-minded students and graduates will be uniquely prepared to contribute at the intersection of design and engineering. Through this engagement, they will grow their skill sets, expand their research and professional opportunities and be well-qualified for careers of tomorrow.

About The Author

Amanda Stoneman

Amanda currently serves as a science writer in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. Prior to this role, she worked as a copywriter for five years in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and at G/O Digital (formerly GannettLocal). In 2013, Amanda earned a Bachelor of Arts in English (creative writing) at ASU. Now, she's pursuing a Master of Science in technical communication from the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts. Contact: anstonem@asu.edu | 480-727-5622 | Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Communications

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