Fusion 360 Isn’t Just a CAD Tool, It’s Also an Education Platform

By on November 23rd, 2018 in Software

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 Autodesk’s Fusion 360 [Source: Autodesk]
Autodesk’s Fusion 360 [Source: Autodesk]

Fusion 360 has been garnering a lot of buzz recently for its ability to combine a number of design tools into one holistic platform.

From seamlessly modeling in both parametric and direct modes to computer-aided manufacturing (CAM tools), data management, additive manufacturing tools and even rendering engines that make market ready materials, Autodesk isn’t just hyping its product when it calls it a Product Innovation Platform.

Though the tools listed above seem numerous, they represent only a fraction of the capabilities the software has in its fold.

With all of its attributes, Fusion 360 is a robust design tool capable of helping any engineer, regardless of skill level or time in industry, realize their ideas. Perhaps maybe more important is that those same qualities make Fusion 360 an ideal platform for teaching budding engineers of all ages how computer-aided design (CAD) tools can be used to bring innovation to life.

Ease of Use Makes Education Robust

Mesa Inc. has been in the business of teaching CAD to students for over 25 years. As a reseller of Autodesk software for well over a generation, it has seen the industry transform radically and developed its curriculum to respond to the state of the art in the design field.

While Mesa’s client are typically corporate entities looking to onboard designers quickly, or get old hands trained on the latest version of a CAD package, it has recently started to reach out to students via ThinkEdu to help facilitate Fusion 360 training.

Steve Olson, Mesa manager of training services, has been working in the CAD training world for years. He recently worked with a team of students at Penn State that go by the name Digi Digits.

Digi Digits is a team of engineering students “dedicated to improving, designing and 3D printing prosthetic-like training devices for children who have hand/arm malformations or disabilities.”

Though most of the Digi Digits team had prior experience with CAD, the team lead wanted to standardize the modeling environment they were using. Fusion 360 looked like an ideal option. Once Olson got word of that news through his campus network, he offered to set the team up with an intensive tutorial of Fusion 360 via ThinkEdu.

“After a three-hour introduction to the software, the students were off and running with their designs,” Olson said.

This is both a credit to Mesa’s curriculum and the near lack of learning curve required to make Fusion 360 productive to a user’s end. In fact, Olson believes in the power of Fusion 360 as an educational tool.

“It’s a great software for education folks because it’s fun and easy to learn,” he said.

More than being fun and a great utility, Fusion 360 has made it possible for the Digi Digit’s team to meet its goal of building prosthetic training devices. During the course of the project life, the Penn State team was able to reduce the cost of outfitting a child with a functional prosthetic for $60, a price well below the usual $20,000 to 100,000 charged by medical device companies. With these new functional prosthetics, children can regain the function of their arm or hand. This gives them a renewed sense of agency and teaches them that good design can enhance well-being and life.

To prove that Digi Digit’s isn’t an outlier in its success with Fusion 360, Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT’s) graduate program in design also uses Fusion 360 to produce designs.

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