Design software company, Autodesk has announced the availability of The Student Engineering and Design Community. A global initiative, this will enable students in architecture, construction, civil engineering, and mechanical engineering to have free* access to the professional tools they need to bring their ideas to life.

Available since early September, any student or faculty with a valid ‘education email address’ (“.edu”) is invited to participate in the community. More than 6,000 students at accredited universities worldwide have already signed up as test users of the site, which delivers free* downloads of Autodesk software products for architecture, industrial design, civil engineering and mechanical engineering. Soon the site will offer resources for students in art and animation fields of study.

In addition to professional software solutions, the site includes features that allow students to learn, collaborate and communicate with their peers on campuses around the world (see Annex A).

Meeting global design and engineering education challenges

The community site is the latest effort by Autodesk to support academic achievement and lifelong learning by helping educators and institutions provide their students with the software they need to prepare for careers in design and engineering.

Nurturing students in these fields is important, because of what Autodesk has observed is an overall shortage of candidates to fill engineering and technology jobs. Figures from the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee show enrolment in engineering and technology have decreased by 30 per cent in the last five years.

Basically, engineering and design education is no longer perceived as a preferred career option for many students. Contributing factors to this trend include the ascendance of more popular disciplines like media and finance. The fundamental issue however, revolves around students in secondary schools having a low exposure to design and engineering concepts.

Great response from faculty

University faculties are thrilled to be able to give students access to Autodesk software, knowing their graduates will be better prepared to enter the workforce and revolutionise design after using cutting edge technology in class work.

“Autodesk’s willingness to allow students to download and install Autodesk Revit, Autodesk Viz, and other software packages, plus its interoperability with much of the other 3D architectural and building science software has advanced the willingness of my students to push the boundaries of 3D and 4D in their everyday work”, Michael Donn, Senior lecturer Building Environmental Science, Victoria University of Wellington, School of Architecture says. “This offer by Autodesk to students and educators will increase the speed of transition of industry from a 2D to a 3D world.”

In addition to the Student Engineering and Design Community, Autodesk is helping educational institutions invest in the future by offering substantial discounts, innovative subscription offerings, grant programs, training, and curricula.

*Free products are subject to the terms and conditions of the end-user license agreement that accompanies download of the software.