Additive Manufacturing and CAD in Focus in MIT Professional Education Course: Instructors Tell Us About New Offerings


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Summer doesn’t always mean a break in educational offerings; while school may be out for the summer, through a new course offering at MIT, professionals can enter the classroom for a one-week intensive course focusing on 3D design for manufacturing. Advances in Computer-Aided Design for Manufacturing, the new course, is set to introduce participants to the capabilities that CAD brings to the manufacturing table. 3D technologies come into play as digital manufacturing is highlighted alongside virtual simulations, software-powered design, and the latest in additive manufacturing.

Taking place over five days in late June, enrollment is limited in this course targeted toward a range of professionals who could benefit from enhanced experience with CAD software. Applications are broad for what will be covered in the classes, and the only requirement is a laptop/tablet capable of running Onshape, which will be put to use throughout the lessons. We are also looking to Onshape in our own training courses to design for 3D printing. Onshape has been put to use in a variety of settings for 3D design, working with companies like i.materialise to broaden accessibility, and includes educational options that are free for educators and students.

“This course is designed for research scientists, engineers, developers, designers, and project managers in industries that interact with CAD software to fabricate physical objects,” the course description notes. “Relevant areas include the automotive industry, robotics, aerospace, defense, mechanical engineering, product design, computer graphics, shipbuilding, biomedical engineering, textiles, prosthetics manufacturing. Experience with specific CAD software is not needed.”

Wojciech Matusik

The lead instructors for the course certainly know what they’re talking about, as we’ve seen previously through research they have published with MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), from beetle-inspired electronics design to multi-material 3D printing. MIT professors Wojciech Matusik and Justin Solomon will head the efforts of the course, and will be joined on the final day by industry guest speakers who will share further “war stories” and on-the-ground experience with practical applications.

As the course is geared toward professional users across a variety of industries, we had A Few Questions For Matusik and Solomon to learn more about what professionals can expect to gain from the week-long course and why advanced manufacturing technologies are coming into play.

What was the inspiration behind developing this course, and who is it targeted toward?

“The manufacturing industry is undergoing a major transition. Beyond making many copies of the same object, modern manufacturing is becoming digital and on-demand. Product prototyping is becoming easier and easier (and faster and faster): better software tools and new manufacturing methods like additive manufacturing are revolutionizing the way we approach product design. Engineers and designers must stay up-to-date with these concepts to keep their company at the technological cutting edge.

We don’t assume those taking the course know how to use CAD or advanced manufacturing systems. We are hoping our class will include research scientists, engineers, developers, designers, and project managers in industries that interact with CAD software to make physical objects. Relevant areas include the automotive industry, robotics, aerospace, defense, mechanical engineering, product design, shipbuilding, biomedical engineering, and prosthetics manufacturing.”

Justin Solomon

Why did you select OnShape as the software focus for this course?

“We selected OnShape for a few reasons. Principally, OnShape runs directly in the web browser, so our students will be able to get up and running without installing software or worrying about compatibility issues. Beyond this, OnShape has uniquely well-developed collaborative tools, enabling us to group our students into teams for some of the activities during the week.”

How do you see knowledge of CAD/3D technologies benefiting professionals in a variety of fields today?

“The combination of modern CAD tools and additive manufacturing methods can greatly speed-up the R&D cycle. This can be applied quite universally to a variety of fields — automotive, defense, aerospace, consumer products, medical devices to name a few. These modern tools enable an easier collaboration, design optimization, and design verification. Furthermore, translating a design from a prototype to a product that can be manufactured at a scale becomes much easier. Another important benefit that we see emerging is the capability to customize each manufactured product.”

What are your goals for students in this class? What can they expect to take into the field with them after the week is over?

“We’ll start with the different types of representation of CAD models, how you communicate a shape to the CAD system, and how you digitally simulate a shape and object you want to manufacture without needing to produce it. We’ll also talk about how you can use the computer to generate or optimize an object for a task, physical or geometric constraints, how to work in partnership with computer as efficiently and well as possible. Speakers from area companies that make the technologies will address the class as well.

Attendees will become familiar with the entire CAD pipeline, from developing a concept to designing a three-dimensional surface or volume. This process also highlights the virtual simulations of various materials, numerical optimizations for automatic design, and taking into account the considerations when interfacing with manufacturing hardware.

Participants will have the chance to experiment with state-of-the-art CAD software through laboratory-style activities designed to exemplify common challenges when working with CAD software and to highlight potentially interesting components of the CAD pipeline.

At the end of the week, participants will walk-away with a better understanding of how CAD systems are built and how to use them effectively and knowledge of some of the latest digital manufacturing processes including additive manufacturing and 3D printing.”

How do the advanced design parameters possible in CAD and with additive manufacturing allow for new geometries of design as it applies in a practical manner for manufacturing?

“Additive manufacturing significantly increases the design space – there are very few constraints imposed on shapes being manufactured.

However, this design freedom requires a new set of tools in order to be used effectively. In our course, we will demonstrate tools such as topology optimization that automatically compute an optimal shape for a desired object that maximizes its performance. These tools are becoming more and more important as additive manufacturing is moving from rapid prototyping to real manufacturing.”

Where do you see the place of 3D printing in manufacturing in the next year? Five years?

“In the future, design and manufacturing will be collocated, putting designers close to the machinery and staff needed to make their visions into physical reality. This transition from outsourcing to internal manufacturing is facilitated by digitalization and automation, making manufacturing on-demand. The end result is a blurred line between product prototyping and manufacturing.

Professionals in the space will also face challenges, such as improving the iteration cycles for product design/manufacturing. Digital manufacturing (e.g., 3D printing) is becoming commonplace, and professionals will need to learn how to incorporate these new capabilities into their creative process. In addition, collaborative design will require organizations and professionals to re-think the manufacturing workflow.”

The five-day course has a fee of $4,750 and includes lectures, lab work, and a networking event including Boston-area CAD engineers in addition to students and faculty. You can learn more about the course here. Discuss in the MIT forum at

If you’re looking for other courses to study more about 3D design, remember that offers Beginner and Advanced training — our first Advanced courses are wrapping up this month, and the next series of our courses begins in June! Enrollment for these courses is $249, with discounts available for early enrollment and for groups of three or more.


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