Dassault Systèmes makes a frequent appearance in 3D printing headlines. As the company behind SOLIDWORKS and the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, Dassault has a presence in just about every industry relating at all to 3D technology. We had the privilege of visiting the company’s brand new 3DEXPERIENCE Center at Wichita State University a couple of weeks ago, so we’ve seen firsthand Dassault’s commitment to providing opportunities for training and growth in 3D and other advanced engineering and manufacturing technologies.

In fact, Dassault Systèmes has an entire foundation dedicated to educating students and the workforce in 3D design. La Fondation, or The Foundation, provides academic and research institutions with experiential learning applications in 3D and virtual technology, and this week the US branch of the Foundation teamed up with STEM-focused workforce development organization Base 11 to facilitate a new initiative aimed at training the next generation of workers in high-demand engineering skills, particularly 3D design.

The nonprofit Base 11 partners with organizations in industry, academia and philanthropy to provide young people, particularly those of low income, with hands-on training in STEM fields in hopes of building a strong middle class and solving the current scarcity of skilled technical workers in the country. The organization establishes Innovation Centers centered on project-based learning and STEM-focused entrepreneurship training, with the goal of helping students into four-year STEM-related degrees and careers.

“We are thrilled by the grant from The Dassault Systèmes U.S. Foundation as it will accelerate our ability to empower our academic partners with the tools and resources they need to transform high-potential, low-resource students into 21st century STEM leaders,” said Landon Taylor, CEO of Base 11.

[Image: Base 11]

With the grant, Base 11 will launch a new training initiative that will be piloted this summer at the University of California Irvine’s Samueli School of Engineering. Community college students participating in the Base 11 Summer Fellowship Program, the Autonomous Systems Engineering Academy, will be the first to learn how to work with collaborative 3D design platforms like 3DEXPERIENCE.

“This workforce development initiative by Base 11 speaks to the huge demand for trained talent that we’re hearing from employers,” said Al Bunshaft, President, The Dassault Systèmes U.S. Foundation. “We are excited to support this innovative initiative that aims to create new educational content with the learning and discovery capabilities of 3D technology and virtual universes. This will offer a solution for employers, while simultaneously changing the lives of underserved students and their communities.”

The Autonomous Systems Engineering Academy was based on a successful freshman engineering course at the Samueli School, which featured hands-on, project-based learning. Base 11 adapted the course into an eight-week summer residency program for community college students in 2015. Students participating in the academy learn through hands-on projects in CAD, 3D printing, aerospace design, electronics and other fabrication techniques. They complete a series of mini projects leading up to a capstone project culminating in a fully operational drone. Thanks to the grant from the US Foundation, the students will design their drone using the same 3D design platforms used by engineers at major corporations.

Students at the 2016 Autonomous Systems Engineering Academy

In January 2018, the initiative will expand into a full yearlong college course at three community colleges: Orange Coast College, Skyline College and South Mountain Community College. Additional schools may be added the following year.

“The partnership with Base 11 and the financial support of The Dassault Systèmes U.S. Foundation is helping us expand our reach into community colleges and high schools, advancing our mission to prepare future engineers for matriculation at UCI and on to successful STEM-based careers,” said Gregory Washington, Stacey Nicholas dean of engineering, Samueli School.

Initiatives like this one solve multiple issues at once, by giving young people opportunities they might not have otherwise while at the same time training a workforce that is desperately needed to keep up as manufacturing technology advances. It’s encouraging to see large corporations like Dassault invest their resources in programs like this one, which will hopefully grow and even become nationwide before long. You can see a video about Base 11’s Summer Fellowship Program below:

Discuss in the Dassault Nonprofit forum at 3DPB.com.

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