AMS Spring 2023

Students Use Autodesk’s New Fusion 360 to 3D Print Assistive Device For Disabled Man

6K SmarTech

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As 3D technology becomes a more common part of the classroom, students are making significant contributions to the world around them at younger and younger ages. We’ve seen a university student work to address a congenital ear deformity and high school students print a prosthetic hand for a local man who had lost his. Now, students in the eight grade at Swanson Middle School in Arlington, VA use the technology to help a man in their community named Stephen Kozma.

Autodesk-DesignFuture-2Technology instructor, Jim DeMarino, couldn’t be prouder of his students who were able to take their ideas from concept to production thanks to AutoDesk. Merino believes that practical application provides a strong source of motivation for students and was delighted to find his students drawn so fully into a real world design problem. His goal is to create a more technologically literate citizen who not only interacts with the world as s/he finds it, but also works to make it better.

The students were divided up into a number of teams to work on creating the device that would help the man use his touch screen in order to more easily communicate. Prior to arriving at their final design choices, the students had an opportunity to meet with Stephen and his mother to talk about needs and wants. They continued to work with both Stephen and his mom throughout the process in order to refine their designs, an excellent opportunity for them to understand how client input shapes the design process.

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Swanson’s 3D MakerBot Printers

Merino noted that part of the learning curve for his students was realizing that there isn’t a direct line between the first idea and the realization of the physical object. Instead, they learned both to weed out weaker ideas and recognize strengths across ideas in order to create a better final design. After the student teams proposed their design solutions, they worked together to create a single design that was then printed in the classroom on MakerBot machines.

Programs Manager for education at Autodesk, Dan Branach, described the reasoning behind their companies continued support of education and their newest initiative titled Design the Future:

“We really do believe that these children are our future. The next generation of designers is here today using the next generation’s design tool…our whole goal is to have these students imagine, design, and create a better world with our tools.”

The students learned that designing and making something is an in-depth and iterative process that is truly time-intensive but also incredibly rewarding.

The Arlington School District, which includes Swanson, that was the first to pilot Autodesk’s Fusion 360 software as part of Virginia’s statewide mandate to include simulation and modeling in the curriculum. But best of all, since Fusion 360 is a cloud based software, so they never had to worry about the dog eating their homework.  Let us know what you think about this story, and this awesome use of 3D printing within the education space, in the 3D printing education forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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