a2This week kicks off the White House’s second annual National Week of Making, and as President Obama calls for the creation of a Nation of Makers, companies such as Autodesk are not shying away from doing their part. Autodesk, whose 3D design software is used within thousands of schools and maker communities nationwide, has taken a keen interest in 3D printing as of late, as they, along with many others, see the technology not only as a transformative one for manufacturing, but also an essential tool for learning.

Today, as part of the White House event, Autodesk has officially launched Project Ignite, an open and free platform for learning which “builds the skill and confidence of young learners through creative, hands-on design experiences focused on the latest technology trends like 3D printing and electronics.”

Project Ignite will focus on the entire spectrum of education ranging from grades K-12 and incorporates Autodesk’s custom design software with a slew of step-by-step projects, as well as hardware options which individuals and educational institutions may purchase.

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“Bringing 3D design and literacy into the classroom is an important step in preparing our next generation to be innovative and creative thinkers,” Autodesk PR Manager Jennifer Gentrup explained to us. “Project Ignite encompasses every aspect of the design experience and available options include free design software, step-by-step projects and hardware purchasing options including 3D printing and electronics kits.”

Aimed at bringing the expanding Maker Movement into the classroom, Autodesk is able to leverage their comprehensive experience within the educational arena to bring forth Project Ignite by presenting a package of material, software, and know-how into the making community.a3

“Project Ignite has been a wonderful addition to the classroom and I love what it does for my students’ excitement, engagement and overall interest with design and 3D printing technology,” said Kim Coyle, an educator at the Middle School of Plainville in Plainville, CT, who has been using the program in her classroom. “Our goal is to inspire and prepare the students to be the next generation of innovators, so we’re expanding Project Ignite into other grade levels and looking into creating a makerspace next year to provide an environment that nurtures the students’ curiosity and creativity.”

Via the web platform educators are able to set their classes up within the program. Teachers can create a class profile online, invite their students, choose a ready-to-teach 3D printing, 3D modeling or electronics project, and manage everything within the simple web interface.

Whether the material is utilized within the classroom via the free software, including 123D Circuit and Tinkercad, and optional for-purchase hardware, which includes MakerBot 3D printers and Circuit Scribe pens/modules, or used by parents within the home for entertaining weekend projects, Project Ignite looks to transform the educational experience.

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In addition to MakerBot, companies such as Pearson, Arduino, Microsoft and Electoninks Writables will be supporting the initiative by offering their hardware to schools in bundles, which will get educators up and running ASAP.

With big name companies supporting this initiative, and the rapid acceleration within technologies crucial to the Maker Movement, it appears that education is undergoing a fundamental shift from listening and watching to doing and creating. If you are an educator or a parent interested in this project, you may sign up for free at the Project Ignite website here. Let’s hear your thoughts on the launch of this project and what it may mean for education in general. Discuss in the Autodesk Project Ignite forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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