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Autodesk Makes Key Software Free for Educators
Posted by 3DP4E
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By Jason Brick | Psfk

Engineering software giant gives away AutoCAD to schools, educators and students worldwide

Autodesk has long been a leader in commercial design software with it computer-assisted drafting (CAD) programs for construction, entertainment, industry and transportation. Last week, they made an announcement that could potentially position them as leaders in educaton as well.

Beginning this month, Autodesk will make most of its flagship products — including the renowned AutoCAD — free for students, educators and learning institutions. This action, inspired by and in alignment with President Obama’s ConnectED initiative, is offered to 188 nations worldwide with a potential reach of 680 million students currently enrolled.

This is not a 100% altruistic movement on AutoCAD’s part. By making their software free in educational settings, they practically guarantee that graduates are familiar with their products. In addition to the public relations win, it makes using their software the path of least resistance for the business customers who still pay for the product.

Mixed motivations don’t reduce the benefit of this move, especially to students and teachers in underfunded regions. The Team Makeosity Energy Scooter Project in the Bronx Public Schools uses Autodesk TinkerCAD and Fusion 360 to let high school students design an energy scooter that charges devices when pedaled. It’s a combined effort to promote fitness and boost interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs made possible by access to software like that distributed by Autodesk.

The decision to provide free software in educational settings is one of Autodesk’s many initiatives to put design and engineering to work making the world a better place. Some of their other projects include affordable, energy efficient home design, improving mobility for amputees and helping farmers in developing nations improve their yield for both nutrition and profit.

Coupled with the recent announcement that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will require all researchers it funds to publish only in journals that distribute copies for free, this could herald a new trend in tech firms toward sharing science and innovation early and often.

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Posted on June 3, 2014
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By Steve Heller | The Motley Fool