When Julio Garcia came down for breakfast one sunny Texas morning, he never expected a simple bowl of cereal to be the source of inspiration that would catapult his motivation to create. After helping his 7-year-old brother, who struggled to pour himself a bowl of cereal and milk without spilling, Garcia thought to himself: If my brother struggles with this issue, how many other kids are out there needing a bit of help? From that moment on, Garcia would identify as an innovator and never look back.
Finding a home in engineering
Garcia, currently attending the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP), pursued mechanical engineering after realizing that his passion for making presented a constant source of entertainment and exploration. When he was a kid, his imagination swirled with ideas to make life just a little bit more interesting. He and his family couldn’t afford to spend a lot of money on high-end toys, so he took it upon himself to create entertainment, making everything from basketball hoops to cardboard toys fashioned from materials lying around his house.
When it comes to technology, Garcia has always had a knack for independent learning. As a high school student, he taught himself how to use Autodesk Tinkercad software after a teacher encouraged him and his classmates to experiment with their 3D printer. Within Tinkercad, Garcia discovered a fully integrated design platform for CAD design, electronics, and coding that made 3D design fun, easy, and intuitive to learn. The appreciation for experimentation continues to live on through Garcia’s ideas and innovative designs. “It amazes me how people can manage to make all sorts of unimaginable things happen with physics and engineering. By understanding materials and forces, you can create anything,” says Garcia.
Creating the Amazing Cereal Dispenser
There is no solution that is too big or too small for a true engineer. As such, Garcia set out to design a prototype to help solve his little brother’s, as well as many other children’s, problem. As a senior in high school, Garcia was in a robotics class where he was assigned the task of designing something for the greater good. And so, the Amazing Cereal Dispenser (ACD) was born.
Garcia recruited a few friends to distribute some of the work across product development, modeling, circuitry, and marketing. Because their resources were limited, the ACD team knew that their scrappiness and creativity would be an asset, not only to build the actual product but also to work through the process of assembly. The team chose to use Tinkercad as an accessible way to design and engineer their product. A free 3D design tool with online courses to help students learn at their own pace, Tinkercad helped the ACD team build design skills in an easy-to-use platform. “Tinkercad gave the ACD team the opportunity to dip our toes into the world of designing and making. We were able to develop our engineering skills and do so without having to eat into our budget,” says Garcia.
The team diligently refined their design iteration after iteration, leading them to a hard-earned win at a district-level competition and eventually gaining them school sponsorship to compete at the state level.
From Tinkercad to Fusion 360
Garcia’s unquenchable thirst for creating led him to graduate from simple designs in Tinkercad to more complex modeling in Autodesk Fusion 360. By using Autodesk’s remote learning tools, Garcia was able to build on his skills at his own pace and confidently explore the world of design. In the end, this transition has not only helped him refine prototypes of the Amazing Cereal Dispenser, but it has also been symbolic of something much deeper—the beginning of a lifelong journey in making and designing that is helping him develop the skills necessary for his future career.
“Whether I was using Tinkercad for simpler designs or Fusion 360 for more complex modeling, I felt I was able to take an idea that I had in my mind and make it a reality, with no idea being too out of reach.”
Although these days Garcia has opted for a more substantial breakfast of bacon and eggs, he and his brother still enjoy a bowl of marshmallow-sprinkled cereal now and then. Sweet.