Autodesk has long been offering career-boosting certifications, committed to laying the groundwork for professional and academic learners to boost their careers with industry-relevant skills. People all over the globe have shared how these certifications have helped define their paths. But it’s astounding to hear how one person—a high-school student—was certified five times over—that’s a first.
Benjamin Tran, a senior at Ashley High School In Wilmington, North Carolina, quietly completed five certifications in Autodesk classes, inspiring teachers, peers, and even industry folks with his perseverance. While the global pandemic was roaring, Tran used his time at home to become a certified user in AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, and Autodesk Revit and a professional user in Autodesk Inventor and Autodesk Revit.
An aspiring aerospace engineer, Tran plans to study engineering in college and hopes to make an impact on future generations as he moves up in the industry. “I took advantage of the independent study time I had during the pandemic and felt determined to hone my industry knowledge and skills to best prepare for my professional future,” says Tran. “To me, taking the steps to get certified was a surefire way for me to signal to universities and future employers that I was taking my career into my own hands.”
Tran was one of many students who enrolled in a suite of Stephen O’Neil’s architecture and engineering drafting courses at Ashley High School. And while high schools all over the country weave architecture and engineering into their curriculum, these classes stand out. This is because O’Neil himself has direct industry experience that informs his teaching career in North Carolina. O’Neil was a practicing engineer who graduated from Wayne State University with a mechanical engineering degree. He worked in the automotive industry as a machinist and applications engineer, then on medical devices as a manufacturing engineer.
With such a breadth of industry experience, it’s no wonder O’Neil’s students emerge prepared for their future. “We started offering Autodesk certifications as a nice-to-have early on in my career at Ashley High School,” O’Neil says. “Since then, it has become the standard proof of learning or final exam grade for each class. This is a testament to how valuable Autodesk certifications are in signaling job readiness and how an understanding of these fundamental skills help students move beyond the classroom and into the workforce.”
Tran says his favorite part about Mr. O’Neil’s classes was the fact that there were no due dates. Now, this may not seem like a shock—what high school student wants to work under the pressure of a deadline? But Tran’s experience is more nuanced than rebelling against structure; Mr. O’Neil’s classes are set up to allow each student to work at their own pace. This means Tran sometimes found himself working ahead of schedule and other times spending extra time diving deeper into assignments. Ultimately, O’Neil has created an inclusive environment where students can determine their individual needs as learners, with access to resources that can help them explore future careers.
O’Neil uses Autodesk Fusion 360, AutoCAD, Inventor Professional, and Revit to teach his students design and engineering skills, learning with the intent to make and manufacture. Combined with the certifications, his students are on track for success. And in November 2020, the Autodesk Learning and Certifications platform launched to provide flexible, data-informed learning experiences. Students like Benjamin Tran and the rest of O’Neil’s class are taking control of their professional future—and an empowered learning mindset leads to an empowered (and skilled) career.