Set Up Students for Success with Fusion 360 for Education

March 21, 2023

5 min read

Educators and students can access Fusion 360 for free and get up to speed with modern CAD, CAM, CAE, and PCB workflows, all on one cloud-connected platform.

While spring is only just now upon us, before you know it, new graduates will be celebrating their procession onto the next phase of their lives, whether that be higher education or budding careers. Fortunately, it’s always the right time to prepare students for the next-generation workflows and technologies of the future of design and manufacturing. You can do that with free educational access to Autodesk Fusion 360, the cloud-connected platform for teaching integrated CAD/CAM and CAE concepts and skills in a single, easy-to-use software platform.  

Next-generation software for advanced design and manufacturing education

When Sunset High School near Portland, Oregon started a Career and Technical Education (CTE) engineering program, its advisory board stressed how important 3D design and manufacturing is to employers and recommended Fusion 360. Since then, Sunset has integrated the software to pair with its CNC machines, laser cutters, and 3D printers to teach multiple CAD/CAM and CAE concepts from a single, easy-to-use platform, rather than needing multiple programs. “One of the things that I really enjoy about Fusion 360 is that it is a very short on-ramp, and we really get to move through a lot of physical projects quickly” says Cady Greer, CTE instructor at Sunset High School.

Since adding Fusion 360 to its CTE program, Sunset High School students have gained design and manufacturing skills that employers need while also supplying the school system with a critical HVAC part.

Greer also explains how Fusion 360 helped the school in a less expected way. The HVAC system of the Beaverton School District had a problem with a bushing part that was difficult to replace, so Greer and her students used Fusion 360 to model and 3D print the part themselves. The part now has been used in several of schools, and she estimates it will save the district $5 million over the next few years.  

So why is Fusion 360 having this level of impact in Schools, Colleges, and Universities? That’s easy: Fusion 360 has a simple, intuitive design that allows students to work with its various features and tools easily, so they can engage quickly with course content. When they need additional support, in-software tool tips are there to guide them in using features and workflows. They can work from any computer—either with Mac or PC software or through a web browser—and the cloud-connected data is accessible from anywhere. Fusion 360 utilizes a top-down design approach that today’s students love, letting them create assembly components in the space they’re supposed to fit.  

Students can work together seamlessly with collaboration features and version control that makes it easy to roll back to previous versions. As continued convergence in industry makes projects more complex, students learning on Fusion 360’s collaboration-first foundation will be comfortable sharing models and data in the same manner in which they’ll work in the professional world. 

Features like Fusion 360’s timeline help educators see how students approach projects conceptually, bringing a visual, step-by-step workflow to teaching. It also gives students insight into their decisions to see if they’re absorbing new concepts like the software’s Generative Design, advanced simulation tools, and end-to-end design for manufacturing workflows.  

All told, Fusion 360 has been built for the way today’s digital-native students approach technology. It’s easy to learn, allows them to iterate faster on projects, and prepares them for the modern industry workplace. 

Schools thriving with Fusion 360  

Educational institutions can set up their students for success in the advanced design and manufacturing job market by incorporating Fusion 360 in their curriculum, whether they are high schools, community colleges, or universities. It’s not only Sunset High School that is benefiting from using Fusion 360 in its program. 

Lawrence Equipment designs and manufactures automated machines for making tortillas, flatbread, and other foods. After the company invited instructors from the nearby Pasadena City College to see how Fusion 360 significantly improved the productivity of its manufacturing, the school added the software to its curriculum. It’s helped them reduce the number of steps in design and manufacturing workflows while preparing students for in-demand industry jobs. “The number one complaint we had from students was that they need more time on the machines,” says Jacob T. Tucker, CTE instructor at Pasadena City College. “With Fusion 360, students were spending less time at the desks and more time on the machines.” 

Pasadena City College (PCC) partnered with local manufacturer Lawrence Equipment to develop a course that helps students earn relevant and valuable skills. Courtesy of Pasadena City College.

Students too are saying why they prefer using Fusion 360. At the research university Imperial College London, a group of students working collaboratively on an international rocketry competition cites Fusion 360 as essential to their project. “Fusion 360 allows us to operate like modern engineers,” says Kiran de Silva, student at Imperial College London. “It lets us integrate four different major sub teams all developing different designs with different requirements into one big assembly.”

At Imperial College London, students entering an international rocketry competition collaborate with Fusion 360 on multiple designs for a larger assembly.

The student team particularly appreciates Fusion 360’s simulation tools, which let them seamlessly move from CAD designs to simulation and the generative design workspace, which provides a simple interface in which they can refine rocket parts to be as mass-efficient as possible. 

It’s time to shine with free Fusion 360 software and instruction 

Unique features of the Fusion platform make both teaching and learning with the software easier and more effective. Its intuitive and modern 3D modeling, engineering, and production features convey the next-generation skills that changing industry technology and workflows require. The Fusion 360 cloud-connected platform integrates CAD, CAM, CAE, and PCB software in one place available from any device, which helps enables better collaboration and better insights from centralized data.  

Autodesk can support you every step of the way to incorporate Fusion 360 in your curriculum, with detailed getting-started guides and with learning pathways for a range of skill levels and career trajectories, which can help you build courses and curriculums. If you want to get hands-on with Fusion 360 before incorporating it into your curriculum, you can book a workshop with an Autodesk Certified Instructor to learn the fundamentals of Fusion 360 and get guidance on equipping students with the design tools, training, and real-world skills from industry professionals.  

Future-proof your design and manufacturing curriculum today with Autodesk Education. Get started with the new Fusion for Education ebook and get free access to Fusion 360, ready-to-use learning pathways and projects, and to connect with an Autodesk Certified Instructor.

Peter Kruger is a Senior Product Marketing Manager for Autodesk Education. He has worked in EdTech throughout most of his career and has a passion for education. Peter oversees product marketing for Higher Education as well as Learning and Certification.