Free Autodesk Design Software Available for Schools Globally

Autodesk offers educators and students free software to create global industry ready workforce

Image courtesy of Autodesk and Mike Santolupo, Technological Design teacher at John Paul II Catholic Secondary School in London, Ontario, Canada.

At Autodesk University, the CAE software giant announced it will release its professional design and engineering software for free to all academic institutions, students, and instructors around the world. This wide release of freeware will allow over 680 million students and academics from over 800,000 universities and high schools access the software at home, labs, and in classrooms.

Carl Bass, Autodesk CEO, announced, “The way we make things is changing rapidly, and we need a workforce ready to design for new manufacturing and construction techniques. By providing free professional design tools to students, faculty members and academic institutions around the world, we’re helping get industry ready for the next phase.”

The announcement follows Autodesk’s release of free software to schools throughout the US as part of the ConnectED initiative set up by the Obama administration. Recently, Autodesk has also expanded the access to free software to academics in the Asia Pacific and European regions.

Thanks to Autodesk, schools will also be better suited to connect their designs to the cloud. Schools will have access to Autodesk’s cloud-based design products, and services through A360 and a free maintenance subscription.

This release will help level the playing field for many academic organizations. Now any school able to afford computers will be able to share CAE software to their students. The announcement is particularly ideal for students in high risk neighborhoods looking to use design classes, competitions, 3D Printing, and advanced manufacturing to pique the interest of their students towards STEM.

Karen Kaun, Founder of Makeosity, said “Our students are using Fusion 360 to design an Energy Scooter which we are bringing to market via Kickstarter, and they’re only in 8th grade! If we can help more classroom teachers incorporate learning through design in their curriculum, and technologies that engage students in problem-solving through engineering, students will see how math and science are springboards to careers as future innovators and entrepreneurs.”

Neelie Kroes, former vice-president of the European Commission, added “Closing the digital gap in education starts by providing European schools with common access to the same advanced technology being used by industry professionals today. Autodesk’s pledge to provide our schools, students and teachers with free access to its professional 3D design software will enable educators to introduce design thinking into our classrooms; equip digital natives with the design tools to learn to solve real-world challenges in new creative ways; and prepare the next-generation workforce with the 21st century skills to meet industry demands and advance our economies.”

If all this free software wasn’t enough, Autodesk is also assisting educators to integrate the software into curricula. Teachers have access to free project-based learning content and resources via the Design Academy and The Digital STEAM Workshop. For more on the Workshop, watch the video below.

This looks to be a smart move for Autodesk. Giving access to their professional suite for free guarantees a stronghold in schools. This will also ensure that the next generation of STEM leaders will be well versed in their products, making future sales a shoe-in.  Additionally if, as the announcement implies, schools will gain access to the professional level product then Autodesk can reduce costs used to develop stripped down academic software versions. The only question now, will simulation competitors be forced to release free software on a similar scale in order to compete in future markets?

Source Autodesk

Written by

Shawn Wasserman

For over 10 years, Shawn Wasserman has informed, inspired and engaged the engineering community through online content. As a senior writer at WTWH media, he produces branded content to help engineers streamline their operations via new tools, technologies and software. While a senior editor at, Shawn wrote stories about CAE, simulation, PLM, CAD, IoT, AI and more. During his time as the blog manager at Ansys, Shawn produced content featuring stories, tips, tricks and interesting use cases for CAE technologies. Shawn holds a master’s degree in Bioengineering from the University of Guelph and an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo.