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Design Students in Singapore Are Skilling Up With Free Access to Generative Design

As companies around the world are transforming themselves in the face of automation and technological disruption, workers are also feeling pressure to evolve their skills and experience so that they can thrive in the future of work. And while companies should invest in retraining and upskilling employees, other stakeholders such as educational institutions also have a role to play in building a skilled workforce for tomorrow’s design and manufacturing environment.

Autodesk already makes its software free to all students and educational institutions so they can have access to the tools they’ll need in their future jobs. Now we’re taking it a step further with a strategic partnership with the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) to provide free access to Autodesk’s newest design technology, generative design.

The memorandum signed by Mr. Haresh Khoobchandani of Autodesk and Prof Pey Kin Leong, Associate Provost of Undergraduate Studies and SUTD Academy.

Using AI-based algorithms and the computing power of the cloud, generative design lets users create thousands of design options by simply defining their design problem through parameters such as weight, material, or manufacturing method. The software explores all the possible permutations of a solution, quickly generating design solutions.

Faculty and students will receive free access to generative design within Fusion 360, making SUTD the first university in Southeast Asia to equip all students with these capabilities. The technology has been used by some of the largest companies in the automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing industries. Together with SUTD, we believe the impact of this partnership will be far-reaching for both workers and companies.

“This partnership is pivotal in positioning our students at the forefront of engineering and architectural design on a global level,” said Prof Pey Kin Leong, associate provost of Undergraduate Studies at SUTD. “Providing them with generative design will prepare them to be technically-grounded innovators and gain mastery in the same class of cutting-edge design tools used by renowned designers like Philippe Starck.”

Generative design was applied to this table by a budding designer at SUTD.

SUTD faculty and staff will receive training and certification on Autodesk Fusion 360 so that they can impart the relevant skills and knowledge to their students, who will be able to use Fusion 360 in various areas of design, including products, systems and architecture design as part of their curriculum. They’ll also have the chance to apply for internships at Autodesk and at our business partners, where they can use their new skills in a real-world professional setting.

SUTD students who’ve started using Fusion 360 are already working on projects that have the potential to benefit business and industry. One such project is an automated guidewire threading device, meant for use in endo-vascular surgical operations, to automatically thread guidewires from the insertion site to the required location in the human body, greatly reducing surgery time. Another group of students designed a fully autonomous crop retrieval robot system that can overcome human limitations to improve critical farming processes. In both projects, students used Fusion 360 to visualize problems in their prototypes and reduce the number of design iterations, as well as optimize their designs to produce lightweight structures that cuts down on material wastage.

SUTD students demonstrated how the automated guidewire threading device works to Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost.

“Closer collaboration between education and industry is key to bridging the skills shortage as the future workforce emerges,” said Haresh Khoobchandani, the vice president of Asia Pacific at Autodesk.“We’ve worked with SUTD since their inception to ensure students have access to the same world-class software used bythe most prominent designers, architects and engineers in the world. With this partnership to enhance the curriculum with generative design capabilities, I look forward to seeing exciting innovations from future generations of designers.”