Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Autodesk educates students on sustainable design

January 3, 2011
By Mary Del

At Autodesk University 2010 in November, the provider of 3D design, engineering and entertainment software highlighted its recently launched Autodesk Sustainability Workshop, an online portal of educational content that provides mechanical engineering students and teachers with resources to practice sustainable design.

The workshop features lessons that illustrate the principles and practice of sustainable design, such as whole systems design and lightweighting.

Dawn Danby, Autodesk’s Sustainable Design program manager, participated in the "Future of Sustainable Design" panel discussion at Autodesk University in Las Vegas, Nev., and discussed the impetus behind the workshop.

"Out of the hundreds of thousands of mechanical engineers every year who are being released into the marketplace, they are about to make very significant resource decisions," she said. "What we’ve been really pulling together is a whole set of really small, bite-sized videos and tutorials to teach them about things like how to decrease material use when they’re designing a component or a product. How can you design for disassembly? How can you think about all the different points of intervention that a mechanical engineer has in terms of decreasing the environmental footprint of something that they’re making," Danby explained. "Our hope is that that will really start to change how mechanical engineers are thinking about what they’re making…The intent really is to see them carry that into industry to change how mechanical engineers are doing their work."

The workshop features online videos, presentations, tips, tools and tutorials about how to apply the principles of sustainability to real-world design and engineering challenges, such as optimizing a design for more efficient use of energy, water and materials. Educators and students can download free Digital Prototyping software from the Autodesk Education Community to explore and test the concepts and lessons learned through the workshop.

"Sustainable design is a profound and business-altering factor in today’s global economy, crosscutting almost every industry that today’s students are graduating into," said Autodesk chief education officer, Joe Astroth, when the workshop was first launched. "Our challenge is to train new engineers to think differently, and more broadly, about their special responsibility as drivers of sustainable behaviour. As a result, our engineering schools are training grounds enabling future engineers to learn the practice of digital prototyping and make better-informed decisions about the environmental performance of their designs, radically influencing the future of our world."

The Autodesk Sustainability Workshop is part of the company’s ongoing effort to help millions of architects, designers and engineers worldwide transform the built world by making sustainability easy and accessible. The company’s hope is that equipping mechanical engineering students with the knowledge, principles and practice of sustainability will help them to create a better world through better design and engineering.

An on-camera interview with Dawn Danby is below. 

For more information, visit

Print this page


Story continue below