Guest blog by Simon Leigh; Sr. Manager, Industry and Portfolio Marketing at Autodesk
Autodesk is a Crown Supplier for the FIRST® Robotics Competition
Houston, Texas played host to the exciting climax of the 2023 FIRST® Championship, April 19-22. Students of all ages participated in three robotics competitions that combine the excitement of sports with the rigors of STEM learning and skills. If you’d like to get in on the fun of this international event, FIRST® welcomes students of all skill levels, both technical and non-technical.
All you need is curiosity and enthusiasm. Have you and your friends ever dreamt up an invention that you wanted to design? You may have imagined the kinds of skills, materials, and machinery you’d need to make that invention a reality. Some of those skills you may have already possessed, and others you’d have to learn along the way. The cool thing about those ideas is that they can become reality. The skills and resources needed to design and make new things are within reach—maybe closer than you think. Not only that, but those skills can be the foundation of a rewarding career when you’re finished with school. How great would that be to have an exciting job in design and get to make cool things with like-minded people for a living?
By learning how to design and make robots, you gain valuable skills that are in high demand in a range of industries, from manufacturing and motorsports to healthcare and beyond. Not only will robotics projects help you develop technical skills, but they'll also teach you how to think creatively, work collaboratively, and solve complex problems. Plus, with the increasing demand for automation and robotics in the modern world, there are endless career opportunities available for those with a passion for this field. The World Economic Forum just released The Future of Jobs Report 2023, where it listed robotics engineers in the top 10 jobs expected to grow the fastest from now until 2027.
We hear this all the time from the companies we work with and the people we speak to. Recent research results from ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) and Autodesk show that 72% of all the people we spoke to in industry believed human-robotic interaction will increase, and 74% believe the use of automation will increase for manufacturing engineers. So, knowing how to build and control robots will be especially important in the future. The research also showed that factory environments of the future will become more complex through the use of robotics, advanced 3D printers, artificial intelligence and multi-axis production machines. The employers we spoke to also said they’ll be looking for excellent “soft” skills like data analytics and co-worker collaboration—all amazing skills you learn through FIRSTprograms..
Many of the skillsets for making your inventive dreams a reality are the same ones real-world employers crave for their new hires. Let’s say you wanted to build a drone that could carry a camera but still be light enough to fly a certain distance on a charge. You could use CAD software to design the parts, AI-driven generative design to optimize the parts for the best combination of low weight and physical strength, and CAM software to send the parts to a 3D printer. But before finishing production, you’d want to render your design into 3D models that show how the finished drone will look, run computer simulations to see how the drone would work in real situations, and create animations of the drone’s movements for demonstration.
That’s why Autodesk Fusion 360 brings all those software capabilities into a single platform. It’s a professional design, simulation, manufacturing, and collaboration tool in use across the world today. But students also need these professional tools to begin their journey of discovery and innovation, so we give students and teachers free educational access to Fusion 360’s advanced design and make potential, as well as other Autodesk products. The cloud-connected platform is built for easy collaboration with people—like FIRST teammates—whether in-person or remote. Check out the video below to see how student teams use Fusion 360 to compete in programs like FIRST.
It’s never too early to get started down the path of designing and making. Go to the Autodesk Education Community to get access to Fusion 360. To get going right away, a special course called “Learn Fusion 360 in 90 Minutes” will help you learn the basics and jumpstart that career in robotics.