School Is Not Out for Autodesk - A HotNews Interview with Alissa Perlstein Sykes


Autodesk seems dedicated to nurturing education in design software.   How long has Autodesk been embracing the educational institutions?  What has changed or expanded over the years?

Autodesk has had a strong connection with educational institutions for decades. In recent years, however, Autodesk has expanded that program in a number of ways. First, we have deeper resources available to educators and institutions, such as software suites, curriculum, certification programs, and training resources as well as numerous venues where Autodesk participates with faculty. But we know that students often want to learn how to use the technology on their own. So Autodesk also has extensive resources for students including free access to the same technology used by professionals every day, learning resources, and ways to share their work with their peers.

What offerings are there for students? 

Autodesk offers more than 35 titles of software that students can access for free from the Education Community. In addition, students can access a vast library of learning materials, including YouTube videos and support forums to continue to build their skills in the use of the software. Autodesk participates in a number of extracurricular activities where students can practice their skills in real-world challenges such as designing a fuel-efficient car, an agile robot, or a solar-powered home. Students can share ideas, tips, and designs with their peers on the Autodesk Facebook page which has morethan 70,000 fans. That is also where they can access the latest news from Autodesk including information on Autodesk consumer products that students will enjoy tinkering with in their free time.

Tell us more about the Autodesk Education Community.

The Autodesk Education community was established in 2006 and is comprised of more than two million members from more than 21,000 schools in 155 countries. Through the education community, any student and/or teacher have free access to more than 35 Autodesk software titles for their own personal learning. Students can also download many learning resources, search for internships and jobs, showcase their designs and discuss design topics with their peers. In addition, educators can download free curricula and exchange best practices within the secured site.  The URL for the Education Community is  

What assistance do you offer educators?  What does an educator have to do to tap into these resources?

Autodesk has nine software suites for sale to academic institutions.  Starting with secondary schools – we have the Autodesk Design Academy and the Autodesk Animation Academy.  For post-secondary students, we offer seven professional grade suites, aligned with fields of study, and feature the same software used by professionals.  For example, we offer the Building Design Suite for Education for architecture students. The suite includes 13 individual software titles including AutoCAD, Autodesk Revit and Autodesk 3ds Max Design.  In addition to the software, we also offer tailored curricula and teaching resources that match each of these suites.  For example, an architecture teacher or professor might choose to use the Autodesk BIM for Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Curriculum to aid in teaching their students about the industry design principle of Building Information Modeling (BIM).  To access these free downloadable curriculum, all educators need to do is join our Education Community website at

Autodesk also offers training resources through our Autodesk Training Centers (ATCs), with training developed for academic audiences. In addition, educators and students can certify their industry leading skills with Autodesk Certification.

What software is offered?  How does one gain access? What can it be used for?

We offer more than 35 products for free to students and educators.  For personal, in-home use, we make these products available for free to any student or teacher through our Education Community. For in-classroom use, our software and suites are available for sale from local Academic Value Added Resellers.  

What is Autodesk Digital STEAM Workshop?

The Autodesk Digital STEAM Workshop is our companion curriculum to the Autodesk Design Academy and the Autodesk Animation Academy suites for secondary schools.  Available for free through the Education Community, the curriculum helps equip educators with the latest tools to teach Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) principles using Autodesk technology.  It includes immersive, project-based experiences that engage students through instructional videos and interactive lessons with 3D models.  In addition, the curriculum includes a Digital Study Packet that helps students prepare for the exams associated with our new Certified User certification program for students. The Autodesk Digital STEAM Workshop will be available in the coming weeks for free through the Autodesk Education Community.

What connections do you envision between corporate clients and educational institutions?

The connection we see revolves around workforce preparedness.  Millions of professionals around the world use Autodesk’s design software to build the tallest, most sustainable buildings, longest bridges, fastest cars and award-winning special effects.  Because our software is used widely throughout these industries, it is important that students seeking careers in these fields prepare themselves for the workforce.  By learning how to use design software early on in their careers, they are better prepared to succeed as design professionals and are also more attractive candidates to prospective employers.

What happens to the free software offerings when a student gains employment?

The free student licenses provided through our Education Community expire after 36 months and are for in-home, non-professional use.  While students who find employment can no longer use these licenses, they do have the opportunity to upgrade their educational licenses to professional licenses at a reduced cost.

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