Dassault Systèmes, producers of the popular SOLIDWORKS 3D modeling system, announced an educational partnership that may suggest something interesting.
The company struck a deal with UMass Lowell to jointly open a “digital learning center” on campus to “let engineering students get hands-on experience in designing and creating products for the Experience Economy”.
They explain further:
The new 3DEXPERIENCE Center, targeted to open in 2019, will provide students with access to Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform and its design and collaboration applications, including the company’s industry-leading SOLIDWORKS CAD software. Students at the center will learn how to design products using Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality environments, how to incorporate new technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence into their product designs, and how to bring their designs to life using Robotics and Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing.
This is obviously a great move for the campus, Dassault Systèmes and 3D printing in general, as more people will enter the workforce with a better understanding of the technology and how to use it.
But perhaps there is more to the story here.
SOLIDWORKS is a very powerful system, perhaps the most powerful in the industry, but it is also quite expensive to use, both in terms of software licensing, PC equipment and training.
A steep price barrier makes it challenging to sell any products, and SOLIDWORKS would be no exception. In past years Dassault Systèmes had a sharply discounted student edition, which was a mere fraction of the price of the “real” SOLIDWORKS.
That approach is very strategic because students would learn using the tool, and become very familiar with it. Once they depart the educational institution, they would expect to use the same software at their new job. Sometimes they would see SOLIDWORKS at the place of work, but if not, they would ask for it, and sometimes get it. Great for SOLIDWORKS business, the company, and former student.
It is therefore key to introduce a complex 3D tool to students before they enter the workforce.
However, in recent months I’ve noticed a bit of a trend where there is an increasing number of educational and non-profit sites using Autodesk Fusion 360 as opposed to SOLIDWORKS. Why? Because Autodesk offers the product, the full version, at no charge to these parties.
While a sharply discounted version is good, free is even better, apparently.
However, opening an official center in a campus equipped with SOLIDWORKS software is another way to ensure students are familiar with the product before they make their way into the workforce. Could this be one more reason Dassault Systèmes opened this center?
Dassault Systèmes explains:
The center is part of Dassault Systèmes’ strategy to partner with companies and academic institutions to create the workforce of the future.
So we can see a lot more such installations in the future at key academic institutions.
Your move, Autodesk!