CAD Education
Makey Awards 2012 Nominee 08, Autodesk, Education

Founded in 1982 with the launch of their flagship AutoCAD software, San Rafael’s Autodesk, Inc. has historically lead the way in the development of digital design technology. Today, Autodesk products serve all sectors of the professional 3D design market, from engineering, to architecture, to entertainment, as well as an increasing number of consumer-level and mobile applications.

Like many developers of professional software tools, Autodesk has long maintained a reduced-cost educational licensing program for qualified students and faculty. Unlike many other developers, however, Autodesk has traditionally offered student licenses that are entirely free and, as recently as 2011, has extended its free licensing program to the unemployed. For eligible participants, the Autodesk Assistance Program (which ran from April 2009 through January 2011) provided free student licenses on over 25 Autodesk products, free ’round-the-clock online training, and access to heavily discounted classroom training, certification exams, and commercial software licenses.

In one fundamental sense, education is ultimately about the economy—about producing useful, skilled workers. For many professional jobs in engineering, construction, manufacturing, and other vital industries, having up-to-date skills in the Autodesk programs that dominate design workflows can mean the difference between getting a job and not. For recognizing that, and for doing their part to keep their user base educated and employed, we’re proud to welcome Autodesk to the running for the 2012 Makey Awards.


50 thoughts on “Makey Awards 2012 Nominee 08, Autodesk, Education

  1. In what way does Autodesk’s proprietary software mesh with Make’s mantra “if you can’t open it, you don’t own it”?

    1. Well, they own Instructables, which is pretty damn open. The software isn’t open but it’s open to most public use. You can get the required student email address just by beginning a school’s application process, no money required.

  2. I always find it kind of funny how in geek circles concepts of openness and do-it-yourself-edness never seem to extend to the popular “A-list” companies like Apple, Adobe and Autodesk. It seems once you have a certain level of cache, you rise above concerns about lock in and abuse of market position and things like that.

  3. Autodesk is a company that just laid off 7% of its staff because of a bad earnings report (while still being profitable) and has forced its way into market domination by purchasing every real competitor they have had. Their products are buggy and overpriced, and will soon be more of both given their intention to move to a completely cloud-based platform that ensures they control your every use of their increasingly poor performing products. They have consistently spit on their most loyal customers (see their recent decision to offer certain features only to people with expensive subscription packages, excluding even those that spent $8-10,000 on their “Suites”) and completely ignored feature requests and bug reports for years. Autodesk programs only dominate design workflows because they have bought their way into doing so rather than offering superior products. For many of their products there are no real alternatives. Tell me exactly how this is a good thing and we should be happy about it.

  4. It may not be open, but they are releasing an expensive commercial product for free to many different groups. I think that’s a reasonable counter to it being non-open source software.

  5. Vlad: And why do you think they’re doing that? The first hit’s always free.

    You may be able to use this software today for no cost but you have no real stake in its future. Autodesk could discontinue it tomorrow, cripple it, start charging for it, anything: and any dependence you have built on it – you may well have a lot of your work in Autodesk FooBar format by that point – is going to cause you significant pain.

    Why do people think “if you can’t open it, you don’t own it” doesn’t apply to software? It seems totally bizarre to me.

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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