How CAD Empowers Kids: Carl Bass at Maker Faire

How CAD Empowers Kids: Carl Bass at Maker Faire
Carl Bass, chief executive at Autodesk.

The chief executive at Autodesk obviously prepared this talk for kids, and he arrived at Maker Faire dressed for the part: wearing a baseball cap, t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers.

Not what he wears when he’s talking to shareholders about fiscal year 2013.

But Bass can pull it off: he has a marvelously casual style, and a real passion for making.

The result: this is a fantastic primer on computer aided design (CAD) for kids — and for anyone who would like a very easy-going intro to some of the most basic, free tools and services available.

The emphasis is on Autodesk products, of course, but this is not a handicap since the company has a comprehensive collection of tools at the beginner level.

Bass’s CAD tour seques seamlessly through Autodesk’s intro suite: from 123D Design, to 123D Creature, to 123D Catch, to 123D Make. Along the way he touches on Instructables and TechShop, both Autodesk investments. TinkerCad and MakerBot 3D printers also get shout outs.

Bass introduces some of the company’s more advanced products as well, like Fusion 360, highlighting the free and student discounts available to amateurs.

Although he stays within the Autodesk universe, this is a lot more than just a tour of Autodesk’s products. Bass keeps the focus wide, and consistently highlights the broader view of what the tools can do.

Autodesk CEO Carl Bass: How CAD Empowers Kids (and Other Makers) from Maker Faire on



18 thoughts on “How CAD Empowers Kids: Carl Bass at Maker Faire

  1. jstults says:

    The video is nice, and I smiled at the stories of his kids scanning statues and printing their own.

    However, being able to read the source, modify it, run it on your own machine, and participate in an open source user / developer community is more empowering than using SaaS offerings intended to train the next generation of Autodesk customers. BRLCAD is free (as in freedom) and has some pretty good tutorial material. OpenSCAD has some good tutorial info too.

    Who Does that Server Really Serve?

    1. Robert says:

      I’m not sure I’d recommend BRLCAD to any beginners. Or even any non-experts.

      Probably much better for beginners would be or perhaps FreeCAD.

      1. jstults says:

        FreeCAD is another good one. Unfortunately, I think development is being held back by the refusal of the OpenCASCADE folks to clarify their license terms.

        The nice thing about the BRLCAD tutorials is that they’re not just a how-to for the software. They are an introduction to contructive solid geometry and the concepts of Boolean operations too.

  2. Robert says:

    Yup, the first hit is always free, kids.

  3. Timothy Gray says:

    My problem is AutoDesk software is impossibly high priced so that kids that are very interested are forced to pirate it. Mom And Dad cant afford $4195 for a full version of AutoCad. If they really are interested, then they will release a home user license that is affordable ($199) for the Full version.

    1. Christian Restifo (@restifo) says:

      If your kid has an .edu email address from school, chances are they can get full blown AutoCAD software for free. The only thing is it dumps an “academic license” image on the print. It’s a 3 year license.

      They can buy a permanent academic license for personal use for something like less than $200, if I remember correctly.

      1. Timothy Gray says:

        99% of all schools do not have .edu so this locks out all grade and high schools in the world. And this is where they need to be getting into CAD, not college.

  4. Shortz says:

    Carl Bass makes an incredible announcement that their Fusion product is available for free for anyone who’s company is not making over $250,000 per year.

    He says it at 20:38 here

    …and at this play position 18:27?

    Does anyone know how to utilize this?

    1. Shortz says:

      Please? :)

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DC Denison is the co-editor of The Maker Pro Newsletter, which covers the intersection of makers and business. That means hardware startups, new products, and market trends.

DC manages customer stories at Acquia, the digital experience company.

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