I’m on a mission to make CAD education accessible. Here’s why.
I’m very fortunate to have been introduced to 3D modeling at a very young age. I was later able to take four CAD classes in High School. Those classes introduced me to a variety of modeling types: 2D drawing (AutoCAD), architectural design (AutoCAD Architecture), 3D mesh design (Maya), and 3D parametric design (PTC Creo and Autodesk Inventor).
I’ve always enjoyed woodworking and building inventions with my hands. The idea of 3D modeling something before creating it in ‘real-life’ really piqued my curiosity.
Naturally, I gravitated toward utilitarian designs and parametric software. This realization led me to study Industrial Design in college. It was there that I was required to learn the industry-standard, SolidWorks.
Why I Teach CAD
College is where my teaching journey began. In hindsight, I’m fortunate that my professor lacked SolidWorks knowledge. On the first day of class, he announced, “You’ll learn Solidworks from YouTube.”
He was assigned to ‘teach’ our required class but did not know the program himself. YouTube back then consisted mostly of homemade videos. Tutorials and educational content were few and far between.
I was furious at the time. I was spending thousands of dollars on a degree. How was a required class taught by a professor that didn’t know the subject?
Learning to 3D model no longer requires thousands of dollars or a 4-year engineering degree.“
Fortunately, learning SolidWorks was a breeze for me, thanks to my background with Autodesk Inventor. For the most part, it was a matter of getting used to a different user interface while understanding some additional quirks and nuances.
Only one classmate had prior experience with any CAD program. I naturally became the class’s unofficial teaching assistant. I wanted to make the most of my time and had nothing else to do after finishing the assignments in 5 minutes, while others struggled to navigate the program.
These were my first aha moments. I enjoyed watching and helping fellow students get past each learning hurdle – it was inspiring!
Witnessing the large knowledge gap, I went on to start an official Solidworks User Group. I worked behind the scenes to bring in industry experts and led in-person workshops. I wanted to close the gap between student and professional – something the University wasn’t providing.
The Start of Fusion 360
Around the same time, Autodesk quietly introduced a new program called Fusion 360. An Autodesk rep had demoed the tool in one of my design classes. At that time, it was horrible – a lackluster demo with a product that did not work as expected.
After first experimenting with Fusion 360, two things stuck with me. First, Autodesk promised this would be the first CAD package to support native Mac OS. Second, they considered what a CAD package would be if built in modern times.
I’ve always used a handful of programs that work solely on Mac OS. I would partition my MacBook Pro just to run SolidWorks – that was a real pain point for me.
As time went on, I started using Fusion 360 more and more, even though I continued to do project and client work in SolidWorks. I also worked in a 3D printing lab, where I taught Fusion 360 to non-design students and community members. I noticed a huge opportunity for non-designers (or engineers) to learn 3D modeling software – something that excited me while teaching Fusion 360.
The classes included children, university students, retirees, and everything in-between. I enjoyed watching students go from an idea in their head, 3D modeling, and 3D printed objects in a matter of minutes.
I moved to Chicago after college, where I continued to teach Fusion 360 at local Makerspaces while doing design work full-time.
In-person classes required that people had set aside time to travel. That meant those with only the funds and resources could do so – something that bothered me. That’s why I started creating online tutorials. I wanted to reach more people – anyone willing to learn.
Today and the Future
I started Product Design Online to make computer-aided design (CAD) education accessible to hobbyists and everyday people. Learning to 3D model no longer requires thousands of dollars or a 4-year engineering degree. (You may end up with a professor that does not teach it, anyway!)
Now, more than ever, hobbyists and professionals are utilizing 3D modeling for 3D printing, woodworking, and other projects.
My passion and experience in teaching in-person classes led me to create the best Fusion 360 tutorials on the internet.
My concise teaching style resonates with today’s internet learners. It’s become harder than ever to stay focused as screentime dominates our lives – that’s why I incorporate learning science and instructional design into every tutorial. Couple that with countless hours of practice, it’s no wonder people often tell me, “your tutorials are better than the official Autodesk ones.”
My tutorials have helped people from the ages of 8 to 80 learn how to use Fusion 360 for 3D printing, woodworking, and other projects.
Today, I reside in the Seattle area, where I run this Fusion 360 training site and do design work on the side.
Wishing you success in your learning and 3D modeling endeavors,
Product Designer & Fusion 360 Instructor