Perspectives on greener product development and manufacturing from Sustainable Minds, our partners, customers and contributors.

Autodesk's Sustainability Workshop for engineering faculty and students

By Guest contributors on December 3, 2010

Guest contributor Jeremy Faludi (LEED AP) is a sustainable design strategist and researcher. He teaches green design at Stanford University, where he created the graduate/undergraduate class ME221: Green Design Tools and Metrics, and at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

I recently had the pleasure of helping Autodesk develop some sustainable design tutorials. It's called the Autodesk Sustainability Workshop, and is aimed at college engineering students and teachers. Along with Autodesk's fantastic Sustainability Initiative team members Dawn Danby and Adam Menter, and the video production wizards at Free Range Studios, we launched a set of five short videos on sustainable design theory that introduce essential concepts of sustainable design, such as whole systems thinking, life-cycle thinking, and lightweighting. The Autodesk folks also put together twenty tutorial videos on how to implement the concepts in Autodesk software, along with datasheets and other resources. More great content is in the works, on other topics.

This is the sort of thing I want to have available, as an educator myself, so it's been a very exciting project for me. It's not just talking about theory, but getting into concrete details of how sustainability principles are applied. Also, it's not an entire canned curriculum that I may or may not agree with the flow and duration of, but little bite-sized modules that can easily be worked into any number of different courses with different overall goals. They could be used for a design class, or a mechanical engineering class, or even a management class that wants to educate managers about the more technical aspects of sustainability.

I'm especially excited about the combined Whole Systems & Life-Cycle thinking process because it's a new methodology we came up with for the videos, that mixes the established methodologies of whole systems thinking and life cycle thinking. SustainableMinds users may be particularly interested in it because it integrates the analytical process of LCA with the creative process of ideation and exploration. The combination of the two in one design process could potentially be a very powerful tool for designers and business executives to innovate their products and services.