Learning to Make at STEAMLabs, Toronto

I was invited to Toronto’s STEAMLabs to speak about Autodesk and careers in STEAM for the students from Parkdale Collegiate High School. This post is a reference for the students and mentors as well as anyone else interested in resources to help students learn.

STEAMLabs is a non-profit community makerspace, where people of all ages and abilities come together for access to high-tech tools, to learn, and to create. It’s a place where Science, Technology Engineering, Art and Math can all be used to invent the future; a place where your imagination can come to play! Combining this with the Future of Making Things at Autodesk makes for an awesome combination. We started off by watching the Autodesk Showreel to inspire the group (which you can see below).

With my fellow panelists, Donn and Katy, we talked about our career paths and thoughts towards finding them. It was quite interesting that the three of us started out studying things that we thought were good for us and moved into things that were more interesting to us. And those interesting things benefitted from the intersection of our previous studies: Donn has applied his engineering to education, Katy her interest in coding to art and new media, and I took my architecture and engineering background into animation for film and games. As part of this, we all agreed that it was important for students to keep in touch with their interests and look for ways to explore them. If you like airplanes and not math, see if you can bring some of the joy of airplanes to math. Don’t be afraid to ask the teacher to put something into a meaningful context for you.

The other thing we all agreed on us was that it is important for students to find like-minded people to work and explore their interests with. One way to do this is for students to join clubs. If there is no club for something that they’re interested in, start one! The skills involved with starting and running a club will look great on a resume.

From there we talked about learning resources for students. Here are some of the best ones from Autodesk:
  • Autodesk makes all of our software free for students at students.autodesk.com
  • The Autodesk Design Academy hosts a ton of tutorials for helping to learn our software
  • Tinkercad is a great entry point for learning design (and the students at STEAMLabs jumped into that after our discussion) for making things
  • For making things, Instructables has tons of tutorials for people at makerspaces
  • Many of the making projects have cool electronic components and one can design and test their electronics with Autodesk Circuits
  • And referring back to the intersection of interesting ideas, students can explore biology through 3D printing and virtual reality with the Molecule Viewer

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