Onshape has only been available to the public for a year. In that time, we have seen students and educators from over 800 colleges and universities (plus many high schools) sign up for our Free Plan.

For those familiar with Onshape, perhaps it’s no surprise that schools have been quick to take advantage of full-cloud CAD. With no downloads, no installs, and superior tools for collaboration, Onshape fits right in with the software today’s students are already using. Programs like Google Docs allow simultaneous collaboration, a constantly recorded history, and the ability to run on mobile devices. Shouldn’t students expect the same of their CAD system?

Onshape’s Free Plan has been a fantastic start to bringing full-cloud CAD to education, but we wanted to do more for future designers and engineers. That’s why we are introducing the Onshape Education Plan.

Onshape’s Education Plan is free for students and educators. This means that any student or teacher can go to onshape.com/edu, sign up, and in minutes have access to professional 3D CAD with unlimited storage.

Coming from a public high school with no budget for STEM technologies and a robotics club that worked hard for every dollar earned, I dreamed of being able to afford a tool like this. As a college student, I finally had access to expensive traditional CAD systems, but quickly learned that even these tools had their limitations. When working on team design projects, I had to worry about things like:

  • Who has the latest version of our CAD model?
  • Is someone going to overwrite my work?
  • How do I work on my CAD models from home?

That’s why Onshape is so exciting! Onshape’s Education Plan is not just free CAD. It’s free CAD that allows students to work collaboratively, that makes it easy for a teacher to get their students up and running, that records every change made so that work is never lost, and that lets everyone access their models from any device, anywhere.

The accessibility factor can’t be stressed enough. CNBC recently reported that more than 50% of all devices sold for U.S. classroom use are inexpensive Google Chromebooks.

Think about that for a moment. For years, it has been an unnegotiable commandment for engineers and designers to buy the latest, souped-up powerful computers just to handle their CAD system. No more. For schools and students on a tight budget, this breakthrough couldn’t have come soon enough.

Educator Feedback from MIT, Yale & ESAD

Yale University is one of 800 universities and colleges where students are embracing the benefits of full-cloud Onshape.

Onshape is easy to teach and learn. With workflows similar to other professional 3D CAD systems, knowledge and skills learned in Onshape are easily transferrable in the workplace – regardless of an employer’s preferred CAD system.

Technical instructor Andy MacInnis, who teaches the Materials and Methods Workshop for the MIT Integrated Design & Management Program, says his students have experienced a quick learning curve with Onshape.

“It’s very intuitive. Compared to some other CAD systems, it was easier by far for students to find solutions just by using Onshape’s online tutorials and the help button,” he says.

“I love the collaboration feature. It’s great for having multiple people look at the same model while it’s being manipulated. You can show a group of students how to do something without them straining their eyes to see the cursor on a projection board 30 feet away. Everyone can follow along on their own screens,” he adds. ”We’re only just discovering what Onshape can do for us.”

At Yale University, instructor Thomas Kwan (pictured at the top of this blog) reports saving significant time with Onshape in his “Green Engineering and Sustainable Design” class.

“With traditional CAD, our students first had to wait for a large download, and then a lengthy install and licensing process just to get them to the first screen,” he says. “With Onshape, which runs in a web browser, they’re up and running in minutes.”

At Portugal’s ESAD College of Art & Design, Prof. Michael Marcondes is equally enthusiastic about the growing role of full-cloud CAD at his school.

“Onshape is a game changer for students and aspiring product designers. It empowers them by minimizing the learning curve and financial impact of bringing an idea to life,” he says. “I can’t wait to see what our students will do with it.“

We can’t wait to see what your students create either! To learn more about the Onshape Education Plan, visit our new Education page.

(Photo Credits: Sarah Kwan and David McCarthy)