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    Give Students an Engineer’s Perspective Through the Next “Make It Big” Webinar

    Kellyanne Mahoney
    Published on - March 15, 2021 by Kellyanne Mahoney

    Inspiration, Contests & Challenges

    living wall copy

    What’s a building in your community that you love? Why does it work for your community?

    For football star James Develin, it’s the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with its 72 steps made famous by the fictional sports hero who used them as a metaphor for rising to the challenge.

    “It’s the Rocky steps,” said James during February’s “Make It Big” webinar. “I love the Roman pillars out front. It’s just a grand building off to the side of the heart of the city. All roads kind of lead there.” James added that he loves the building so much, he even proposed to his wife there.

    This was a theme throughout the episode, that buildings have meaning for us when they work for the specific locations and the communities where they are located. 

    James Episode 3
    You can catch up on past episodes here.

    “And that’s the engineering mindset in a nutshell,” said James, who studied mechanical engineering in college. “To figure out how to do things, and how to do things better.”

    The grand prize winners of the first student design challenge were also featured. In congratulating the winners, James discussed how he is beginning to incorporate some of their ideas into his own design for a gym he is planning to build, including adding a track on the second level, a long set of stairs that can be used for training, and a room with cold plunge pools and hot tubs.

    gym design

    Register for the next episode here.

    He also talked about hurdles he is facing in his project, including finding the right location, and modifications he will need to make to his design in order to improve the gym’s impact on the environment and its access for people with disabilities.

    Without a set location yet, he asked: “How am I going to provide my services to the community to get the community outreach going?” One idea he shared was to test out the concept of a mobile gym in a modular vehicle with “[folded] racks and rigs off the side.” It would carry equipment to deliver his services to his clients and the surrounding community until he finds the right permanent home for the gym.

    This set the stage for the newest #AutodeskMakeItReal student design challenge to use an engineering mindset and computational thinking to help James make his design work. Prizes include a $500 gift card that could be used to purchase a 3D printer, a computer, an ipad bundle, or a VR headset, for example. 

    Another highlight of the episode was a presentation by special guest Zahkia Grant of EcoRise, who discussed how to construct a living wall in order to add beauty and function to the gym’s design.


    Presenters from Autodesk also shared tips on how to use technology to make a design work, including how to make a set of adjustable stairs in Tinkercad Codeblocks, how to conduct energy and solar analysis in Formit, and how to design a landscape in AutoCAD

    Screen Shot 2021-03-12 at 8.34.57 PM

    Students and educators are encouraged to join the next episode on Thursday, where they will be introduced to a diverse panel of engineers and designers who are innovating the built environment.

    This is a chance for students to ask questions to James and the panel that will bring their skills to the next level. They will also find out how college student Emma Manning of Wentworth Insitute of Technology is combining entrepreneurship and design to make her concept for a gym for people with autism a reality.

    You can register here.