The 3D technology is no longer something to experience only in cinemas and through video games.
New software now brings 3D to the classrooms where it can actually be used in various disciplines, such as engineering, architecture and information technology.
Dassault Systèmes (DS), a French company that provides 3D and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software solutions, has introduced the use of three-dimensional technology in education through its CATIA virtual design software.
Thierry Chevrot, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Versailles in France, believes it is natural for today’s young students to work on a project using 3D because of their exposure to the technology through video games.
This early exposure to the 3D experience serves as a “motivation for students” to learn more about its other applications in their respective disciplines and “produce real projects” that can be adopted or used by different industries, says Chevrot.
The professor worked for 10 years “to bridge the gap between the industry and universities in France” after deciding to put PLM at the center of his university’s mechanical engineering core curricula.
Chevrot purchased CATIA in 2001 and “analyzed processes… to extract generic methodologies and best practices” in the industry.
He then adapted the “methodology and best practices” at the university through a system called “recontextualization,” a teaching tool that adapts processes used in companies for use in the classroom.
Chevrot says, through this method, students not only get to apply what they learn in actual settings but also give them a competitive advantage in the job market.
Chevrot’s students at Mantes Institute of Technology in France have developed several CATIA-based projects like a robot with artificial intelligence, a model jet fighter, high-definition renderings of the gaming platform Wii, concept cars, the architectural design of a college church, a guitar generator for e-business and Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions in 3D.
But Chevrot admits learning the software is not that easy. He says students need to be constantly motivated to learn. A skill in managing complexities is required to master the use of 3D technology, he adds.
The use of CATIA is not limited to designing objects, says Chevrot. It can also be used in product testing, which is essential for big companies that are DS clients—Boeing and Procter & Gamble, for instance—that want to make sure new things are safe and operational before they hit the market. The 3D technology helps engineers, designers and inventors to see flaws or errors through trials in the virtual world.
CATIA has 150 modules that universities can choose from, depending on which program or course will use the software. DS gives discounts to schools that will buy the license for the software. Experts will train academics from the client school and will be available for consultation after the sale.
“Our objective is to provide our clients with a powerful platform, which uses the universal language of 3D and the web as the user interface, to help them connect the dots for a game-changing increase in end-user value,” said Monica Menghini, DS executive vice president for industry, marketing and corporate communications.