We have teamed with Autodesk and Suffolk Construction to build a program for middle schoolers to explore the Future of Construction and show a career pathway that includes a variety of technology that is used today, as well as what’s in store for the future. Working with Boston Public Schools and the Excellence for All program, a class of 5th grade students from the Harvard-Kent School were chosen to participate in our Design.Build.Apply program pilot.

The program began with an introductory classroom lesson that included a high-level overview of the intersection of construction and STEM. Students were given a preview of the program partners and the workshops that each would hold at their respective sites.

The first field trip was held at The Boston Autodesk Technology Center where students learned to “Design” with Autodesk’s Tinkercad. Tinkercad is a free easy-to-use app for 3D design, electronics, and coding. It’s used by teachers, kids, hobbyists, and designers to imagine, design, and make anything! Students also enjoyed a tour of the Center’s workspace whose focus is on research and development in the area of innovation in architecture, engineering, and construction. The Autodesk Technology Center invites teams from startups, universities, and industry to explore ways to advance the building industry. Students saw firsthand some of the entrepreneurs in action, designing and building their prototypes.

We held the “Build” portion of the program at MassRobotics. Students used our LittleBits components to build creations that they designed. LittleBits is a hands-on learning system of electronic building blocks that allows students to create with technology. The snap-together Bits are easy to use and simple to understand with no prior experience required. Thanks to the Timothy Smith Network who provided us these valuable resources.

The students spent some time in the MassRobotics Lab and workshop, receiving demos of the shared collaborative arms and grippers and learning about the NASA Valkyrie robot.

This week the students will visit the Suffolk Construction headquarters in Boston MA. Students will learn how innovative technology is being “Applied” and construction is being transformed by this trail blazing company. They’ll explore Suffolk’s innovation center and SmartLab including Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) room – and understand the future including 3D printing, robotic bricklaying, inspection. Look for photos on twitter next week!

We’ll host one final wrap-up session in the classroom where students can share what they learned. We hope they will have a better understanding of how tech is evolving, and not in the fields where you would expect.

Thanks to all our Partners for moving this pilot program forward – Autodesk, BPS, City of Boston, MassRobotics, Suffolk Construction, Timothy Smith Network. We look forward to bringing this program to many more students in the future.