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Iwan and Bryn share CAD knowledge in Las Vegas

The Coleg Menai engineering lecturers were invited to talk about their use of cutting-edge design and manufacturing technology at the prestigious Autodesk University 2023 Conference

Two Coleg Menai lecturers shared their knowledge of cutting-edge CAD technology at a conference in Las Vegas.

Iwan Roberts and Bryn Jones were invited to talk at the Autodesk University 2023 Conference, attended by more than 10,000 people from across the world.

Autodesk is a world-leading company creating software for film special effects, manufacturing and design, and construction.

Iwan and Bryn use its Fusion 360 software to train students in computer-aided design (CAD) and manufacturing at Coleg Menai’s Llangefni campus.

They have also used it to train students for competitions - leading to huge success at this month’s WorldSkills UK finals, with Osian Roberts winning gold in CNC Turning, and Eva Voma bronze in additive manufacturing.

Autodesk have been so impressed by their use of the platform, they asked Iwan and Bryn to lecture at the tech giant’s annual conference.

The engineering lecturers gave their insight into Fusion 360 in a session called ‘Re-imagining Education for the Future Workforce’, in a packed-out hall at the luxury Venetian Resort.

Bryn said: “It was amazing. We had done a webinar for Autodesk, and were asked to deliver that webinar on stage in front of hundreds of educators from across the US and the UK.

“We spoke about planning a project using Autodesk software, how AI can be integrated into education, and also how we can promote diversity and inclusion - especially getting girls involved in engineering.”

This was the second time Iwan and Bryn had visited the conference, after Autodesk sponsored them to attend last year’s event in New Orleans as a continuing professional development opportunity to advance their skills further in the design and manufacturing industry.

So they were well placed to return to the Autodesk conference as expert speakers this time around.

They shared the stage in Vegas with Carla Herrero, a design engineer for the Mercedes Formula One team, Matt Erbach, a manufacturing and engineering teacher from Chicago, Nate Baker, a lecturer from Washington, Andrew Hewitt, head of design & technology at Aston University Engineering Academy, and Natalie Staines, senior director of education marketing for Autodesk.

Iwan said of Fusion 360: “It’s a great platform to prepare our students for a multi-skilled industry, where they often need to be able to design and make to an advanced standard. Hence why we use Fusion 360 for our Skills Wales and WorldSkills competition provisions.

“It’s very user-friendly software and myself and Bryn have been exploring it as much as we can, in particular generative design - an iterative design exploration process, giving the software loads and constraints to generate suitable and unique structures that we couldn’t begin to think how to design previously.

“Up to degree level, we try to utilise all of what the software has to offer, including stress analysis, pressure-testing CAD design skills, advanced CNC manufacturing and inspection techniques. All of these have huge benefits for the staff and students when using this cloud-based software with unlimited credits for education.”

As well as delivering their own session during three packed days in Vegas, Iwan and Bryn attended other lectures, and networked with delegates from across the globe.

“Some of the lectures were reinforcing what we were doing with the software already,” said Bryn. “So it was a confidence thing rather than a learning thing.

“We were networking with people from universities such as King’s College London and Loughborough,” said Bryn. “Because we’d been before and knew a lot about the software, we were getting asked a lot of questions - so you had educators from big cities like Chicago, New York and Vegas getting advice from two lads from Anglesey!”

Iwan and Bryn also attended a talk by Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool star and co-owner of Wrexham Football Club.

“That was very inspiring,” said Bryn. “You think of him as this massive A-lister, but when you hear him talk you realise he’s a very astute businessman.”

Iwan and Bryn are now back from Vegas, but it’s just the beginning of Coleg Menai’s relationship with Autodesk, who recently donated a one-of-a-kind 3D printer to the college.

The huge machine, which was built in conjunction with Warwick University, now has pride of place in the engineering department in Llangefni.

Want to learn more about the exciting world of engineering with Grŵp Llandrillo Menai? Find out more about our exciting courses here.