Realizing the challenges of the existing commercial CAD (computer aided design) software from an academic perspective, Solomon Menashi, CEO; and Jennie Yoder CTO, founded BlocksCAD and created the BlocksCAD for Education platform to address the needs that teachers and students encounter when using 3D printers and makerspaces.
Adopting the novel approach of employing block-based coding, Menashi and Yoder designed a state-of-the-art parametric CAD software tool to assist students in making 3D models while also helping teachers integrate CAD into existing math, coding, and science curriculum. “Our unique value proposition lies in empowering educators to enhance their teaching with 3D printers, whereby we effectively bridge the gap between the engagement that technology offers and student learning,” states Menashi.
Because it can be used with younger students (3rd - 8th grade), BlocksCAD develops a mathematical & computational mindset at a young age and helps lay an intuitive sense of computer science. Students code their own models that can be printed on any 3D printer. What makes BlocksCAD appealing is its ease of use—the block-based tool can be used by students as young as eight years old to create simple geometric models while also supporting sophisticated designs based on functions, logic, loops, and modules to challenge students in high school and beyond.
BlocksCAD is a cloud-based, device-neutral, interface that can be accessed from Chromebook, MacBook, tablet, laptop, and desktop. “Students can build models on our website and save them in the pre-provided cloud storage and can access them from any device or location with just an internet connection. BlocksCAD is also 3D printer agnostic, wherein the images are saved in a format that is compatible with any 3D printer,” explains Menashi.
Our unique value proposition is that we empower educators to enhance their teaching with 3D printers, whereby we effectively bridge the gap between the engagements that technology offers and student learning
The BlocksCAD for Education product provides an educator with standards-aligned curriculum, classroom management features and actionable data functionalities that help them support student learning. In addition, BlocksCAD offers multiple professional development and training options to support schools and districts.
Menashi illustrates a pilot with the Boston Public School district where BlocksCAD was used as a tool for both 3D printing and coding. Teachers were able to leverage personal development opportunities and implement BlocksCAD widely in their classrooms. The BlocksCAD software is helping Boston schools succeed in driving significant student engagement through their initiative to integrate more hands-on learning in their education system.
Forging a compelling success path, BlocksCAD is looking to extend their platform with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) education integration to create and design models with the BlocksCAD and export those directly into VR environments. “We are also looking to grow internationally and are currently working with companies in Spain and Germany to help support BlocksCAD in their schools. We have around 80,000 users all over the world with multiple language support as well,” asserts Menashi.