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Part 4: Autodesk technology and the School 125 Community Plumbing Challenge

The School 125 Community Plumbing Challenge was an impressive real-world example of how students can leverage modern technology, sustainable design principles, and collaboration to make a big impact on a community.  In the challenge, Autodesk Student Experts and four international student teams came together to design a new water-saving and environmentally sustainable plumbing solution for School 125 in Nashik, India.  In creating their solution, they used a range of Autodesk software to ensure their design solution was sustainable and easily scalable so that other communities could benefit from their designs.

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Students working together on designs for the sanitation facilities.  Photo courtesy of IAPMO.

“I was always fascinated and curious about the process that follows from sketch to reality. That's when I got to know about 3D design and its prowess,” says Kaustubh Cowshik, one of the Autodesk Student Experts who participated in the challenge.  The students started by modeling School 125 in Autodesk Revit, a Building Information Modeling (BIM) software that allowed them to visualize walkthroughs of the new facilities to be built on site.  Another group of students used Autodesk Fusion 360, a cloud-based 3D modeling software, to model the new components that would be used in the plumbing facilities, such as the tap fittings and water containers.  They also used Fusion 360 to create functional models of the taps which were then imported into Autodesk Inventor Publisher to make interactive instructional videos that could be used to teach the students at the school how to use the new facilities correctly, as well as provide maintenance procedures and advice for the school staff.  Finally, the students put everything together with Autodesk Showcase, by making renderings of the Revit and Fusion 360 designs.

Fusion 360 saves design data in the cloud, allowing multiple people to work together on one project from anywhere in the world.  “I used Fusion 360 to model the taps and Showcase to visualize them.  Fusion 360, being a new software, was surprisingly easy to learn and apply” says Kaustubh.  3D modeling software allowed the students to work quickly and collaboratively to create accurate models that could be easily assembled from locally sourced materials.  As Kaustubh puts it, “3D design requires a great deal of balance in design and engineering understanding to get a good result.  Translation of the design intent without losing technical feasibility is of utmost importance.”  The concept of balancing the intent of the design with the technical feasibility was very important in ensuring the design solution the students created was sustainable.  By using a range of CAD software, the students ensured that the computer generated design would exactly reflect the final build, thereby eliminating any material waste.  The videos they were able to create also ensures that their designs are scalable and can be used by other communities.

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Comparing models of building equipment with the physical components.  Photo  courtesy of IAPMO.

The technology and workflows the students used in the Community Plumbing Challenge are the same ones professional design teams use every day.  “Every moment of the project was a new learning experience,” says Kaustubh.  Through the Community Plumbing Challenge, the students not only learned software and design skills, but they illustrated amazing teamwork and collaboration to make an impact on the lives of 400 children in the Nashik community.  

Read Part 3 of this series to learn about the women behind the Community Plumbing Challenge