At Haas, I’m studying the way mechanical engineering students think about their design software. Design software companies are seeking new ways to penetrate the education market. How do students learn about design software? Do “green” design features matter to students when choosing their tools?

The #1 factor influencing a student’s decision on design software is the professor’s recommendation. But while students look to their professors initially, many find their knowledge of the software quickly surpasses that of instructors. This effect seems more pronounced amongst students with a sustainability focus. And the gap is growing. Students are talking. Students interested in sustainable design increasingly look to blogs, websites, social networks, competitions, and personal projects to increase their proficiency. Design software companies are noticing this change – and are seeking better partnerships with educators and stronger interactions with students via social media. Mechanical engineers graduating today share some similarities with their predecessors when choosing software (low cost, ease of use) but they’re increasingly interested in sustainability and other measures as well, and that’s something that software design companies are actively looking to tap into!

—kandra