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GM: Designing Collaboratively with an Alien Mind

Autodesk visits the Director of Additive Design and Manufacturing at General Motors to learn how new tools are pushing the bounds on what parts can look like by allowing human designers to reach beyond their imagination through partnering with A.I. In conjunction with 3D printing, dramatically different – and radically different looking – solutions that meet challenging manufacturing and ecological demands are being created quickly. This, in turn, allows for fast testing, refinement and, ultimately, deployment at massive scale of very forward-thinking components.

Assignment Idea: Revolutionize the Ordinary


The ability to think critically is an important attribute for individuals in advanced manufacturing. Asking questions and identifying possible causes and probable solutions is an important part of the process. What factors influence the manufacturing processes and decisions?

More about Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing refers to the technologies that build 3D objects by adding layer-upon-layer of material to the build. This material could be plastic, metal, concrete or, in the future, possibly human tissue. End products are being used in the medical and dental fields, aerospace, automotive and the fashion industry and, in all applications, are both disrupting and expanding what and how vital components are designed.

Think of a real-world problem and the current solution(s). How could you redefine the current solution(s) to improve upon it and provide a radically different design solution using additive manufacturing? What could be designed and developed? How could it be tested? If necessary how could it be refined? How would it be deployed?

Possible ideas could include:

  • Identifying safety hazards in and around a home then designing and developing a device for infant and toddlers safety.
  • Redesign packaging for a product that demonstrates plastic or paper waste in its current presentation.
  • Design a safe tire tread that can withstand high mileage and stand up to rain and snow.

Subject Areas

Engineering, Nursing, Sustainability


  • short, research-based paper
  • 2D sketch of solution/redesign
  • 3D model of solution/redesign (optional)
  • short video pitching new offering (optional)
  • presentation to class