Brian Farrimond has created an AEC program program so easy to use that nine year olds are using it. This program is fully 3D and is parametric. Furthermore, it will sell for under $50*. Unlike, many bulky CAD programs of today, it will be a 4MB download and can run off the CD (without installation).
I watched Brian demo the program at the recent CAD '07 conference. In 5 minutes he had most of a building created as well as many of the details. Walls, roofs and other features were adjusted easily with slider bars.
There is one catch. This AEC program is rather specialized. It can only make churches. For now. Plans are underway to make a version that can design castles though it might push the minimum age up to 11 year olds.
What if you don't design castles or churches? How about ships? The program would be a bit more complicated but it could be done. I get the impression that the team in Liverpool could produce the same fantastically easy to use program to make post offices, malls, furniture, what have you. "It would only take resources," says Brian.
Brian, along with Janette Bonar Law, both from Liverpool Hope University in the UK, created Church Builder after they sensed a need for a low cost, easy to use and install design program that would fit into the UK National Curriculum. "Kids are already 3D native," says Brian. However, many teachers know little of current technology and UK schools often don't have adequate computer resources. "We have schools still using Windows 98," says Brian. The current crop of BIM programs such as MicroStation, ArchiCAD or Revit would be out of reach.
"Why churches?" I ask. Every community has one, says Brian. Also, they are usually the oldest building around, and it part of the history lessons for 7-11 year olds. The easy access and familiarly to the church also gives the student a sense of accomplishment, being able to create something that all who view would recognize.
For more information, you can contact Brian Farrimond at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Software has not been released and price not determined but should be in the $30-$50 range.