Samueli Academy Virtualizes CAD Software for Student Chromebooks

Samueli Academy, a public charter high school in California, has implemented virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technology to let students access computer-aided design (CAD) software from their Chromebooks.

The school is operated by the Orangewood Foundation, an organization that provides services for youth in foster care, and the school serves both foster and community youth. Samueli Academy has a 1-to-1 technology initiative providing every student with a Chromebook and an instructional philosophy that emphasizes technology and project-based learning. The school also partners with the University of California Irvine (UCI) to offer engineering and design pathways aligned with the school's curriculum.

In 2016, the school launched a course to teach students how to use SolidWorks 3D CAD design software. Since the software can't be installed on Chromebooks, the school partnered with Zumasys — a provider of cloud computing and application infrastructure — to implement a Citrix-based VDI platform. The Orangewood Foundation has had a four-year relationship with Zumasys through Zumasys' Happyness is a Choice corporate giving program, and the VDI implementation extends that relationship to the school's technology program.

The Citrix VDI platform runs on a cache-accelerated storage tier from Nimble Storage. The SolidWorks 3D CAD design software runs on the server, and students can access it remotely through their Chromebooks. "Students enjoy great SolidWorks performance on their Chromebooks thanks to Nimble's cache-accelerated storage tier," stated a news release from  Zumasys.

"Nimble Storage and Zumasys were able to understand our requirements and build a solution to best meet our needs," said Philip Thai, director of IT for the Orangewood Foundation, in a prepared statement. "For an environment of our size, there's nothing like the performance that Nimble Storage provides in the same price range."

Based on the success of the VDI implementation, the school plans to extend its virtual desktop infrastructure to 100 students in its engineering, design and Photoshop classes.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].