Heads up- this is a long one
I have been working with CAD since the early 1980’s-ish. I have been teaching engineering and programming, and practicing as an engineer, for well over 30 years, though my scope of practice has shifted a fair bit= I initially was in semiconductor design/fab. Since the mid 1990’s, better than half of my professional life has been teaching. I currently teach (over the course of a year) introductory engineering (CAD/CAM is a large part), as well as introductory programming and data structures, physics, and multivariable calculus, and am the welding engineer (as well as safety, other engineering) for a marine contractor specializing in structural and steam plant repair. I have lead an interesting life to get here.
Inventor versioning isn’t that big of an issue, overall. For lockdown/remote teaching this year, I, fortunately, had 2020 on my machine, as I updated my ed license a year ago june. If circumstances continue, the support personnel, as of may, said that it will be addressed for education licenses. It hasn’t been an issue for the professional license, if you care to pay for it (mine is paid for by the employer, but only features we need. For hobby work, I use the ed license. For paid work, the pro. Different computers are involved to keep a clear line and avoid liability issues)
Fusion versioning is just annoying, as the updates come with no warning, seem to be asynchronous (so you may not get it for a while), and the process is SLLLLOOOOOWWWWW. Fusion is just a pain. The feature changes, resource sucking, and so on. Yet, existing bugs, and existing half-implemented features remain unaddressed. For a hobby user, it is a very, very powerful tool that beats pretty much anything else at the free or inexpensive price point. For the ed market, the bugs, lag, hangups, and partial features are a detriment. I won’t touch it in my professional life, and don’t know anyone that will in the world I work in.
One benefit: It runs on hardware Inventor won’t. Given the choice, Inventor all of the way. It isn’t always a viable option, though. (I would also like to be able to address Autocad with students, especially the civil engineering edition, but time is what it is.)
I had a single student this spring that had no machine available that could run inventor. He used Fusion. A couple borrowed hardware (gotta thank the local community for this- several local businesses really helped here) but this kid couldn’t get anything that would support inventor. The machine would run Fusion, though, so he went with that. The differences in capability were very apparent.
Rough number: 15 hours per week making curriculum. Normally I would have the students, in class, using measuring tools, making sketches themselves on paper, doing the models in Inventor and detailing them, then doing drawings in Inventor. The same general workflow as typical in the real world when dealing with existing parts (I work there, don’t tell me that isn’t how it is. A couple years ago I handed a parent that knew better an RFQ I dealt with, because he knew better. He shut up. The best is when a client or vendor sends only an autocad or inventor model, rather than drawings. That doesn’t match the physical artifact. Especially when that artifact is a 320m long container ship. Fun times)
I had to cover the first two steps-measure and sketch-, as well as provide instruction for the software tools, in written and video form. There really isn’t a lot out there that is good. Most of the official material covers single tools so narrowly that they are not useful for a beginning student, and much of the rest teaches really bad habits (make a sketch and include every feature with fixed dimension, rather than treat the features independently- like it will be made- and use appropriate relationships and parameters). If correct, robust, models are going to be made, you need to do it right (“Oh, we need a fixture for that turbine rotor as well. You should be able to get that done by lunch, right?” is something I have been told. Ya. There’s no difference between a 100KW and 40MW turbine… Right… ) So, I wrote roughly 800 pages (with images) and 40 hours of video, none of which I have rights to.
I spent another ten hours redoing everything for Fusion, and had to cut out some key tools and skills, as fusion doesn’t support them. For example, making detail views in drawings (fusion only supports circular fences) and modelling helical features. Fairly basic tools, but nonexistant or barely functional. I will give fusion the selection to actually model the thread as a feature (inventor doesn’t do this) which is really handy for 3D printing. It would be nice if Inventor had this.
All of that said, I prefer SolidWorks. But that is not seen in the real world for interchange, and not really practical for the education side due to cost and entrenchment. Autodesk got the ed market many years ago the same way that drug dealers get clients. The products are generally satisfactory enough that better products don’t displace them, and the company seems to know this, but also seems to know that they have to keep at it.