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Computer Aided Design, the challenges of mastering the discipline in the workplace

Updated on October 22, 2013

Computer Aided Design, overview

CAD Operators

Computer Aided Design/Drafting has almost completely replaced drafting in the engineering design world. Many engineers now do their own CAD work. Yet there is still a place for specialized CAD operators.

CAD operators are generally viewed as skilled technicians and are paid accordingly.

I have seen many people struggle with Computer Aided Design since the mid-eighties when CAD began to supplant drafting. In the early nineties I worked as a CAD teacher and helped people transition their thinking from pencil or pen drafting to computer based drafting.

The State of the Industry

I was amazed and appalled at the lack of design knowledge and unawareness of the rudimentary layout of a part in a drawing format displayed by people who had been in the upper levels of engineering.

Equally amazing was the lack of practical applications of the disciplines taught at the university level shown by graduates of engineering programs.

In my experience however I was not so surprised by the lack of understanding shown by non-technical management and marketing people. There is an expectation that the CAD operator can press a button and the computer will generate a part and that part can be quickly manipulated into glossy showpieces that are ready for marketing brochures and PowerPoint presentations. Despite being told repeatedly that this involves much more work and take more time than they expect, they keep making the same assumptions and demands, which is that they need instant results of a high order.

The marketing people mean well, but they are busy, preoccupied and focused on the next New Thing and how to sell it. They and management expect results not excuses.

My Background

My background is Research and Development. I have worked in electronics, the automotive industry, the Defense Industry, commercial aircraft and maritime systems for many years.

My goal here is to use my experience to help people understand the dynamics of an engineering work environment in the context of producing design documentation.

I will focus on CAD design, discussing those technical elements and interpersonal relationships that are the reality of working in such an environment.

CAD Usage

If you work with Computer Aided Design how much of your workday time is devoted to it?

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Who Are You?

What role do you play on the design team?

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