CAD is a tool, a very powerful tool for engineers and a very expensive investment to employers. This means it is commonplace that to become a professional engineer, a certificate (Bachelors of Engineering or Masters of Engineering) is required. However, is it the same for CAD?
Often job descriptions require CAD certificates as a prerequisite for the job, however, why is this the case? The reason is simple, it is to show competency in the relevant software. Another reason is that often to be certified in a relevant CAD certificate, you may be required to complete a set amount of hours working with that software (Up to 1200 hours). This is often part of the certificate that demonstrates experience to a prospective employer.
Example of a CAD certificate from Dassault Systemes
The problem with this system is that an engineer either needs to be employed and sponsored through a course or to self-fund a course. A subsequent issue, alongside being very experience, of self funding a CAD course is that it is very difficult to get actual industry experience, however, if an employer is sponsoring this course, the engineer can go back into the workplace and apply the tools and techniques learned and demonstrate this competency.
This is a question I get asked regularly. How can I obtain industry CAD experience without a CAD certificate or through applying CAD to “real life” jobs. In my opinion, the training courses are very overpriced for what you actually get out of them. This material is all over the internet and in coming weeks, Engineering First Principles Ltd, will be providing innovative training that can then be applied to “real life” applications. Stay tuned for more on our website! It will be coming soon!
So, to answer the question at hand, no I don’t believe CAD courses are value added qualifications. A huge amount of my experience is self taught however I have been fortunate enough to be able to apply this in both the automotive and aerospace industries. My recommendation for those in a situation where they are unsure of how to obtain the necessary experience that employers are looking for is to learn the software, learn every tool available within the software and design components that will come up when you enter industry. This is not about looking at the high level systems such as a full automobile or aeroplane (many courses only focus on this) but focussing on individual components such as bumpers, trim components or stiffened ribs inside a plane wing for example. The focus should not be on obtaining the correct shape but applying what you have learned in university (material science, solid mechanics etc.) to ensure that designs you create a designed with integrity and meet potential technical specifications that WILL crop up in industry.
Additionally, keep a portfolio of designs, not only a 3D Digital Mock-Up but also the technical drawing and data that can be taken to prospective employers in an interview to show not only are you a competent engineer, but also a harder worker, as you have been able to train yourself and apply the problems to “real life” examples. At the end of the day anybody can create a visually appealing mock-up with limited training but only competent engineers can do this with design integrity.
Example of a technical drawing within Catia V5 from howENGINEERSdoit!
If you have any further questions or require advice please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are happy to listen and help where appropriate. In the meantime stay tuned on the website for real life applied engineering examples.
All the best and keep on innovating,
Engineering First Principles