Imagine you are searching for a job in your engineering career. Boeing sounds amazing, but you have no idea how to use Catia, the CAD system they have used for the last 28 years. You would love to design cars for GM, Chrysler, or Mazda but you never learned how to use NX. There are many more CAD systems like Solidworks, Inventor, ProEngineer: why didn't we ever learn how to use these CAD systems?
There are so many options when selecting a CAD system, which CAD system should you learn?
If you all ready know which company you would like to work for, simply search online to find out which CAD system they use. However, for the 99% of us who don't know which company we are going to work for after we graduate, we need a different approach.
I am currently a college student working part time at an engineering company, and I know that CAD system skills are valuable. I have taken CAD classes in college, and was taught a variety of systems. At work, I use ProEngineer totaling 1000+ hours in design work. But is learning the wrong system going to hurt me? What if I don't end up at a company that uses the CAD system that I learned?
It doesn't matter! The secret is that I have learned how to learn CAD systems. Regardless of where I go, I will quickly get up to speed on the system. How did I do this?
First I learned the fundamentals of 3D CAD modeling. My CAD class had us build the same computer fan in 3 different CAD systems. This taught me to not focus on the CAD system, but the basics of 3D modeling. Many people may not be currently enrolled in an engineering degree. This definitely does not mean you are stuck. I found that YouTube is a great resource for helpful tutorial videos. I learned about extrudes, revolves, sweeps, chamfers, rounds, and many more 3D modeling basics. For example:
Get the fundamentals down, and then learning a new system is quite easy. All of the CAD systems have the same types of features. They can all extrude, or do revolves, or change the color of the surfaces etc. To learn a new CAD system, all you have to do is just learn where the buttons are to make those features. A lot of CAD systems these days even have a search bar in the corner of the screen. This makes it very simple to just type in the feature and have the program tell you the path to that button.I started in ProEngineer, but have become skilled in Catia, NX6, and Inventor. The key is that I learned how to learn CAD systems. Now when I look for jobs, I am confident that no matter what CAD system they have, I can quickly learn it. I will be able to design anything from airplanes, to cars, to whatever this is.
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