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Engineers and CAD

Engineers and CAD

Engineers and CAD

I am curious about engineers general relationships with CAD across various industries.

Personally, I have been involved in the energy, industrial and mining sectors. In all cases I had not touched CAD. It is seen as a waste of resources for an engineer to use CAD when you can get a drafter/designer to do it at a much lower cost.

The closest I have gotten to it is when I get a drafter to export a model over for me to do an analysis on it.

It sort of surprised me to see on this site guys with sigs that have something like Professional/Design Engineer and then the version of the CAD package they are using. I realise that in some industries such as manufacturing it is advantagous to have engineers using CAD, but to what extent?

There have been threads here about engineers worried about becoming 'CAD jockeys', or drafters bascially. I guess this is just so far removed from my experiences I was just after other peoples experiences and thoughts with regards to engineers and CAD.

Ok, I know similar threads to this one have been discussed, but they all seemed to be closed when I searched for them.

RE: Engineers and CAD

I know enough about cad to be able to drive it. but i don't in general draft my projects, this would be handled by a draftsmen.  

Arguing with an engineer is like wrestling with a pig in mud. After a while you realize that them like it

RE: Engineers and CAD

I know enough about cad to be able to print off a drawing.

I would challenge the much lower cost drafter claim, until recently my senior structural tracer (AKA 'drafter') was earning more than me.

RE: Engineers and CAD


I guess I should qualify my statement. In my current company I earn approximately 2 to 3 times that of a drafter with the same level of experience.

I have no doubt the senior drafters earn more than me.

RE: Engineers and CAD

apsix love the quote

senior structural tracer (AKA 'drafter')

To true, to often.  

Arguing with an engineer is like wrestling with a pig in mud. After a while you realize that them like it

RE: Engineers and CAD

I have had a job where I spent a fair amount of time developing the product in cad, as a solid model. This was checked by me for functionality and strength, and then I threw it over the wall to my CAD guys so we could get parts made.

But that was a product where volume and strength were of paramount importance, so a solid model was of direct relevance.



Greg Locock

SIG:Please see FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

RE: Engineers and CAD

I've had a job where I was the low-paid engineer doing CAD in a herd of better-paid contract designers.  Did a few kilohours of that.  Then I had a job where I was the low-paid engineer doing analysis and simulation, and occasionally getting to take a CAD vacation in a herd of better-paid engineers doing CAD.  Turns out it's sometimes faster to have the same guy model and analyze a bracket... Then I got a job where a contract guy did all the CAD, and all I had to do was sip my pepsi and poke at the screen.  Then I got a job where I had to lead a team of people who poked at screens, and I only occasionally had a chance to poke at them myself.  Then I got a job leading a group of people who led people who poked at acreens... and then I moved to an office where almost nobody has used CAD, except perhaps in college.  Then I bought myself a "home use" copy of pro-e and started modeling bits and pieces for hobby-related projects, so that I could have a local machine shop fab 'em up.  F'ing hell is it hard to do a proper detail drawing all by yourself with no standards, templates, checkers, etc.  Certainly harder than doing it at work was, or how I remember it was.


RE: Engineers and CAD

I am a mechanical engineer and (all modesty aside) a CAD power-user.  For product design, this works well.  Being adept at CAD makes it possible for me to express ideas that I could not otherwise.

CAD is my palette.  I can thrash ideas around, unconstrained by any limitations of how to actually model what I want.  I am also free from trolls who want to tell me somethng will take three times longer than it should because I "don't understand how tricky it is".

batHonesty may be the best policy, but insanity is a better defense.bat
http://www.EsoxRepublic.com-SolidWorks API VB programming help

RE: Engineers and CAD

I think alot of the difference is scale.  If you are designing a plant or a complex piece of machinery it makes sense to have CAD jockeys do the grunt work for the engineers.  In my job we are a small outfit and I do all my own CAD work, but I am generally not designing anything complex.  I enjoy doing the CAD work (well I wouldn't mind someone taking my models and creating drawings) and hope to continue doing my own CAD work.  


Kirby Wilkerson

Remember, first define the problem, then solve it.

RE: Engineers and CAD

I work in the building design industry and we are heading toward the 3d models i.e. Revit.

The days of a senior engineer making mark ups and handing them to a cad jockey are over.

With the 3d Revit models, the person on the computer has to be a "pipe installer" instead of a "line drawer".  He has to have an understanding of pipe sizes, elevations, slopes, systems, etc.  He has to understand pipe materials and fitting types.  So he has to have more understanding.  He needs to be a designer instead of a drafter.

And the engineers, unless they are fairly senior, need to have a limited capacity to do this as well - except they have to understand how to use the software.  

The issue is where is the middle ground.  How experienced a drafter do you need to be able to do the input.  And how "senior" of the engineer is it too costly for them to be in the software.

I am a not a senior engineer, maybe an upper junior.  

I generally stay out of the 2d software when they are applicable on the job.  

I do the engineering (equipment sizing, coordination with other disciplines, general routing philosophy, etc.).  I have a designer who knows how to route piping, knows the pipe fittings that are appropriate and generalyy does the work in the software.

I am totally capable of, and actually prefer, working in the 3d software if required.

RE: Engineers and CAD

Some of us do both, and enjoy it.  Mind you I'm working on industrial machinery and not buildings where every bit of structure needs calculations to justify size & location.

I'll only do FEA and calculations on critical structures.  It gives me a feeling of accomplishment to see my original sketches and concepts unfold before my eyes in 3D and the real world.  That's why I do what I do.

I tell people I do what I do because of three things:  my dad, MacGyver, and Legos.  I'd honestly be bored out of my wits if all I did were calculations and didn't have the chance to get my hands dirty actually designing things, or hands-on problem solving.

James Spisich
Design Engineer, CSWP

RE: Engineers and CAD

After so many postings here about "CAD jockeys" I am curious how is the situation with electrical designers in your companies.
I am electrical designer, our speciality are control and protection systems in electric substations. Several years ago when we started with specialized CAD product (ELCAD from Aucotec) I was in difficult position to decide what to do with a lady who was the only drafter in my department. There was no work for her anymore except of punching printouts and putting them in files for sending to the client. In the same time my engineers were overloaded with work. In our business design is done directly on the computer screen. No more paper and pencil drafts to be handed to the draftsmen.
The same is with colleagues from next department who are doing primary connection design - switchyard layouts, sections, etc. Only very rare we have something roughly scetched on paper, but actual design is made directly on the PC.

It may be like this in theory and practice, but in real life it is completely different.
The favourite sentence of my army sergeant

RE: Engineers and CAD

I work for an OEM, and the differences between drafters and engineers is if they have a degree and hourly/salaried. The job description is basically the same. The engineers are typically given the project manager position, but if we are busy the "drafters" may lead some small projects as well. Typically, the "project manager" on drafter-led projects assume the role mostly as a customer contact. The drafters have taken on more complex projects when we were busy though.

In theory, the drafters do the drafting and the engineers do the checking. In practice, it all depends on who is available. If an engineer is waiting on information from a customer/vendor and has some time, they may do their own drafting and have a "drafter" check it.

I do find it amusing that estimates for projects bill drafting and engineering at different rates, and often it is the same person (getting paid the same) that is doing the work.

The rate for a drafter is about 80% of engineering.

-- MechEng2005

RE: Engineers and CAD

I think a lot of the split between drafters and engineers has alot to do with where the engineering occurs. It appears that for the mechanical side, a piece is "designed" by a drafter, and then later analized by the engineer. In the case of electrical equipment, the engineering is done during the CAD process, and there is little or n followup engineering.

RE: Engineers and CAD

Hang on, there's all kinds of terms being thrown around here willy nilly.  I've seen or heard of quite a few related terms and seen varying definitions of some of them.

Tracer - traced over the pencil on paper drawings in ink on permanent media.  This was history by the time I got into engineering though we had one old tracer as the receptionist.

Draftsman/Drafter - person who created fully dimensioned/detailed standard compliant drawings from someone elses sketches.  Often limited or no real engineering education though sometimes with an appropropriate associates or apprenticeship or HNC/HND.  Heck, some of the famous A/C designers etc of the first half of last century started out as Draftsmen.  Seems to mostly apply to 2D work though some use the title for 3D folk.

Designer - Can mean anything from the same as Draftsman to virtually same as an engineer.  May also mean an Industrial or similar Designer.  Often used as the 3D equivalent of Draftsman.  I tend to think of it as someone with engineering education but probably not bachelors or equivalent though I have no real basis for this.

Engineer - Not going there.  I'll let you use your own definitions though it's safe to say some of you will exclude folks that I'm fine with being called an engineer.

PE - as defined by the relevant state board or equivalent.

Checker - typically not a degreed engineer but very experienced Draftsman/Designer that knows drawing standards, tolerancing and has at least a basic grounding in the relevant engineering 'function' area.  

CAD Jockies/Monkey's - know all the buttons of the relevant CAD software but don't have an ounce of engineering sense, or know anything about drawing standards/conventions or tolerancing or anything useful.

At some point when CAD first came out a lot of managers decided they didn't need draftsmen or checkers or the like any more and eliminated the positions, engineers could create their own drawings and CAD eliminated mistakes (no?).  Not everywhere did this, but a good few places.  Others started to expect more 'design' out of the former Drafters - nice hand writing and a sharp pencil but no engineering capability weren't enough any more.

Then as the software became the end not the means the CAD Monkey was created, and low there was much sorrow in the land of engineering(sorry, I got all AV there for a minute).

Anyway, I have my bachelors and have had Engineer in all my official titles.  I don't have PE or equivalent.  I'll let you decide if I'm an engineer.  I do most of my own CAD work.  From conceptual 3D modelling down to detailed 2D prints that comply to relevant industry standards and are fully toleranced etc.

I've done stuff for others before, and had others do it for me.  

I found doing my own the least frustrating and the fastest in terms of calendar.  Now whether it's most efficient in terms of hourly pay V time spent I'm not sure.  Also, how much of the difficulty I had delegating it was due to my poor communication skills or their poor communication/drafting/engineering skills etc. I'll let others decide.

I'm not the sharpest tool in the box, I struggled with some of the more advanced math etc. by my degree and found the more analytical stuff hard.  However, I did OK understanding basic concepts (had to explain to someone with far better grades than I fundamentally why a wing generates lift - he now works for Airbus just so you know winky smile) and when it came to the 'design' projects etc. excelled.  My work is generally at a significantly higher level than the last few designers/drafters I've worked with, though I sometimes get lost in more technical discussions with Engineer colleagues.

So for me, doing CAD work but with an engineering intent/viewpoint works out OK.  If I'd been better at the analysis maybe I'd be making more money as a real engineer, who knows.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Engineers and CAD

expectations will vary depending on experience and industry.

I would think this is correct for the mechanical industry:
"Draftsman/Drafter - person who created fully dimensioned/detailed standard compliant drawings from someone elses sketches.  Often limited or no real engineering education though sometimes with an appropriate associates or apprenticeship or HNC/HND.  Heck, some of the famous A/C designers etc of the first half of last century started out as Draftsmen."

structural, I would expect the draftsmen to know and understand the relevant standard for drafting (I only know of three out of the twenty that i have worked with that do).

I expect them to know and understand detailing requirements for steel and concrete (ie gages of bolts, laps of steel, 10/20.

I would expect the draftsmen from my sketches to be able to expand a beam elevation to a section (numbers aren't good again, 4/20.

I might have high expectations ect, but most of these guys get paid a level near mine and get called designers (even thou they have no idea what a designer is), so I expect them to understand a lot. Just last week I had to explain what cover was to a guy that is apparently very experienced in concrete drafting.

Arguing with an engineer is like wrestling with a pig in mud. After a while you realize that them like it

RE: Engineers and CAD

Personally, I learnt the basics of Solid Works at uni, and used it in all my design projects. I thought I was pretty good at it (in the scheme of things I probably wasn't). But it doesn't seem to be the preferred package in my industry; Autocad, Microstation and AutoPlant seem to dominate. I wouldn't have a clue how to drive those things.

I must admit at crunch time on projects I can get a bit panicked with drafters getting stuff done on time, especially when I have red penned stuff three times and the same mistake keeps coming back to me (which only really happens with junior drafters though).

Just as a side; Drafter vs. Draughter. Which countries refer to them as draughters? NZ does, I would assume the UK does as well?


I am not so sure about your definitions. The drafters I have know have all been required to hold a 2 year diploma in engineering technology. Basically they learn the basic engineering principles in their specific area.

Designers can be drafters with some extra experience/education under their belts, but not necessarily. I know of one company that calls all their drafters designers as it gets them out of having to pay them 1.5 times for overtime...

As for 'CAD Jockeys', I guess we shouldn't have any as our drafters have an education, but sometimes I do wonder...


All of the stuff you listed I would expect a drafter to know. As I said above here drafters have a 2 year diploma and the line between drafter and designer is not clear.

I would expect the engineers to create the P&Ids, calculate pressure drops, size the pipe, do the stress analysis etc, but would fully expect the drafter to route the pipe and include items such as drains in the appropriate locations.

RE: Engineers and CAD

That was part of the point of my post.  There are a number of terms used for 'the people that perform tasks to create product definition data' but their definitions vary widely.

In the UK most of the folks I worked with had done an apprenticeship with hnc/hnd.  Some I would say fell on the designer side, some were fully fledged engineers degree or not and some failed to meet the lowest requirements for Draughter or even CAD monkey.

On those 2 year courses, I have the concern that the drafting aspects may be more "how to use CAD package X" rather then "How to create product documentation, using CAD package X for example".

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Engineers and CAD

"The drafters I have know have all been required to hold a 2 year diploma in engineering technology" This should be a basic requirement, would help a little, but alas not the case in my city.

However on the flip side, the few guys whom I consider to be worth their weight in gold on a project are unqualified draftees (aka 4hrs for an A1), developed their skill at work and never got formally qualified. However management/engineers made these guys work the board for the first few months of there employment, where you learnt pen setting, standards or you spent to much time reworking, unlike cad were you can just with a click of the mouse fix any little problems.

They also made the junior engineers work the board for the first two months of their employment those day, but that is another story.  

Arguing with an engineer is like wrestling with a pig in mud. After a while you realize that them like it

RE: Engineers and CAD

On the 2 year courses, I don't think there is actually much CAD involved. Its more about the basics of engineering... I think...

Here, kids are taken from highschool and given a job. They study part time, so it takes 4 to 5 years to get the 2 year diploma. Most of the CAD stuff is learnt on the job from the senior drafters.  

RE: Engineers and CAD

As a young engineer (I'm 26, so just a baby by most of the people here), I've seen drafting become more a by-product of the design.

At my first job out of college with a small company it was all site design work.  I'd do the design and layout in AutoCAD and produce full construction plans. There was no drafting department.  It was convient because I could change the location of a storm sewer inlet and adjust the grading at the same time.

With my current company I've switched to Civil 3D.  I can basically do all of my design, earthwork balance, check interference with pipes, do stormwater calcs all in the software.  I'll generally set up the plan sheets then pass them off to the drafters to make them look presentable, but often times its simply faster for me to just fix the plans then to red line them and then hand them off to the drafters.

At the same time I've been exposed to both hand drafting and CAD since I was in high school.  I learned to draft on a board and letter by hand, before I was even allowed to try and run CAD.  In college it was a single CAD course with ProE (Yes it's a mechanical software, but I was already proficient with AutoCAD) that taught me a lot about the standards and tolerances in plan production.

Now the drafting department at my current company has no functioning knowledge of engineering design.  It's a basic they draw what I scribble on the sheet.  It would be exptremely useful if I could just pass on a design and have them fill is some of the missing details, but they don't have the knowledge base to do that. Hence I can either red line and have the drafters fix it or just fix it myself and it takes about the same time as it does to red line the plans.  

I really feel that you have to have a basic understading of what you're drawing, so that can have a general feeling if something doesn't look like it should. I'm not saying that a drafter needs to know how to size pipes or do earthwork balancing, but they should know that pipes generally get larger down stream.

RE: Engineers and CAD

Quote (bpattengale):

Hence I can either red line and have the drafters fix it or just fix it myself and it takes about the same time as it does to red line the plans.

If they take the same amount of time, I would assume that redlining and explaining to the drafter would be more beneficial for the future.

If you're always redoing what's been done, and nothing is said to the drafter about it, how is he/she going to ever get better at their craft?

If you were to do something wrong over and over again, and whoever you reported to just fixed it, instead of going over it with you and explaining your mistakes--you'd never get any better.


RE: Engineers and CAD

Way back when I first started out, Jr Detailers were hired straight out of high school.  Their responsibility was to take what the engineer or designer sketched out for them and create a drawing that met applicable drafting standards.  The only thinking that they were required to do was that which would produce a good drawing.  As they gained experience they were expected to start learning more about the product, and they were promoted to Detailer, Designer, Sr Designer, and if they did not get a college degree their ceiling was pretty much limited to Checker.
CAD has pretty much done away with that.  Now, Detailers are fairly rare and designers are much more common.  The main problem with that is that not enough time or effort has been spent on creating good drawings.  To make matters worse, the best teacher for them was the Checker and his red pencil, which are now an endangered species.  So now we have designers and engineers who only produce what they have always produced until the rare occasion that their mistakes are pointed out.
Yes, you can still manufacture acceptable products from less than optimal drawings.  It is sad though that fewer and fewer are able to actually recognize an optimal drawing.

"Good to know you got shoes to wear when you find the floor." - Robert Hunter

RE: Engineers and CAD

That all boils down to knowing what everyone is capable of, and training them appropriately.  If a drafter has natural mechanical aptitude they can go a long way.  I've seen plenty of engineers who couldn't design their way out of a paper bag, I've also seen brilliant designers who have no formal education past high school.

In everything you have to train and allow growth, if you just think your drafters can't do anything other than detail a sheet then they will never do anything but that.  Not because they aren't capable, but because they won't experience and learn anything other than what's given to them.

We're all in the same boat, trying to paddle down the same stream.  Some people think they're entitled to the paddle just because they have an engineering degree.  Others can easily understand why the engineers are rowing, and learn how to row themselves, or even show them a better way to row.

I think there's the likelyhood to lose a lot of relevent experience from the workplace when the baby boomers retire because nobody wants to spend the time and money to train anyone.  It's like you have to know everything before you ever step foot on the job anymore.  That's not good for any of us.

The way CAD is now, it should be embraced as an excellent tool for visualization and documentation.  It should not be looked upon as a division of "those who have" and "those who have not".

James Spisich
Design Engineer, CSWP

RE: Engineers and CAD

I'm in the same boat as Kenat.  I have a BS and 9 years of Engineering experience in exempt industries, therefore not needing a PE certification.  I haven't worked at any large companies, most were 150 employees or less and most of them are production personnel.  At most jobs that I have held there were no CAD Jockey's.  I have been creating my own drawings, which I don't mind until I have a huge stack to create.  These are typically machined components, sheet metal, welded structural members and plastic components.   

RE: Engineers and CAD

Firstly going back to the original post I think CAD is now an everyday activity for many engineers these days. In the same way as typing out reports, doing power point presentations is. Most of now sit at a PC or laptop for much of the day and have a more rounded set of skills than was the case even a few years ago.

 If it is a waste of time and money having an engineer doing CAD or typing when it could probably be done quicker and cheaper by a draughter or typist is debateable but that is how it seems to be these days.

With regard to Draughtsperson, Designer, Cad monkey whatever you want to call them there is a huge difference, I pretty much agree with Kenats breakdown but still feel it is a very broad set of terms that cover many different level of skills. A bit like a builder that can cover anything from someone who could completely rebuild a house with many skills to a bloke with a saw a screwdriver and a hammer who might one day put a nail in straight.

RE: Engineers and CAD


By 'tracer' I meant a drafter who copies my sketches without adding meaningful value, other than aesthetics. As described by bpattengale; 'they draw what I scribble on the sheet'.

RE: Engineers and CAD

For most of my 15 years in engineering, say about 13 years, I was resposible for my own CAD work.  This included everything from modeling to detailing etc.

There had always been a very fine line between the designers and engineers.

My current employer has both designers and engineers.  They do not allow one to do the others work.  Our designers use catia, UG and autocad, while we use solidworks, and sometimes autocad, to check their work.  We give them input on the design and let them fly.  Then they might send the models to another less experienced group to detail.

It is not so bad if you have a good design group.  But I spend more time, and watch my counterparts spending alot of time, checking over every dimension on the print, making corrections on tolerances, dimension locations etc.  With CAD I could just dimension it on my own and be done faster.  Same with some of the 2D changes.  Do I really need to submit requests to a designer, have them change it, then their group checks it, so I can check it and have my group check it, for a lonely little part number change on a print?  Does frustrate me once in a while.

Models are another story.  I don't know how valuable my time would be cleaning them up...Adding draft, chamfers etc., but coming up with the basic shape would be quick and easy.

I guess I go back and forth on the issue since I came from drafting and can look at it from both sides.  

But either way I hate detailing and creating prints.  13 years was enough for me.

RE: Engineers and CAD

As a ChemE, I produce the process design using my simulator.  I generate sizes of equipment during the simulation steps.  I then take the process flow sheet and transfer to visio where I add enough information that the CAD guys can then add stuf like gauges, site glasses, control vales block and by-passes, ect.   

RE: Engineers and CAD

At one of my previous jobs, there was an engineer who was my "mentor".

He basically instilled in me the notion that a good designer (taken to mean, one who can take a concept to model then to drawing) is invaluable.

He had a designer, who was the best I've ever seen. The guy could take a lump of sh*t, and turn it into gold. Made his life that much easier.

Today, I have designer who works for me. Best investment I've ever made to my business.

Good designers are very hard to come by, so if you find one treat him/her well.


RE: Engineers and CAD

How do you check a Catia or UG drawing/model on SolidWorks?  Or are you just checking form as opposed to modeling practice?  A well modeled part reaps benefits for the life of the product, while a poorly modeled one may require much more effort every time it is revised.

"Good to know you got shoes to wear when you find the floor." - Robert Hunter

RE: Engineers and CAD

I like PEDARRIN2 am in the building industry.

Personally, I recently have been exposed to revit, for electro-mechanical building systems. I am not particularly happy with it for several reasons:

1)What is the point of modelling an entire building? It seems to me to be a waste of time. It produces a SIM-CITY level of quality/detail, it does not offer the efficiency it promises. It has value when designing a cramped space like a machine room. But it seems to add more unecessary design hours. We do not build buildings like machine parts.

2)It is way to taxing on the computer systems. Too huge a capital investment is required to make the system work. I think the push is driven by AUTOdesk and larger AE firms, knowing that they can drive smaller firms out. I heard of an Revit sales person, tell a business owner, that there would be zero RFI's on construction jobs, if they hired firms that used REVIT (What the $%^&!!!!!)

3) From a training pedagogical point of view it will be a disaster.The quality of engineers will continue to drop. You can not learn engineering video game style.

Prints in the field are in 2-d. They need dimentions, useful notes, and accurate details.

RE: Engineers and CAD


I disagree with some of your points.

1.  The point of modeling the whole building is to get a 3d view of the building, including the PME portions.  This 3d model is invaluable when the contractors have to make their coordination drawings.  

More and more contractors are going to be required to coordinate their installations with 3d software.  It makes it simpler if the engineer has already constructed a 3d model.

When we used 2d software, design coordination was more difficult.  You would have to create your own sections from the plans to see how things looked in section.  If you need several sections, that took a lot of time.  If something moved, it might require you make a whole new section.  With revit, it is just a couple key strokes and you have a section.  If something changes in the plan, it automatically changes in the section.

2.  It is taxing on the computer systems, if all you were using was 2d cad.  And yes, smaller firms will likely not be able to deal with the support issues that Revit requires.  But with more and more emphasis being placed on BIM, the need for 3d models with "real" pieces of equipment in them is not going to go away.

The claim that there would be zero RFI's is stretching it, but with a 3d model, the amount of coordination RFI's drops significantly because you can do interference checks to make sure your piping is not running down the same space as a piece of ductwork.

3.  I think it will be a good training exercise for the newer engineers and also the ex-line jockies who want to grow.  I know from experience that younger engineers tend to never get out into the field.  They don't know how things fit.  A plumbing chase behind a toilet room full of lines and squiggles in 2d looks good.  Put the same thing in Revit and it doesn't fit as well.  A line on a drawing is only that - but a 4" pipe in Revit won't fit in a 2x4 stud wall.  Revit also helps you to see you can run a sloped pipe above the ceiling only so far before you either have to drop to the floor or you will be below the ceiling.  From experience it is no fun getting the RFI stating that your pipe run is below the ceiling.

We recently had a multi story project where the PME team knew up front the structure was going to be in the way.  The structural engineer knew the PME was going to need beam penetrations.  Revit helped incredibly with locating and determining the elevations and distances from columns these penetrations were to be placed.  It could happen with 2d cad but it would have taken a lot longer.  Revit also helped incredibly to allow me to determine I did not need beam penetrations for my sloping drainage piping.  Again, it could happen in 2d, but not as quick.

Since you are electrical, you probably still do a lot of your design in a schematic nature and only show conduit above a certain size.  Revit is not as beneficial for that.

Prints in the field are 2d, but the building is not.  A design tool that enables everybody to design in 3 dimensions is indispensible.


RE: Engineers and CAD


Some good points, but for building construction I still don't see the point. Primarily because coordination still has to occur. I just don't see the 3-d drawing done by the engineering improving that step. I just find that too much time is taken on the Revit maintenance and not enough on the engineering. Communication, between all parties is whats needed. In the field a set of prints, with notes, dimensions, and a good set of specs is needed; Not a 3-D cad work station.

However, you mentioned BIM. The way engineering is done is going to change because of the philosophy. So, like it or not, we got to just deal with it.  

RE: Engineers and CAD


I agree that coordination still has to take place.  But if I can create a 3d model for the contractors to use, the amount of time it takes to coordinate is reduced.  If their coordination time is reduced, then the time I have to spend responding to RFIs about conflicts is minimized.

I will agree that if the contractors are not going to use 3d for their coordination - the benefits are less.  Also, 3d software would likely not be useful in smaller buildings where the PME is light or in renovations where putting the existing into the model takes longer than the new work.  2d will still be used for awhile, in my opinion.

Using 3d will require more design time up front, but it will more than offset the extra in the minimal amount of construction admin time (for coordination).  Our company has seen this to be true.

I had another project - a two storey lab project where - again, the structural was a problem.  There was a beam under about every wall and there was cross bracing in about every wall.  So bringing up utilites to the 2nd floor lab equipment was a nightmare.  And trying to get vents up and drains down was interesting.  In 3d, it all worked.  If I had been required to use 2d, I would still be working on the plans.  

The contractors were required to have 3d capabiility - didn't have to be Revit.  The CM took our model and gave it to the contractors to produce coordination drawings for the field work.  I saw the final coordination model and it had all the hangers, supports - which our model didn't have.  The contractors had access to both views - they had their plans in the field and they could come to the office trailer to see how it all fit in 3d.

I only had one coordination RFI and that was due to a field change in the structural.  It took me about 2 minutes to tell the contractor what he needed to revise.

But to the point of the thread - use of drafters (those who just take mark ups and put lines on the drawings) will not be advantageous.  They need to know how to route piping.  A good designer or a less experienced engineer is required for this.

RE: Engineers and CAD


   I am an engineering technologist with a three year diploma.  I do design on CAD, and I produce all my drawings including fabrication ones.  Some people where I work feed their 3D models to drafters, but I do not see this would save me much time.  Even in the old days on a drafting  board, I figure I spent less than ten percent of my time on fabrication drawings.  

   I figure that the number one problem with 3D CAD like SolidWorks is that companies are hiring CAD operators.  AutoCAD is a draftng tool.  SolidWorks is a design tool.  If the actual SolidWorks design is done in pencil on 1/4" grid paper, you are wasting thousands of dollars worth of capability.  

   If mechanical or industrical design is to be done, the person sitting in front of a SolidWorks (ProE, SolidEdge?) station ought be a designer.  They should have the intelligence, technical background and trustworthiness to solve problems and make decisions.  

   There are dozens of ways to generate any 3D model.  How you do it depends on what sort of design you are doing, how you plan to be able to change stuff, how you make decisions, and how you plan to generate production documentation.  Most of the really awful CAD models I have seen have been generated by people who either did not understand or care about all of this context.

   How many people here have gone into AutoCAD drawings and found that someone has exploded the dimensions and re-typed the text?  For that matter, has anyone here ever found that someone modified a dimension on a SolidWorks drawing by replacing <DIM> with the new dimension value?


RE: Engineers and CAD

Seen both of those. What a big wast of time. What is that person thinking exploding the dwg.
We should explode their desks. smile
On another note, in the research area I don't do much CAD anymore. I use it for diagrams, and the occasional design.  


RE: Engineers and CAD


Our designers export a parasolid from UG that we pull into solidworks.  Works pretty good.  Not sure how we do the Catia.  Haven't had to pull in any of those models yet since it is for old programs we are done with.

With drawings I am stuck with printing them out.  But I prefer that to the screen anyways.  They usually send us cgm files which are pretty nice.  I imagine there might be a way to import the drawing into solidworks but I have not figured out how.

RE: Engineers and CAD

I don't know of any CAD translator which can handle associative drawings.  Printing them out is what we do also.
Do you have the latest Solidworks?  It should be able to open UG parts directly, though we have had problems with larger and more complex UG files.

"Good to know you got shoes to wear when you find the floor." - Robert Hunter

RE: Engineers and CAD

I hope this won't be thread jacking, but I started as a drafter (even though I had an MSEE) and worked my way up to designer with the assumption that I would someday get to "celeb" status (ie engineer) and I have no problems with this at all.  In my company, you're hired and retained because of your willingness to go this route.  In my opinion, you bring little value immediately to a company if you're coming right out of college; the ability to draft well and efficiently was my way in.  I worked my way up to designer (which is where I still am).  I also don't see myself falling to the trap of being "stuck" here unless it is what I wanted.

I'm also not entirely convinced that its a waste of resources to have designers do their own drafting.  The alternative is to have the designer/engineer do red/green markups and continually go back and forth with the draftspeople.  It appears to be far more efficient to have designers do their own drafting and do the checking between themselves.

RE: Engineers and CAD

Engineering and "designing" are different


RE: Engineers and CAD


The alternative is to have the designer/engineer do red/green markups
Not necessarily.  There used to be Checkers hired for this, and this only.  Passing mark-ups between engineers or designers serves poorly compared to having someone whose entire focus is to ensure drawing quality, and tends to let mistakes propagate and become "legitimate" (since few doing the checking know any better).
I have seen engineers who are very well qualified in the tolerancing methods of GD&T make otherwise simple mistakes on drawings.  The tendency seems to be "jack of all trades" when it comes to drafting rather than "master of one".

"Good to know you got shoes to wear when you find the floor." - Robert Hunter

RE: Engineers and CAD


   I do not see how a master of GD&T can produce useful drawings without a thorough understanding of the design requirements.  I would want to have a person sitting in front of a CAD station to have adequate CAD and GD&T skills, and as much skill and knowledge as possible of the design.  

   Having an otherwise unskilled CAD operator update marked up drawings can be dangerous.  Some non-engineering type in production can mark up a print and write an ECR, and the ECR committee can approve it and the whole change can be implemented with the participation of anyone who knows what they are doing.

   CAD operators need close supervision by designers and engineers.  Much of the time, it will be easier to do the whole job by yourself.  If you need to offload stuff, you would be better off hiring a junior designer/engineer, and giving them responsibility for a sub-assembly.

   A big threat with mechanical design is that all sorts of people think they are good at it.  They will micro-manage the job.  They do not want crap from designers and engineers and they may prefer to work with CAD operators.  I leave the rest to your imagination.


RE: Engineers and CAD

I quite agree.  My point was that there is more to a good drawing than many engineers (who already have enough responsibilities) or even skilled CAD operators (knowing the software is not the same as knowing drafting) are aware of.  Stupid mistakes, once approved, tend to be repeated over and over.  The mere ability to dimension a view without crossing dimension/extension lines seems beyond most CAD operators these days.  I often see "DRILL..." and REAM..." on engineer's drawings.
Engineers have enough responsibilities and shouldn't be saddled with having to concern themselves over seemingly minor details;  it is those details, however, consistently applied, that make good, easily understood drawings.
While it would indeed be easier to make the changes yourself most of the time, by doing so you are failing to invest in the skills required of a good drafter, and the situation will not improve.

"Good to know you got shoes to wear when you find the floor." - Robert Hunter

RE: Engineers and CAD

The 'redlining' of drawings can sometimes be split into two parts.  The first part is the fundamental function, here the person review the drawing clearly needs to know all about the function etc.  The other part is tolerancing and drawing correctness etc.

For the latter you don't necessarily need to be able to determine the resonant frequency or thermal shrinkage etc. of the part.  You do need to know that it mates to 'part B' using x size screws, hole location, hole tolerance etc.

So I have to disagree with you drawoh.

The best checker I worked with was from a designer/drafter back ground not an engineer in the strictest sense.  He could do basic stress analysis and the like but certainly wasn't an expert in the field we were working.  He concentrated on tolerance and drawing correctness etc.  Occasionally had have some input into more 'functional' aspects but usually his functional checking was limited to making sure the parts fit together.  He had only the most basic of CAD skills.  The other checkers I've worked with have been similar except even less CAD skills.  The drawings by the time they'd finished with them were generally a lot better.  Once in a blue moon they introduced a functional error but from memory this was only when they couldn't get an answer to questions they asked and had to make their best guess.

ewh, I think on most of this you and I think alike.

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RE: Engineers and CAD


   I am talking about CAD operators with zero expertise outside of CAD.  Your checker sounds like he went to a technical school of some kind where he acquired all sorts of expertise with tools and fabrication, as well as drafting.  He probably has some design experience too.  

   Mechanical 3D CAD software like SolidWorks, is not the least bit idiot resistant.  Idiots can destroy the scale modeling that is the basic functionality of 3D CAD.  They can set up parametric relationships that make drawings randomly revise themselves depending on what files the viewer has loaded.  They can set up other parametric relationships that break with any attempt to make changes.  They can say "Hey, I have COSMOS, I can analyze that pressure vessel!"  Even if the designer is not qualified to do critical structural design, they should still have the knowledge and professionalism to know when they are getting in over their heads.  

   The analysts with graduate degrees probably should not bury themselves in the detailed design.  The person who finally does the detail design should be a skilled professional too, in the general sense, not in the sense of being licensed professional engineer.


RE: Engineers and CAD

Well, there was a previous post about qualifications for a checker.  When I was talking about a checker I was talking about someone that meant the more stringent requirements of that list.  Having a CAD monkey doing detailed checking is ridiculous.  If it's more or less stupid than many engineers doing it is another matter, they wont even spot functional isues, but they'll be cheapwinky smile.

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