The Trade of Design – It’s More Than Learning the Software

Bill Goosie

Part 1 of a 2-part series

It’s one thing for a drafter to have training and experience with CAD software such as Solidworks, Inventor, Creo, Autocad, etc., but it’s quite another to have the “design” training and experience. The software is merely the modern-day tool of the trade.

Most people who choose the field of drafting and design will take drafting courses in vocational or trade schools or community colleges where they are first taught how to create orthographic views of simple mechanical parts by using multi-view projection, and later how to set up drawings showing details and dimensions of those parts. These schools teach the CAD software, but not the expertise needed to move from drafter to a designer. Being able to fully visualize a part, and a project, turns a drafter into a designer. Designers utilize years of experience and a great depth of knowledge related to their field to gradually become more valuable to the employer over time. They can often perform some engineering tasks, such as simulations, calculations, specifying equipment, and even preparing work for others, thus freeing the engineer to move to the next project quicker. The designer no longer needs assistance with developing the design drawing packages, making sure industry standards are incorporated, creating accurate bills of materials, correct dimensioning is applied, and much more. In other words, with minimal detail on the front end, a designer can proceed with a design with little assistance from others, while also knowing when to check in with the engineer or client. This describes the trade of design, utilizing experience and knowledge of the field, in addition to being able to utilize the CAD software.

Next month: What to look for in a designer candidate, beyond the software.

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