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Best way to learn a CAD program

  1. Jul 27, 2006 #1
    I have one year left in college and then I will graduate with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Unfortunately, I haven't learned much at all about drawing things using a CAD program. We had to draw simple things using PRO E for a class but it's not much. This won't help me at all if I start looking for a job after I graduate, so what's the best way to really learn something like PRO E? Knowledge of which programs will make me most attractive to employers after I graduate (I think PRO E is a good one)?
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  3. Jul 27, 2006 #2


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    I'm not familiar with the programmes that you're asking about, but I've found that the best way for me to learn one (Illustrator, Photoshop, etc.) is to use it. A lot. While reading the manual. Start with the simple stuff until you're comfortable with it, then move on to more complicated things. You might also see if there's a 'For Dummies' book available. They're great for explaining things in English rather than professional terms.
  4. Jul 27, 2006 #3


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    *echo here* I think the easiest way to get efficient with a package is to do tutorials (even pretty fast). Work your way through some, after which have a handle on the package, can make sense of the manuals better and so forth (I think picking a manual and going through it thoroughly at first is bit heavy, glance it first to learn some of the terminology, software structure basics etc. and then start doing stuff). Most software have similar structure, similar properties and so forth, when learn one well (preferably major of course, like Pro E) it's tolerably easy to adopt other packages.
  5. Jul 27, 2006 #4


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    Practice, practice, practice. You can learn the basics of a program from a book or tutorial, but the real learning, IMO, is in doing projects. A lot of programs now hve books with step-by-step projects to follow that take you through a lot of aspects of a specific program.

    One caveat to this is that with any CAD package, there is a basic background knowledge required. For any of the basic or advanced packages out there, you need to have a decent understanding of drawing and drafting principles. Without that, learning will be tougher.
  6. Jul 31, 2006 #5


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    Pro-E and Solidworks are the best beginner packages to get some time in. These packages use drawing techniques that are used is many other programs (Unigraphics NX, for example). The most important part is understanding how and when to use elements such as datum planes and axes, sketches, extrusions, revolves, arrays, mirroring, etc. By knowing what you need to use and where, the CAD package is really just a series of buttons and functions that let you use these basic tools. Once you can look at a part and know how you would model it (revolve here, extrude-cut, array of holes, ...) all you really need in the CAD package is to know the little quirks and ins-n-outs of the software. You know WHAT you need, you just need to find it.

    And by the way, experience in Pro-E and/or Solidworks are excellent resume boosters for a Mechanical Engineer, I highly recommend taking a class or two in CAD Drafting.
  7. Aug 3, 2006 #6
    Nothing beats a live project... If nothing else, grab a few things off your desk, and draw them. The tutorials will get you the absolute basics, to avoid frustration, but until you are forced to use them, they don't become solid.
  8. Sep 15, 2006 #7
    How about AutoCad?
  9. Sep 16, 2006 #8


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    Couldn't say; can't afford it. Wish that I did have it. I do my draughting in Illustrator. Still beats when I was doing it with a T-square and multiple triangle templates. (But once we have a big enough place, I'm bringing my draughting table and machine and all associated equipment home from my mother's house.)
  10. Oct 25, 2006 #9
    I use AutoCad. I learned to use AutoCad when I was an interm. I went through a 2 week training period and after that the project manager corrected any mistakes I made. Of course not everyone can have that experience.

    With other programs, I usually work with the program and see what I can pick up. Then after that I use the guide and ask people who are experienced with the program to help me when I need help.
  11. Oct 25, 2006 #10


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    Echoing Danger, PerennialII, FredGarvin and others, the only way to learn CAD or any program for that matter is by doing it repeatedly. If one is in a university environment, take advantage of that. After leaving university, one might be able to pick up a training course through a local junior/community college.

    Or just buy the software (maybe a lite version) and just use it.

    I have often found manuals woefully inadequate. :rolleyes:
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