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Question to Mechanical engineers

  1. Jul 19, 2010 #1
    I am an undergraduate student majoring in Mechanical engineering(Freshman) and I was wondering which programs would you guys say is the most important to learn? I am currently learning AutoCad 2011 and after that I am moving to Solidworks software. After those I was thinking about getting Matlab but I wasn't sure if it's necessary to learn. Any other tips regarding being a Mech engineer would be great!

    Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 19, 2010 #2
    Learning software depends more on the problems you will start to solve. Learning a software just for the sake of it will not make you any good. If you have no subject for it, there is no point in knowing a specific software in the first place.

    On my current job, I had to learn Femap, Patran, Nastran, MathCAD, Advanced Excel and Microstation. On previous jobs, I had to learn SolidWorks, CosmosWorks, FloWorks, Catia, MatLAB, Primavera, MS Project, MAPLE, Ansys, LS-Dyna, Abaqus, LABView, CFX and Fluent to name a few softwares I came across in the design industry. Some of my friends work with Pro-E, Autocad, SAP, Inventor, SolidEdge, SACS, Vericut and specific or proprietary softwares in the CNC, offshore and metalworks industry.

    For CAD, I like SolidWorks the best. I think you will find SolidWorks really useful in almost any design.

    About MatLAB, there is no tutorial capable of showing what it can really help you accomplish with all the toolboxes available. If you are interested only in the Math aspect, not the programming, simulation, instrumentation and control environments, MAthCAD and other math softwares will give you a better start, until you come across a project that demands or benefits from more complex specific software, package or toolbox.
  4. Jul 19, 2010 #3
    I see. I am just trying get "ahead of the game". Do you have any other tips that might be helpful for an aspiring mech engineer?

    Thank you for the reply!
  5. Jul 19, 2010 #4
    Don't feel pushed back, your curiosity will keep you going.

    I don't know where you are living, but if you have the chance, try to get involved in student's design contests like Baja SAE, Aero Design, Formula SAE or others. You will get a good taste of what is expected from Mechanical Engineers and Softwares, before you grab your degree.
  6. Jul 20, 2010 #5
    Learning CAD software is easy and really there is no point focusing on that at university as you can pick up a good working knowledge in your own time by messing around.

    You are best focusing on softare that deals with 'theory' behind things for modelling. So FEA and Matlab are probably two of the best to learn. They are pretty hard to pick up on your own, unlike CAD. I really wish I had learnt Matlab at University.

    BIG NOTE: Do not be too obsessed with learning software. Learn the thought processes behind the software. So for example you get people asking should I learn SolidWorks or Pro/E. The answer is neither, learn the thought processes behind parametric modelling and you can pick up any 3D CAD package and use it (ok fairly poorly at first) within an hour and well after no time at all.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2010
  7. Jul 20, 2010 #6
    One aspect about Chris answer, I've been seeing a large number of just graduated engineers that are really good at pushing software buttons, but lack the comprehension of how the software actually works, what principles are involved and moreover, blindly believe on the results given by FEM analysis, being unable to verify it with even basic stress theory.

    I remember the first time I tried Ansys, it was a DOS version. After playing with it for a few days, I realised I would never be able to do anything useful because what I lacked was theoretical background, so I waited 2 years before I had enough knowledge to make it useful for me, after studying material sciences and strength of structures.

    I was lucky I got early to the labs during graduation and had the opportunity to learn LABView and Matlab for simulating, controlling and automating experiments, this might be a good start.
  8. Jul 20, 2010 #7


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    If you want to become a good CAD monkey, learn as many modelling packages as possible.

    If you want to become a good engineer, keep up with theory, practice, and all the core subjects around the field in which you want to learn.
  9. Jul 20, 2010 #8
    In a nutshell, be resonably familiar with one each of the following, that should give you a good base to work from:
    CAD: A 3D modeler, SW, Pro/E, CATIA, etc..
    Test programming: Matlab or Mathematica
    FEA/FEM: Pick a structural modeler and some sort of CFD
    Controls: Labview if you are interested in controls or instrumentation.

    I would not get too hung up on learning every program, just establish a good general knowledge base and go from there.
  10. Jul 21, 2010 #9
    Doing some drafting by hand may teach you a lot more than you would expect. I took a drafting class before I ever used CAD so I appreciated the things it could a lot more. I learned AutoCAD first at school, but I use SolidWorks at my job and I never want to use AutoCAD again.

    They may not be required but statistics and linear algebra can be very helpful. You should also learn a few different types of programming like assembly, C++, macros, etc.

    If you have a chance, spend some time around a machine shop and learn everything you can. You can draw whatever you want, but it may be very impractical to actually make the thing. You could also pick up some good experience with detailing drawings that way. Machinists hate to pick up a calculator between cuts because you didn't label a dimension for them.
  11. Jul 22, 2010 #10
    I am looking for a engineering problem ( mech, chem, elec, bio or ... ) modeled by 2 order or higher ODEs or/and PDEs with solution method in analytical or numerical form. ( the physical problem and simplified model and basic equation(s) modeling the problem )

    Please send me the article or journal paper, if possible.

    Thank you in advance and best regards
    Your sincerely
  12. Jul 22, 2010 #11
    I learned AutoCAD early in high school then solidworks later in high school. During my time in high school I got a job at a custom window manufacture, all they used was AutoCAD, I really wished they would have used solidworks, I even mentioned it to them. You really never know what your employer is going to use (with some degree you do) so learn as many as you can. It's not like it's a worthless skill to learn using different programs.
  13. Jul 22, 2010 #12

    I second this, definitely get some hands-on shop time, invaluable.
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