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sparra16
14th Dec '10, 13:12
Hi,
My name is Helen, I'm 29 and a CAD operator with approx 4 years experience of 2D sheet metal programmes such as Lantek and drafting software (AutoCAD). I have two issues at the moment. One is that I can't seem to find work at the moment. It seems I need qualifications to back up my experience. I also would ideally like to be a mechanical design engineer. So can anyone suggest what qualification or route would be the best start for me or a good way of getting more work?

GarethW
14th Dec '10, 13:42
Hi,
My name is Helen, I'm 29 and a CAD operator with approx 4 years experience of 2D sheet metal programmes such as Lantek and drafting software (AutoCAD). I have two issues at the moment. One is that I can't seem to find work at the moment. It seems I need qualifications to back up my experience. I also would ideally like to be a mechanical design engineer. So can anyone suggest what qualification or route would be the best start for me or a good way of getting more work?
Hi Helen. Just a few thoughts - To begin with, some experience of 3D CAD is recommended. It's invariably a requirement of mech design engineer jobs now. I see you have experience with 2D. Have you experience with doing engineering drawings? That would be a good thing. What kind of qualifications have been recommended to you? Obviously a degree would be best (and is the usual requirement) for mech eng positions. Alternatively, I think that qualifications such as HND might be a good way to get a draughtsperson job. From there you could try to work towards a mech eng job.

I have altered some recruiters (also members of this forum) to your post. It might be helpful to get their views too. Hopefully they'll drop by!

cadjobhunter
14th Dec '10, 14:23
Hi Helen

Gareth makes a good point regarding the 3d CAD experience. If you are currently unemployed Autodesk are offering free training and (student) software downloads http://students.autodesk.com/?nd=assistanceemia so it might be worth trying your hand with a new package. I understand that SolidWorks might be offering a similar service also?

Best of luck

cwarner7_11
14th Dec '10, 22:32
If you are currently unemployed, it is unlikely you will be able to afford formal 3D CAD training, but there are some very good Open Source alternatives that you may be interested in, that could help you learn, and give you a portfolio of work to show off your skills to potential employers. Here are some of my own favorites:

BrlCAD, available for free download from http://brlcad.org/. From their web site:

"BRL-CAD is a powerful cross-platform Open Source combinatorial Constructive Solid Geometry (CSG) solid modeling system that includes interactive 3D solid geometry editing, high-performance ray-tracing support for rendering and geometric analysis...For more than 20 years, BRL-CAD has been the primary tri-service solid modeling CAD system used by the U.S. military to model weapons systems for vulnerability and lethality analyses. The solid modeling system is frequently used in a wide range of military, academic, and industrial applications including in the design and analysis of vehicles, mechanical parts, and architecture..."

The user interface might take some getting used to (not, perhaps, as intuitive as some of the commercial alternatives), but there is very good and very extensive documentation that can help you develop the skills. What you learn here will be directly transferable to commercial packages.

Next, there is Blender, which is more a rendering program than a CAD program, but there are a number of resources available to help develop CAD capabilities with this package. Pretty sophisticated stuff, with some fancy animation capabilities, extensive documentation and tutorials. Available here: http://www.blender.org/

Finally, there is Salome, which is mostly a front end for FEA and CFD analysis, but good 3D graphics capabilities, probably easier to get started with than the other two, but perhaps more limited in potential applications. Available here: http://www.salome-platform.org/

All of these packages offer different levels of compatibility with commercial packages like AutoDesk, Catia, etc.

On the low end of the commercial community, one has DoubleCAD XT and TurboCAD, both from IMSI Design- more familiar to someone from the AutoCAD environment- the free version of DoubleCAD does not have 3D capabilities, but their pro version does (at a very reasonable price). I believe TurboCAD, also quite reasonably priced, has 3D capabilities, but it has been years since I have used that one.

Ultimately, having a portfolio of work you have done will open a lot more doors than any "certification" you can get on line. As for moving on in to mechanical design, a bit of formal education coupled with long years of on the job experience (hopefully under the guidance of a good mentor) is the only viable path...