Mechanical Engineering CAD

Computer-aided design, or CAD as it is commonly known, is used by computer-age mechanical draftspersons to translate product design concepts into accurate and detailed technical drawings and specifications for engineering, manufacturing, or other purposes. These drawings describe the size, shape, and function of objects and mechanical components for the use of design and production firms. A CAD draftsperson generally works closely with the production team, explaining or adjusting the drawings as work progresses. They must ensure that their drawings conform to the project’s requirements while considering the limitations of the materials being used.

CAD drafting techniques have changed the work of the mechanical draftsperson, because the computer is faster, and more accurate, allows design variations to be easily accomplished, and has eliminated many of the repetitive tasks formerly associated with this profession. However, even though its use is rapidly replacing traditional manual drafting methods, much of the same knowledge of technical and engineering materials, practices, and conventions are still required by this occupation.

Traits and Talents

To work as a mechanical CAD draftsperson you should enjoy challenges, be interested in computers, building things and drawing, and possess strong math and science skills. You need to be able to visualize the size, shape and proportions of two-dimensional drawings in three dimensions. Successful draftspersons are creative, analytical, well organized, interested in accurate measurements, capable of intense concentration and able to follow instructions and drawings carefully and concisely. If you are inquisitive about how things are made and why they work the way they do, you might enjoy a career in this profession.

Education and Training

  • Completion of secondary school is usually required. 
  • Completion of a two- to three-year college program in engineering design and drafting technology or in a related field is usually required for drafting and design technologists. 
  • Completion of a one- to two-year college program in drafting or Completion of a three- to four-year apprenticeship program or Four to five years of related experience plus completion of college or industry courses in drafting are usually required for drafting technicians. 
  • Trade certification for draftspersons is available, but voluntary in Ontario. 
  • Certification in engineering design and drafting technology or in a related field through provincial associations of engineering/applied science technologists and technicians may be required by employers. 
  • A period of supervised work experience, usually two years, is required before certification. 

The Workplace

Drafting technologists perform some or all of the following duties: 

  • Develop and prepare engineering designs and drawings from preliminary concepts, sketches, engineering calculations, specification sheets and other data 
  • Operate computer-assisted design and drafting (CADD) workstations 
  • Develop and prepare design sketches 
  • Complete documentation packages and produce drawing sets 
  • Check and verify design drawings to conform to specifications and design data 
  • Write technical reports 
  • Prepare contracts and tender documents 
  • Prepare construction specifications, costs and material estimates 
  • Supervise and train other technologists, technicians and drafters. 

Skills for Success

The key Skills for Success for this career path are:

  • Numeracy
  • Problem Solving
  • Reading

Sample Job Titles

  • Industrial designer 
  • Technical illustrator 
  • Architectural draftsperson 
  • CADD Technician 
  • Electrical draftsperson 

Companies and Sectors

  • Manufacturing companies 
  • Engineering companies 
  • Industrial design firms 
  • Self-employed