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What programs should I download to help prepare me for engineering?

I'm a Lafayette student of the class of 2018. I'm majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Civil Engineering. #engineer #mechanical-engineer #mechanical

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Jordan’s Answer

Great recommendations already -- 3D Cad software is valuable, but some others are: Visio, Excel, PPT. These are critical for creating process flows, laying out various types of drawings, math calculations, etc... and along with how to present your findings in a clear viewpoint. Another underestimated area of 3D design is Document control -- i.e. how to create parts, how to release parts (ECR/ECO), how to find the right description for your parts, how to check out parts, etc. Revision control is HUGE in Engineering -- tracking and traceability is important not only at the team and org level, but also very important for any Federal programs you may work on.
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Harikrishna’s Answer

As a Mechanical Engineer and a Civil Engineer, you really need to know CAD (Computer Aided Design) software. Some examples of industry accepted software are ProE/Creo, SolidWorks, CATIA, AutoCAD, NX. Of course, if you want to start with the most widely used CAD for just part design, choose SolidWorks or ProE/Creo. Both have student versions available for download. For 2D design, AutoCAD by Autodesk is very famous. They also have free versions for students. Check it out.


For more advanced things such as structural analyses (very useful in Civil and Mechanical), you can use FEA (Finite Element Analysis) packages in-built the aforementioned software or look at more advanced software like Abaqus, ANSYS, COSMOS, COMSOL Multiphysics. Keep in mind that these software require more time commitment to even learn how to use.


Also, I highly recommend learning programming languages. The advanced software in the second paragraph have a lot of programming capabilities to do very customized analysis on nonlinear rubber or plastic materials. Programming in C, C++ is always useful. I also highly recommend getting your hands dirty with Python and JavaScript scripting languages.


Hope this helps!

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Joshua’s Answer

There are many open source programs you can use to learn. They won't be identical to the commercial version, but if you can run the FOSS versions, it will be easier to learn the commercial packages. If you are interested in open source instead of buying student versions, I would suggest the following in order of use:

-FreeCAD: Very useable CAD program that is still working out some challenges for UI. I use it all the time for modelling components for home 3D printing. If you are willing to spend money there are a ton of commercial options.

-Python (Anaconda is a good starting point): A great way to learn how to program. You can use it to do calculations, simulations, data visualization, etc. Once I learned Python, I only use commercial programs like MATLAB for very specific tasks. It becomes an excellent tool for many things. If you want to have fun with it, find a robot platform that uses it and practice robotics and programming at the same time. You can also use web sites like codingame or any number of other programming challenge websites to gain this skill while having some fun with it.

-QCAD (or other AutoCAD clone): If you do civil, you will very likely need AutoCAD. While there are very few ME jobs that will use 2D CAD, it is still used in civil engineering. QCAD and other clones do a good job of teaching the principles of AutoCAD and are fully functional for 2D drawings. I drafted up my house for investigating room layouts, etc.

-C/C++: Very good for working with software and firmware teams, but not as applicable for ME / CE as Python. I would generally suggest learning Python first and getting some programming experience before diving into C/C++. A good starting point for this would be finding some fun Arduino projects as Arduino is easy to get started with and programmed in a simplified C environment.

Bonus challenges:
-Get an inexpensive cheap 3D printer and experiment with creating your own designs. Nothing teaches you about designing better than physically handling your own designs. The experience of building it and upkeeping it will also be very educational. I bought one and use it at home all the time for hobby projects and to create fun and occasionally useful things for around the house.

-OpenFOAM and FEM Workbench for FreeCAD: These are free FEA and CFD packages. They are even more challenging than commercial FEA/CFD packages, but they are free. You will likely not use them at a company, but they will teach you fundamentals of both techniques if you are interested. I will stress that it will likely be frustrating to get them running and learn them, but it can be very rewarding. You really can't learn the commercial versions easily as they are extremely expensive packages. I would only look at this after tackling some of the previous areas.
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