Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's not just a profession,

It's a way of life. Once in a while I catch myself doing something and think, "I probably couldn't be anything other than an engineer." The latest incident came when I decided it was time to organize my closet. I took some measurments, started thinking about options and before I knew it I had it planned out in AutoCAD

Yep, planned complete with projected views. It was overkill but it did make me stop and think for a moment.

Engineers in my generation have little to no hand drafting experience. In fact by the time I was in school 2D CAD systems were passed over in favor of 3D modeling, at least in the world of mechanical engineering.

These are very effective tools that give us options nobody would have imagined just 50 years ago including the ability to generate ridiculously complex geometry that can be taken directly to CNC equipment.

The only problem I have with this is that when a computer program can do the heavy work for you it becomes easy to generate designs without having a thorough understanding of the geometry involved. Maybe I just worry too much about these things, but I still think there's something nice about being able to conjur projected views from just a concept and a few construction lines.



At 10:51 PM, Blogger Andy said...

Wandered over from Mausers and Muffins, and this top post caught my eye. When I was becoming a wee engineer, CAD was half the engineering graphics class (and that was on a mainframe). The rest was drafting, with a real emphasis on sketching.

Sketching? Yep. As th prof explained in class, most of the time you are working out an idea or explaining something on the back of an envelope, or at a whiteboard. Being able to sketch, even now, has been invaluable.

At 11:16 PM, Blogger bluesun said...

Agree completely. I was disappointed enough with my school's lack of real drafting/drawing/anything involving a piece of paper and a pencil that I went out and bought several reprints of old "how to draft" books.

At 9:40 AM, Blogger Mr. Engineering Johnson said...

Andy, I'm with you 100% on the sketching. Nobody in my engineering classes emphasized that you had to be able to draw a concept so it was quite a shock when I first expressed an opninion in a meeting and my boss set 'ok, draw it for me.' Being able to make a decent sketch is what has enabled me to work in countries where I don't know the language.

@ Bluesun - I have a few such texts on the shelf. I haven't spent much time with them, but once in a rare while I tap them for a little advice in how to generate a particularly tricky view. Glad someone else is keeping such things alive

At 10:44 AM, Blogger Peripatetic Engineer said...

Hand drafting, along with slide rule skills, have gone the way of the buggy whip.

At 2:36 PM, Anonymous STxRynn said...

Sad times, actually. My first class in my first college semester was drafting.... at 0715!!!! I couldn't even read my own printing. Then, I had to learn "lettering". Projections, true lengths, don't use that eraser, it'll burn a hole in the paper... Pentel .5 MM pencils... wow, it was a tough course for me, but I learned some valuable skills.

Also a mosy-er from Brigid's blog.

At 4:58 PM, Blogger Brigid said...

Then there are those free bawdy diagrams

At 10:37 AM, Blogger DirtCrashr said...

I started drawing as a kid in order to explain and show the ideas that were in my head. It helped that my dad taught drafting, but at eight years old I was self-motivated. Then my complete lack of math skills lead me to general illustration, and finally my own impatience lead me to cartooning... All downhill from there.

At 5:54 PM, Blogger Mr. Engineering Johnson said...

P.E. Indeed they have. What's funny is that the advanced digital systems are now so complex that when things to wrong it's sometimes easier to just take out a square and a pencil and start making corrections by hand.

I'm glad I didn't have a drafting class at 0715, but I do sometimes feel bad that I never went through the process of leaning proper lettering or how to generate good perspective views. I do pretty well having taught myself, but I know I could do better if I trained under someone who really knew what he was doing.

Glad to see so many folks wandering over from HOTR! I'm just now getting back to writing for this regularly so it's good to know people can still find the blog.

B. Free Body Diagrams? I had best not go there! Of course that reminds me of an incident...

A structural analysis engineer walks into a bar and sits down next to an attractive woman. She turns to him, introduces herself and offers her hand. He takes her hand and introduces himself. They linger for a moment holding hands then he looks at her wrist and asks, "What's a joint like this doing in a girl like you?"

At 2:54 PM, Blogger BobG said...

When I was growing up, you had to take wood shop in seventh grade, and metal shop in eighth grade. Both classes required drafting and the ability to make a blueprint of your project before you were allowed to touch any of the tools. Don't they teach drafting in school anymore?

At 7:23 AM, Blogger Peripatetic Engineer said...

You could always tell if a student was in engineering by the slide rule he carried. You could tell he was a freshman by the 2' x 3' portable drafting table he had to carry to class. We had to develop the missing view in perspective drawings by constructing it based on the other views. Its a good exercise in visualization.

But then, computer class taught Fortran II. And the IBM computer was a batch processer. We spent hours in the card punch room.


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