Knowing CAD vs. applying core engineering concepts?

Deepak Sharma, Senior Design Engineer at Whirlpool Corporation/consultant in machine design, poses a thought-provoking question in the Machine Designers' forum on LinkedIn. He says, "Young engineers (today) concentrate more on learning a software rather than applying the core engineering behind the designs. Please comment."

There were lots of interesting replies, including this one from Kevin Honaker, Consultant at Adecco Engineering & Technical. His comment: "I have been a mechanical designer for about nine years. I too notice that many engineers get sucked into a lazy, hypnotic state with 3D CAD software much like driving a vehicle on a long trip. I've seen people get promoted for modeling ornately complicated revolved parts that could not possibly be produced. Meanwhile, I worked 40-70 hour weeks in a different division of the same company on concurrent projects with complex assemblies that we produced on schedule. I have also seen engineers who don't do their own modeling who can demonstrate on-demand the flight trajectory to Mars, or aerodynamic drag of nearly any vehicle.

I guess designer performance depends on the managers' criterion and leadership effectiveness. Fortunately, I have always had to take every project from concept to completion and have been accountable for my efficiency.

I treat 3D CAD software as a tool, something to be used only after drawing hand sketches and running calculations. Also, I control my designs, not the computer. I will workaround any programmatic issue to achieve my design goal. The best software, and even experience, are worthless without wisdom."

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