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  • Should an Engineer be able to draw?

    Discussion in 'The main mechanical design forum' started by Archimedes, Mar 20, 2014.

    1. adamru

      adamru Member

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      Should engineer be able to draw? Well, I suppose we deal with mechanical engineers here, because it is pretty obvious that not all engineers need to have the same skills.
      I woul like to tart wit a bit of history - persnal history.
      My latefather studied mechancal engineering inWarsaw Poland in the ae 1920's. He had wondeful drafting skils. He had to. I thin it was an important part of engineering studies then. There as simply no other way to design things.They learned caligraphy too, so tht he would be able to write understandabe notes on their drawigs. All my life envied his caligraphy. I was never even close to his hand in sketchin as simple thing as a circle. And he was excelent with ink too.
      When I started studying mechanical engineering I had to study drafting. It was in the early 1960's, and CAD was still far ahead. Drafting was must, but it was already more symbolic, and did not have to look as good. I knew students that switched from mechanical engineering to other faculties because they did not manage drafting. One important aspect of drafting was being able to imagin 3D from 2D and vice versa. One important skill was to sketch a given part with all dimensions, so that it will be possible to draw it later. No cellphone cameras either.
      Today I still do design work and I still love it. I use 3D solidworks but sometimes it happens that I am stumed on difficult dsign problem. My best strategy then is to make a local printout and use pencil to sketch on top of it. The speed and intuitivity of the pencil is an excelent tool for my mind.
      So yes, mechanical engineers should be able to draw!
       
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    3. ener_G

      ener_G New Member

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      I think engineering has lost a lot of its aesthetics and creativity due to various reasons. The world we live in today fosters the idea that everything has to be done fast and that the project is due yesterday. So this in itself leaves us using software to convey our ideas into something rigid and/or easy to manufacture.

      I'm sure at some point in time a mechanical engineer had to be a good artist to convey what he had in mind so that those making those products were able to make them without a hitch. Nowadays its not needed and probably wouldn't be as appreciated anymore. We have separated Industrial Designers from Product Engineers and in my mind there is no reason an engineer can't do both. But as I alluded to before, with timelines being what they are, problems are solved as a group and not so much as individuals anymore.
       
    4. SketchEngine

      SketchEngine New Member

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      The Importance of Sketching

      Sketching for all designers is a tool for doing 2 things, creating and communicating.
      Creative ideas are formed by making connections; its easier to make these connections at an abstract level than at a detail level. Sketching forces us to minimize details, making visualization more abstract. So sketching encourages the mind to see new connections and then to form new ideas.
      Engineers who can sketch their ideas while in a group or meeting are likely to contribute solutions to engineering problems. It can be absurdly difficult to use words to describe mechanical systems. Drawing, on the other hand, is the language of communicating mechanical ideas. When someone sketches an idea it springs to life.
      Learning how to draw is possible for anyone but engineers are especially receptive because they understand the power it brings to communicating their ideas.
       
    5. bdeuell

      bdeuell Member

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      I wanted to share my experience, as a young engineer CAD has existed my entire life. That being said I did learn drafting before I learned how to use CAD but I don't think I have touched a T-square since freshman year of high school. While I do see the value in learning drafting as many of the skills still apply to working in CAD and I don't think any 3D CAD software can replace the ability to visualize a part from a drawing. However it is much faster to create drawings in CAD than it is by hand so I think it is not necessary to put the focus on perfecting hand drafting skill that was once necessary. Even tho I grew up in the age of personal computers when I am developing an idea I will reach for a paper and pencil first, I will even make printouts of an existing design and hand sketch on them to develop my idea. I find that hand sketching is much faster to work an idea out than a CAD program. I wait to use CAD until I either have a direction for my design or have a particularly complex 3D geometry that is nearly impossible to see how things will fit together in 2D.
       
    6. Archimedes

      Archimedes Active Member

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      A lot of interesting responses. With the majority of people saying say yes they should be able to draw.

      However I realise now that the question was poorly worded as, in my experience a Mechanical Design Engineer should be able to do everything. So I should have really asked is how important is the ability to draw compared to other skills such as communication, problem solving, mathematics etc.
       
    7. engineeringdesign

      engineeringdesign Member

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      Its based on idea if an engineering need to create concepts how he can implement...
       
    8. Tunalover

      Tunalover Member

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      Engineers are typically in the role of checking drawings so of course they have to know how to draw! IMHO mechanical engineers should be trained in drafting. Of course if there are no designers or draftspersons on the scene, then drafting skills are mandatory.
       
    9. Crispin Miller

      Crispin Miller New Member

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      Thanks, Adamru, for the historical perspective. I strongly agree about the value of sketching for being able to design something.

      Another way to ask the question is "should engineers be able to visualize spatial relationships?" If you're a mechanical engineer and don't think the answer to that is obvious, then you're in the wrong job, and even dangerous. For more on that, see the excellent and visually delightful book "Engineering and the Mind's Eye" by Eugene Ferguson, available for example at http://www.amazon.com/Engineering-Minds-Eye-Eugene-Ferguson/dp/026256078X -- which makes the argument far better than I could, and also provides several centuries more of historical perspective than Adam has.

      So then if you need to visualize something, then IN PRINCIPLE, and up to a point, you might do that entirely in your head -- and, up to a point, it's fun to try to -- but do you really want to take on that challenge with no supporting images outside your head? And if the thing you need an image of is something you've dreamed up, then if it's not you who shall draw it, who will?
       
    10. designwhoops

      designwhoops New Member

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      Yes, they should be able to draw things but not necessarily at the level of great artists. Furthermore, when it comes to drawing, it should be a realistic not abstract like Picasso etc.
       
    11. adamru

      adamru Member

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      Actually I have found out that I don't even need my sketches to be realistic. Most of the time, when I draw something it is only very crude sketch, and the use I make of it is mostly to discover and test the topological relationships of a design. after having the topological understanding it is pretty easy to complete the geometrical relations using the computer.
       

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