Computer Aided Design in Government: What is CAD Technology?

What is CAD (Computer Aided Design)?

BOJAT, Autodesk Notes, “is a design and technical documentation technology, which replaces manual drafting with an automated process.”

The company claims that its AutoCAD software “Can help you write construction documentation, explore design ideas, visualize concepts through photorealistic renderings, and simulate how a design works in the real world.”

CAD is an engineering technique, not just a drafting tool or software suite, says Jason Schuler, robotics engineer at exploration research and technology programs at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Instead, CAD can be thought of as a design philosophy or technique that allows users to move from a whiteboard concept to a digital model, in which the fit and function of something can be manipulated. , to the final product.

“I don’t think I know of anything we’re designing these days that doesn’t use CAD,” says Schuler. CAD is taught in middle and high schools and has become a very accessible technology, he notes, like Microsoft Office. All NASA interns must know at least one CAD software package before being accepted into the program, says Schuler.

Similarly, Notlim Burgos, a mechanical engineer at Kennedy Space Center, says CAD is essential to his work at NASA. “To me, CAD is a technology that allows us to visually create designs” for everything from space vehicles to rockets, rovers and mechanical parts, before they’re even made or used.

The type of computer hardware needed to support CAD software depends on the complexity of the design, says Schuler. “At NASA, some of our models get very complex and there are a lot of moving parts going on,” he says. “Having more computing power definitely helps.”

CAD software can run on fairly basic computers, and if users are trying to design something very complex, the design can be shared with others via the cloud.

MORE FROM FEDTECH: What is a digital twin and how is it used in government?

The advantages of computer-aided design

CAD offers many advantages to agencies. The first is that it allows users to capture the design intent of a project, notes Schuler. Designs evolve over the life of a project, and CAD allows users to easily adapt designs as project requirements change.

“We try to create designs and CAD models with the intent of what we want the design to be,” he says, not just with fixed dimensions. CAD allows users to explain to their peers why a feature is in a specific place on a design or why a dimension is a particular number.