When he started at Tidewater Community College, the tools of his trade were T-Square and pencil. Thirty-two years later, computers and 3-D printers are integral to Computer-Aided Drafting and Design, a program that has evolved under the direction of Professor David Steinhauer.
“We don’t use T-Square and pencil anymore,” Steinhauer says. “Everything is done on a computer. Instead of starting to draw lines for an object, you can actually draw the object, design it, manipulate it, and it’s turned into a drawing for you. The design world has changed from 2-D to 3-D.”
The intricacies and innovation of CADD and the rapidly changing engineering field appeal to Steinhauer, an Ohio native who has lived in Hampton Roads most of his adult life. His interest in “tearing thing apart and putting them back together again” dates back to an eighth-grade drafting class. He enjoyed tinkering under the hood of his first car and in college worked as a machinist.
The technology that gets Steinhauer talking the most these days is rapid prototyping.
“We design something on a computer and instead of creating a blueprint of it, we create a plastic model,” he says, holding up a plastic handle for a kitchen cabinet that came from the 3-D printer down the hall from his office. “You the customer can actually hold a plastic model of a design and decide if it will meet your needs.”
That same technology allows architects to create 3-D models of homes instead of relying on blueprints – another skill students can learn in the CADD program.
Steinhauer graduated from Kent State with a bachelor’s in industrial technology in 1976 and earned a master’s in education from Old Dominion in 1979. He also completed advanced course work in Solar Engineering at Colorado State University and Higher Education Administration at Virginia Tech. He started at TCC as an adjunct instructor and was hired full time a year later. Initially, he taught drafting but has since taught every course in the CADD curriculum, which he was instrumental in designing. Steinhauer is a Certified Professional in two CADD software packages, AutoCAD and Autodesk Inventor.
Steinhauer is particularly proud of the relationship the college has with industry. In addition to regular college credit classes, TCC is among two dozen Authorized Training Centers for Autodesk software. Autodesk is the leading software maker in the world for design software used in construction, manufacturing, building and engineering. Almost all of the other certified training centers are private companies.
“As a specialized training center, we do workforce classes for industry, meaning they’ll send six to 10 people for typically 40 hours of intense training,” he says. “Our students are designers, engineers and architects. The software changes yearly – typically there are about 400 new features every 12 months – and we keep those in the industry up to speed.”
Steinhauer is also the academic advisor for the Norfolk Naval Shipyard Apprenticeship Program, a partnership that enables TCC to train 200-300 new hires each year. The program, which culminates with a certificate, combines academics and theory with on-the-job training.
“Working with industries such as the Naval Shipyard to create training programs is one of the most rewarding aspects of this job,” Steinhauer has had the good fortune to work with many companies in the Hampton Roads area, training their employees in CADD, Occupational Safety, and other related areas.
Steinhauer is particularly excited about the flexibility the CADD program offers, noting that an associate in applied science is a great start or stopping point, whatever the preference.
“When you get a two-year degree in computer-aided drafting and design, probably half of our students go right into the workforce and get jobs as designers,” he says. “But the degree is also the first two years of an engineering technology degree at Old Dominion. So they can either go straight to work or if they want more, get a bachelor’s. We give them that option, which is so unique.”
Steinhauer has won numerous awards for his work, including repeated recognition from Autodesk as a Top Instructor. He was particularly thrilled to be a NASA Faculty Fellowship recipient – an honor bestowed to 50 faculty members around the country.
“I got to get into an FA/18 trainer, where they train fighter pilots,” he says. “That was the best video game in the world.”
Steinhauer and wife Barbara have two children: Hannah, 14, and Ben, 12. He enjoys golf and woodworking and has never grown tired of his job.
“You never get bored because it’s constant change,” he says. “I’m where I’m supposed to be.”