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Computer-Aided Drafting and Design: Imagine the possibilities and create them

What was once a field that relied on a T-square and pencil has evolved into a dynamic specialization of 2-D and 3-D design used in almost every industry.

Computer-aided drafting and design doesn’t just allow you to imagine the possibilities. You can create them, too.

printing out blueprints

But what Professor David Steinhauer likes best about the computer-aided drafting and design (CADD) program at TCC are the options available to students.

“The beauty of our CADD program is it’s a two-year program, and at the end of the two years, a student has the skills to work as a designer, and he or she might spend a career doing that,” said Steinhauer, joint program head with Lorenz Drake for CADD at the Portsmouth Campus. “But our CADD program is also the first two years of the mechanical engineering technology degree at Old Dominion. You can decide after two years at TCC that you want to be an engineer, and you only have two years to go.”

That means students who complete the associate of applied science in mechanical drafting and design technology often work in the fields of mechanical and machine design, structural design, manufacturing or marine design, a popular choice given the area’s plethora of opportunity in ship repair and design. CADD AAS graduates also work with architects, engineers, designers and planners, creating the drawings of design and the related digital date that define the buildings we live in and the goods we buy and use.    

Students working toward their bachelor’s degrees benefit from the college’s guaranteed admission agreement with Old Dominion University. A 33-credit career studies certificate of largely technical classes is another choice for students with a degree in a separate field.

students discuss over a 3D printed modelAnother option attractive for students with curiosity of how things work is architectural CADD, which prepares students for work as drafters or designers in the field of architecture and construction. Professor Sergei Dolgalev is the program head. Graduates can enter the workforce as drafters or designers, though many pursue a master’s in architecture at Hampton University, a bachelor’s in civil engineering technology at Old Dominion or in building construction at Norfolk State University.

“I use everything I learned at TCC on a daily basis,” said Matthew White, a 2011 graduate of the program who is employed at Portsmouth Naval Hospital. “My teachers were awesome, and the classes were awesome, and now I’m actually an architectural drafter, so it all worked out.”

The mechanical and architectural CADD programs are similar, varying by 15 credits. The major evolution for both programs is rapid prototyping or 3-D printing. Students choosing the mechanical option, offered at both the Portsmouth and Virginia Beach campuses, learn CADD procedures to prepare design work for anything from skateboard wheels and golf putters to common industrial products, including ships, building structures, commercial goods and the like.

Students in the architectural program, offered in Virginia Beach only, design actual 3-D models of buildings, forgoing traditional blueprints.

AutoCad class“You can build an object that sits in your home or an actual home,” Steinhauer said. “There’s talk of building an entire car on a 3-D printer.”

Each of the CADD programs allows students to explore their own interests with class projects. Graduated students are proficient in AutoCad, Revit and Inventor, the three primary software programs in the industry. TCC is also an authorized training center for Autodesk software.

The employment rate for CADD technicians is expected to grow at a rate of 6 percent until 2020, according to “Students find jobs,” Steinhauer said. “In this area, companies awarded contracts to build or repair ships often can’t find enough people to hire.”

Students interested in either of the CADD programs can call Steinhauer at 757-822-2424, Drake at 757-822-2426 or Dolgalev at 757-822-7179.