Even in this age of virtual reality, online tutorials, and videos—whether they’re embedded in computer-aided design and analysis tools or purchased separately–have a significant role to play for engineers learning new software packages.
Engineering organizations can cut costs by using instructional videos to circumvent the need for formal training. That cost savings is thanks to the today’s video quality and to the capability to embed videos in all types of digital applications and documents. That, coupled with many engineers’ familiarity with watching and using instructional videos via YouTube and other Internet sites, makes online training second nature for today’s engineers.
For example, Alexander Dennis Ltd., a bus manufacturer headquartered in Larbert, Scotland, has cut by weeks the time needed to prepare simulation-ready models of bus chassis and frames. Time savings has come through use of the MSC Apex Modeler tool, said Steven Wheeldon, a Alexander Dennis structural engineer. The tool, from MSC Software, is used for FEA pre-processing.
The manufacturer has produced the Alexander Dennis Enviro200 bus since 2003.
Before a computer-aided design model can be analyzed through the finite element analysis process, the model first needs to be “cleaned up” and meshed.
Engineers learned to use the tool through use of tutorial videos and documents embedded within the software, Wheeldon added.
“The videos and documents allow the user to become quickly proficient in its use within the need for any formal training,” he said.
Those learning CAD itself, no matter their age, role, or where they’re at on the learning curve, also benefit from online and video training modules.
For instance, earlier this month Pluralsight, a provider of online learning courses, announced its partnership with GoEngineer, a SolidWorks reseller, to create 50 new SolidWorks courses for CAD students of all levels by year’s end.
For makers who aren’t trained engineers, GoEngineer is set to contribute 20 courses per year that focus on engineering training, according to the company.
Those looking for AutoCAD tutorials can find them at sites like www.mycadsite.com, which offers free tutorials designed to be compatible with as many versions of AutoCAD as possible. The tutorials are based on AutoCAD 2016, but will also apply to older versions, according to the site’s owner Art Whitton, a mechanical engineer and teacher. The lessons and videos on that site move from beginners’ level, through 3D drafting, and on to advanced use.
Others who use products from Autodesk, there’s also www.cadlearning.com (in addition to many other sites), which boasts a library of learning materials that stays current with software releases for AutoCAD, Civil 3D, Inventor, Maya, Revit, 3ds Max, and other Autodesk tools. Learning is self-paced, meaning users can move through the training at their own speed and without a looming deadline.
For bus maker Alexander Dennis Ltd., the CAD cleanup and meshing tool came just in time (as did the attendant videos detailing how to use the tool). This week, the company delivered to Go Ahead London the first five of the 74 Enviro400 hybrid double decker busses planned for the Go Ahead London fleet. The busses run on both gasoline and electric power.
The bus maker plans to introduce the remaining 69 new Alexander Dennis MMC models to the Go Ahead London fleet through the end of the year. The additions form part of a strategy that will see Go Ahead London increase its hybrid fleet to 600 by the end of the year, to represent 26 percent of their total 2,300 vehicles, said Richard Harrington, Go Ahead London engineering director.
For his part, Wheeldon the structural engineer at the bus maker, looks forward to even more time savings ahead as others learn from the video tutorial that accompanies the FEA preprocessing tool.
“The weeks we save provides us valuable time to focus on product improvement and other important aspects of the business,” he said.
Filed Under: 3D CAD World, Virtual reality