Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Drafters, a thing of the past?

  1. #1
    Associate Engineer
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Posts
    2

    Drafters, a thing of the past?

    Hi all.

    So I'm a pretty green student currently exploring all things engineering. I'm cranking on my prereqs and also taking machining and CAD courses. Diving right into it.

    I have taken an interest in drafting, but it appears that as a specialty this job is on the decline. Advances in technology are evidently allowing engineers to do things that drafters once did, reducing the need for them.

    Is there no future in drafting? Do you believe the job will continue to decline or be phased out? Will drafters continue to be needed in spite of technological advances?

  2. #2
    Lead Engineer Cake of Doom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    383
    Draughtsmen draught, engineers drink ale and play golf. Seriously though, I don't think that job will fade out but it will evolve. Your employers certainly won't want you sitting there and developing drawings whilst there are still stacks of calcs to be done. Your courses will give you an incite into how these programs are operated and there basic functions, but at the end of the day it's not your job.

  3. #3
    Technical Fellow jboggs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Myrtle Beach, SC
    Posts
    718
    In pre-CAD days, engineers did the sketches and calculations, took responsibility for the design, and relied on professional draftsmen to produce clear, readable, and reproducible drawings. Drafting truly was as much art as science. (Study some of the old hand made drawings closely someday. You'll be amazed at the skill involved.)

    In early CAD days that really didn't change much, mainly because CAD systems were so expensive. There was no such thing as a desktop CAD station. Managers did not want to walk through the engineering office and see someone sitting in front of a $100,000 twin-screen CAD station scratching his head. They wanted to see lines being drawn! So the terminology changed a little. We had engineers and "CAD operators". Then as hardware and costs shrank and software capability increased, we began to see engineers with their own CAD systems. I could tell you stories about the transition of the very large old-school engineering firms to the modern days of a CAD system on every desk.

    Well now we have come full circle. Remember I said that engineers used to rely on "professional draftsmen"? Well, now that engineers ARE the draftsmen, in many cases their drafting is so horrible (even with CAD) that it essentially destroys any impression of technical skill. So, yes there is a future in drafting! There will always be a need for good, clear, concise, easily readable, and thorough graphical expressions of technical concepts. Maybe that drafting will be a sub-set of the engineering function, but the need is still there.

    As many old gray-hairs on this forum will tell you - a CAD system does not a good draftsman make! It still takes some planning, care, and effort to produce work that both LOOKS good and IS good.

  4. #4
    Associate Engineer
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Posts
    2
    Quote Originally Posted by jboggs View Post
    In pre-CAD days, engineers did the sketches and calculations, took responsibility for the design, and relied on professional draftsmen to produce clear, readable, and reproducible drawings. Drafting truly was as much art as science. (Study some of the old hand made drawings closely someday. You'll be amazed at the skill involved.)

    In early CAD days that really didn't change much, mainly because CAD systems were so expensive. There was no such thing as a desktop CAD station. Managers did not want to walk through the engineering office and see someone sitting in front of a $100,000 twin-screen CAD station scratching his head. They wanted to see lines being drawn! So the terminology changed a little. We had engineers and "CAD operators". Then as hardware and costs shrank and software capability increased, we began to see engineers with their own CAD systems. I could tell you stories about the transition of the very large old-school engineering firms to the modern days of a CAD system on every desk.

    Well now we have come full circle. Remember I said that engineers used to rely on "professional draftsmen"? Well, now that engineers ARE the draftsmen, in many cases their drafting is so horrible (even with CAD) that it essentially destroys any impression of technical skill. So, yes there is a future in drafting! There will always be a need for good, clear, concise, easily readable, and thorough graphical expressions of technical concepts. Maybe that drafting will be a sub-set of the engineering function, but the need is still there.

    As many old gray-hairs on this forum will tell you - a CAD system does not a good draftsman make! It still takes some planning, care, and effort to produce work that both LOOKS good and IS good.
    I'm much more into drafting than engineering. Do you think it would be worth getting a technical degree in drafting?

  5. #5
    Administrator Kelly Bramble's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Bold Springs, GA
    Posts
    1,939
    Quote Originally Posted by samartin360 View Post
    I'm much more into drafting than engineering. Do you think it would be worth getting a technical degree in drafting?
    Your opportunities would be limited with only a drafting degree, particularly supporting engineering design. I’m not sure what career options are available for drafters in architecture.

    I suggest you focus on an education that will ensure employment – money.
    Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

  6. #6
    Technical Fellow jboggs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Myrtle Beach, SC
    Posts
    718
    I agree. I think you will eventually get bored. You will end up with a "specialty" like structural steel detailing, or house drawings, and you will end up spending your weeks looking forward to Fridays. I say aim higher. You can always back if you want.

  7. #7
    Principle Engineer Cragyon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Newark, NJ
    Posts
    153
    Drafters are still around but only in limited capacity. Not much career upside.

  8. #8
    Associate Engineer
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Central Colorado
    Posts
    8
    Back when I first started my career in the late 1970's.. there were "Design and Drafting" Departments that were separate from "Engineering". A newbie started as a Detailer... then if you were good at that you became a Drafter, then a Designer, then a Senior Designer.

    I always liked working for smaller companies where you wear many hats. I still find drafting to be a rewarding task... and a drafter / designer that has mechanical aptitude and knows how to design for manufacturability is truly a valuable commodity.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •