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Cad Software Industry Trends And Directions

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.131.1 - 3.131.8

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Paper Authors

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Patrick E. Connolly

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3538

CAD Software Industry Trends and Directions

Patrick E. Connolly Purdue University

Abstract There is an interesting and unique relationship between technical industry and college level academic engineering and technology programs. This relationship is constantly evolving and redefining itself, reflecting both the accelerating level of technological change in industry, as well as the flexible and somewhat fickle focus of the industrial environment. In order to produce graduates that are well prepared for industry and that can be immediately productive in an industrial/technical setting, college and university engineering and technology programs must be knowledgeable regarding the trends affecting industry and incorporate into their academic curricula the necessary and relevant material to meet those goals. The engineering design graphics field is especially subject to rapid technological change, due to fundamental changes in how industry views the design process, and the pace at which computer hardware and software improvements are introduced and incorporated into standard procedures.

This paper reviews current trends in the computer aided design high-end software industry, with discussion regarding the direction and focus that CAD industry leaders are taking with their products, and the applications industry needs that are driving those developments. The impact of these changes and trends on academic programs is addressed, including recommendations as to what portion of these developments should be incorporated into the curriculum, and what college and university engineering graphics programs should do to prepare their students for these developments in industry.

Introduction Trying to analyze the ever changing and dynamic trends and directional movement of the CAD software industry can be roughly compared to trying to analyze the stock market: one must deal with a seemingly infinite number of outside forces affecting an incredible number of constantly moving reference points at an ever accelerating rate of speed. The complexity of the task can be overwhelming, and the results will more often than not make the analyzer appear as either misinformed, foolish, or totally incompetent.

In spite of this, there appears to be some practical value in attempting to make such an analysis. As one reviews the path that the CAD industry has taken over the past several years, or even decades, several ‘threads’ or trends emerge that can be projected out into the near future. If accurate, these projections can be of great benefit to us as educators, simply due to the impact of this technology on today’s industrial products, and, therefore, society as a whole. Industry consultants have stated, “Eighty percent of the manufacturing gross national product passes through CAD, CAM, and CAE systems at some point. Every vehicle, aircraft, sophisticated electronics system, most industrial and manufacturing equipment, and most consumer products depend upon these tools.”1 Although, realistically, we cannot expect academia to be able to provide all the latest ‘bells and whistles’ of CAD industry developments to all our students as


Connolly, P. E. (1998, June), Cad Software Industry Trends And Directions Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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