Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE)

What is Computer Aided Engineering (CAE)

Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE)

Computer-aided engineering (CAE) is the method of using computers in design, analysis, and manufacturing of a product, process, or project. CAE relates to most elements of CADD in industry. CAE is often recognized as the umbrella discipline that involves several computer-aided technologies including but not limited to, CAD, computer-aided industrial design (CAID), CAD/CAM, CNC, CIM, and PDM, plus the Internet and other technologies to collaborate on projects.
CAE often focuses on mechanical design and product development automation. Some of the most familiar elements of CAE are surface and solid modeling and the simulation, analysis, testing, and optimization of mechanical structures and systems using digital prototypes. FEA is a process often associated with CAE.


Computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) and related computer-aided technologies offer revolutionary tools for engineers and drafters to use during the engineering design process. CADD enhances design creativity, efficiency, and effectiveness when appropriately applied to product development. There are many different forms of accepted engineering design processes and integration of CADD within the engineering design process.

Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE)

The figure shows a simplified sample of an engineering design process for a lift hook. The lift hook example and the following information is an introduction to CADD in the engineering design process.

STEP - 1

Step 1 is to identify the problem and design constraints. A constraint is a condition, such as a specific size, shape, or requirement, that defines and restricts a design and must be satisfied in order to achieve a successful design. The problem statement in Figure, Step 1 describes the requirements and constraints for a forged-steel lift hook able to support a 3000-pound load.

STEP - 2

Step 2 is to sketch an initial design according to a possible solution to the problem. The sketch in Figure, Step 2, is hand-drawn. You can use CADD as a sketching tool, and some CADD systems require you to create a digital sketch as an element of the CADD process. However, hand-drawn sketches are
common practice, especially during early design.

STEP - 3

Step 3 is to generate the initial three-dimensional (3-D) computer-aided design (CAD) solid model according to the hand-drawn sketch. You can now study the model using finite element analysis (FEA) software. FEA applies the finite element method (FEM) to solve mathematical equations related to engineering design problems, such as structural and thermal problems.

STEP - 4

The figure, Step 4 shows a structural stress analysis applied to the lift hook to simulate a real-world lift.

STEP - 5

Step 5 is to optimize the design to reduce material and improve shape while maintaining an acceptable working strength. You can perform design optimization using manual calculations and tests, repeated FEA simulation, or design-optimization software. The figure, Step 5 shows the optimized lift hook CAD solid model.

STEP - 6

Step 6 is to reanalyze the model to confirm a solution to the design problem.

STEP - 7

The final step 7 is to use the CAD solid model to prepare two-dimensional (2-D) detail drawings and a digital format of the model supported by computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software. The manufacturer uses the supplied data to create the forging equipment necessary to produce the lift hook.


A wide variety of jobs are available for qualified CADD professionals. Keep in mind that the kinds of tasks may not always be traditional drafting functions. In addition to creating drawings, you can be responsible for working in some of the following areas:

• Preparing freehand sketches on the shop floor or at a job site and then converting the sketch to a finished CADD drawing.
• Digital image creation and editing.
• Text documents such as reports, proposals, and studies.
• Incorporation of CADD drawings and images into text documents.
• Conducting research for job proposals, feasibility studies, or purchasing specifications.
• Evaluating and testing new software.
• Training staff members in the use of new software or procedures.
• Collecting vendor product information for new projects.
• Speaking on the phone and dealing personally with vendors, clients, contractors, and engineers.
• Checking drawings and designs created by others for accuracy.
• Researching computer equipment and preparing bid specifications for purchase.

Human-resource directors who most often hire employees agree that persons who possess a set of good general skills usually become good employees. The best jobs are found by those students who have developed a good working understanding of the project planning process and can apply it to any situation.

The foundation on which this process is based rests on the person’s ability to communicate well orally, apply solid math skills (through trigonometry), write clearly, exhibit good problem-solving skills, and know how to use resources to conduct research and find information. These general qualifications also serve as the foundation for the more specific skills of your area of study. These include good working knowledge of drawing layout and construction techniques based on applicable standards and a good grasp of CADD software used to create drawings and models.

In addition, those students who possess the skills needed to customize the CADD software to suit their specific needs may be in demand. What is most important for the prospective drafter to remember is the difference between content and process. This was discussed previously in this chapter but deserves a quick review. Content applies to the details of an object, procedure, or situation. Given enough time, you can find all of the pieces of information needed to complete a task, such as creating a drawing or designing a model.

Process refers to a method of doing something, usually involving a number of steps. By learning a useful process, you will find it easier to complete any task and find all of the information (content) you need. It is beneficial to learn a good process for problem-solving and project planning that can be used in any situation. By using the process for any task, it becomes easier to determine what content is needed.

For these reasons, it is strongly recommended that you focus your efforts on learning and establishing good problem solving and project-planning habits. These skills make the task of locating the content you need for any project easier and contribute to making all aspects of your life more efficient, productive, and relaxing.

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