In general, degree programs that emphasize the use of computer-aided design (CAD) software can be found at 2-year colleges and 4-year universities that provide education in drafting as well as in architectural, construction and engineering technology. AutoCAD, which is a type of CAD software, is often part of the coursework.
Along with associate's degrees, some schools also offer certificates and diplomas in computer-aided design and drafting. Once enrolled, students might choose areas of concentration. Some schools may allow for the transfer of credits to higher-level programs. Students of some schools could choose online study options and participate in drafting internships. Read on to learn about the programs featured at the eight schools highlighted below, which include:
- CAD Technical Certificate
- Technical Certificate in Architectural Design
- Manufacturing Engineering Technology
- Drafting and Design
- 3D Parametric Modeling With SolidWorks Certificate
- Diploma in CAD and Drafting Technology
Chattanooga State Community College
Through the Division of Engineering Technology at this community college in Chattanooga, students can gain AutoCAD instruction through a certificate program in computer-aided drafting for aspiring technicians and experienced professionals. Besides AutoCAD, students learn to work with architectural, engineering and graphic design software.
Those who want CAD and AutoCAD training as part of a broader program can choose from one of 10 concentrations in the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) program in Engineering Technology. These include civil, chemical, manufacturing, mechanical and construction engineering, among others. The course in CAD engineering drawing, required by each one of the concentrations, teaches students how to create computer-based drawings using AutoCAD for electrical work, pipes and structural steel. In particular, the design and drafting concentration covers topics in 3-D solid modeling, and students have the opportunity to pursue two technical electives in CAD. ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) has accredited the school's mechanical, civil and manufacturing programs.
Cleveland State Community College
Cleveland's community college in southeast Tennessee offers academic transfer and vocational degrees in civil and electrical engineering, drafting and a variety of related technologies.
Undergraduates learn to use AutoCAD software as part of a 2-course sequence in CAD in the college's degree program in drafting and design. They also learn about 3-D modeling and CAD mapping with Land Desktop software. In the second year, students complete a series of working drawings that demonstrate their knowledge of basic and advanced CAD technology. Individuals in this program choose to emphasize their education in one of 3 areas.
Technical certificate programs include architectural design, civil technology, construction and industrial automation, and each one requires a course in CAD, with AutoCAD training. In particular, the 13-credit mechanical drafting certificate program incorporates the same CAD training found in the 2-year drafting and design curriculum, and students can also take a course in engineering graphics.
Nashville State Community College
Located in the capital of Nashville, this state community college specializes in technical education, including programs in computer-aided drafting, engineering technology and electrical engineering. These programs are available through the division of Business, Applied Arts and Technology, and individual courses of study provide training in CAD.
The computer-aided drafting technical certificate program allows students to specialize in 1 of 4 concentrations, including architectural, electrical or civil and construction engineering, as well as horticulture and landscaping. These short-term training options offer training in AutoCAD software, as well as coursework particular to the chosen concentration. Graduates can apply courses from this program toward associate degree programs in architectural engineering technology or general technology.
Students can also choose to pursue an Associate of Applied Science program with a concentration in architectural engineering or civil and construction engineering. Depending on the area of specialization, undergraduates can take an introductory course or a sequence in CAD drafting, train in the use of Revit Architecture software or learn how to render residential construction and design drawings.
Northeast State Community College
Northeast State Community College is located in Blountville, and the Advanced Technologies Division offers industrial technology programs in engineering design or manufacturing, which include training in computer-aided design, as well as a certificate program in computer-aided drafting.
While not including coursework in AutoCAD, this 26-credit certificate program requires courses in CAD, engineering graphics and geometrical dimensioning, among other topics. Credits may be transferable to a related degree program.
Undergraduates in the engineering associate design program can take a course in advanced CAD and pursue technology electives in architectural and pipe drafting. Relevant coursework can also be found in the manufacturing engineering program, including an introduction to computer-aided drafting and training in the use of Master Cam (computer aided manufacturing) software.
Pellissippi State Community College
This technical school in Knoxville offers certificate and degree programs in computer-aided design and engineering technology.
Certificate programs include a 15-credit certificate program in 3-D parametric modeling that can help to prepare students for careers in CAD management and operations. Credits earned through these programs can be applied towards degree programs in civil or mechanical engineering.
The Associate of Applied Science program in engineering technology allows for a concentration in civil engineering with a specialization in architectural design technology. This highly specialized course of study includes beginning and advanced labs in AutoCAD, as well as training in 3-D modeling.
Southern Adventist University
At Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, students can gain AutoCAD and CAD training through associate degree programs in construction management. The Technology Department also offers individual courses that may used to fulfill the requirements for a minor.
Southwest Tennessee Community College
Southwest Tennessee Community College has five campuses and centers in Memphis, as well as two other locations in Somerville and Millington. ABET accredits the architectural design concentration, one of two available through the architectural engineering technology program.
Students who specialize in architectural design may be eligible for an advanced lab in CAD that provides an introduction to 3-D modeling and production standards. The curriculum for the concentration in civil engineering and construction technology also requires 1 course in computer-aided drawing with training in AutoCAD.
The purpose of the 19-credit architectural and construction certificate program is to help high school graduates and aspiring professionals prepare for an entry-level career in the field. Training topics include drawing, engineering technology and an in-depth study of AutoCAD.
Additional coursework can be found in the electrical and electronic certificate program, where students can learn how to draft and plot block, circuit and schematic drawings.
Tennessee College of Applied Technology Nashville
Nashville is one of over two dozen Tennessee Technology Center locations in the state, created from a workforce development initiative associated with the Tennessee Board of Regents. Full-time offerings include certificate and diploma programs in CAD and drafting technology that can take between 432 and 2,160 clock hours to complete. These drafting and CAD technology programs are also offered online and at Memphis and Morristown, two of the largest sites in the center network.
The purpose of the program is to help aspiring technicians obtain the skills they need to design and prepare electronic drawings for circuits, machines and maps. The module-based course of study includes topics in, among other areas, AutoCAD, geometric construction, technical illustration and working drawings. In addition to the basic curriculum, students can pursue specializations in architectural or mechanical drafting, as well as a supplemental certificate in CAD technology.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||AutoCAD & CAD Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)|
|Chattanooga State Community College||2-year, public; midsize city||CAD Technology Certificate,
AAS in Engineering Technology
|$4,063 in-state; $15,727 out-of-state*|
|Cleveland State Community College||2-year, public; small city|| Technical Certificate in Architectural Design, Civil technology, Mechanical Drafting, Construction or Industrial Automation Fundamentals,
AAS in Drafting and Design
|$4,235 in-state; $16,523 out-of-state*|
|Nashville State Community College||2-year, public; large city|| Computer-Aided Drafting Technical Certificate,
AAS in Architectural, Civil and Construction Technology
|$4,191 in-state; $16,479 out-of-state*|
|Northeast State Community College||2-year, public; fringe rural||Computer-Aided Drafting Certificate,
AAS in Engineering Design Technology,
AAS in Manufacturing Engineering Technology
|$4,248 in-state; $16,536 out-of-state*|
|Pellissippi State Community College||2-year, public; large suburb|| 3D Parametric Modeling With SolidWorks Certificate,
AAS in Engineering Technology
|$4,276 in-state; $16,564 out-of-state*|
|Southern Adventist University||4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb||Associate of Technology in Construction Management||$21,950*|
|Southwest Tennessee Community College||2-year, public; large city||Architectural/Construction Fundamentals Technical Certificate,
AAS in Architectural Engineering Technology
|$4,255 in-state; $16,543 out-of-state*|
|Tennessee College of Applied Technology Nashville||2-year, public; large city||Detail Drafter Certificate,
Drafting & CAD Technician Diploma,
Mechanical Drafter Diploma,
Architectural Drafter Diploma
Sources: *NCES College Navigator, **Tennessee Technology Center at Nashville.