There is a great variety of software packages for engineers out there, and you could get lost searching for your best fit. However, there are some basic choices everyone in the field should be familiar with, which are essential and approachable for students as well.
Being able to access engineering software during your education is of great importance. Most universities or college programs have computer labs on campus, equipped with the necessary software you need to complete your projects and master your skills, but as any engineering student would tell you, relying solely on lab access is hardly ever enough; you’ll need your own software.
Below, we’ll go through the most essential and popular choices of the three software categories vital for all students of engineering: design, analysis/simulation and coding. Bear in mind that most engineering programs are quite resource-intensive, therefore you might want to check some of the best laptops for engineers.
3D modeling software is required for most industries and used in studies, since it enables you to materialize your designs for mechanical engineering projects.
Computer Aided Design (CAD) Software
A 3D CAD (Computer Aided Design) package is essential to any student that emphasizes design. This software allows you to build 3D models of parts and then combine them into assemblies.
Audodesk’s AutoCAD Mechanical is the most essential tool of any engineering student. It combines the functionality of basic AutoCAD with customized mechanical tools, allowing you to document CAD models, restore and isolate layers, etc.
This is another, greatly popular 3D modeling software for engineers and designers. SolidWorks has a very accessible interface, allowing you to create machinery parts and do incredible mechanical drawings.
Analysis or Simulation Software
While physical testing has limits in terms of budget and time management, with the help of simulation and analysis, you can visualise your projects in a timely and cost-effective manner.
This is a favourite amongst mechanical engineering students, perfect for complex numerical analysis and calculations. With such an amazing plotting capability, it is easy to run simulations and display immediate results; plus, MATLAB offers a lot of additional libraries to purchase, which would enable you to optimize and control system design even better.
If you’re working on complex computational fluid dynamics (CFD), you’ll need to use coding language (Python, Java, C++) and the appropriate software.
Python is the most popular as far as coding languages go. Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that it’s a general purpose programming language, meaning that it’s not developed to be specifically tailored for scientific programming ―even though it’s great for that use. Except for numerical analysis, you can use Python to work on your file system and database, or build a website from scratch, among other potential uses.