The Subject Matter.
Designers and drafters are the important link between a great idea and a tangible product, building, process, or service. They learn the language necessary to communicate great ideas into reality. Behind all of the products and services that have improved our standard of living are numerous technical drawings created by professionals skilled in drafting fundamentals. Students of drafting technology study everything from idea generation through sketching, to product specification through working and assembly drawings, to product realization through construction and manufacturing processes and materials. Solid modeling software is also becoming increasingly important because the models created can be seen, analyzed, and simulated without actually being built. The CAD drawings and models created in the design phase of the project are now often used to drive the automated equipment during the actual construction.
Most courses are generally taught using a lecture, demonstration, and assignment format. An instructor might begin by introducing a new concept through a lecture and demonstration, and then assign students a drawing assignment to tests, develop, and reinforce the concept presented. Final projects are also given to allow students to demonstrate proficiency of the course material using a project of their choosing as the vehicle. Final projects and other student work may be incorporated into a portfolio that is useful during job interviews. The lecture and laboratory assignment are usually given in a classroom that is equipped with lecture equipment (whiteboards, data projectors, screens, etc.) and lab equipment (computer workstations, printers, drawing boards, etc.). In some cases lecture and lab activities are carried out in different classrooms. Drafting boards are still used to teach fundamental principles such as sketching and projection principles at some institutions, though boards are being replaced by computer workstations.
Students are typically challenged when trying to visualize and describe objects in three-dimensions. The ability to visualize or see an object in three dimensions is a skill that must be learned by most students it does not come naturally. Developing these visualization skills can be challenging for students because the concepts are somewhat abstract (they are developed in the minds eye).
Students - who are not familiar with computers face is learning a CAD software package while, at the same time, learning the basics of computer operating systems.
The Academic Life Style
The academic lifestyle of students pursuing degrees in drafting technology is driven by the two major student populations: recent high school graduates, and people who are returning to school to be re-trained for a new profession. Recent high school graduates usually take coursework during the day with students whose age and interests more resemble their own. Evening courses are typically taken by adults who are working a full-time job during the day. It may be necessary for students to take course at times that are not convenient to them if the school or program is small in number and they want to finish the program quickly.