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What is CAD?

CAD stands for Computer-aided Design, referring to the use of computers to aid the design process. People use CAD to represent 3D models of real-life objects or ideas. CAD is also a useful step to manufacture the 3D models.

Capabilities of CAD


Manufacturing Solutions

CAD is closely tied with manufacturing solutions like 3D-printing and CNC-ing. In order to 3D-print or CNC, you must give the printer a 3D design file. By knowing how to CAD and with access to a 3D-printer or CNC, you can turn an idea, into a 3D design file, into a physical object very quickly. We use many manufactured parts on our robot.

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Easy Visualization

Many separate parts make up our competition robot and CAD allows us to visualize organized 3D designs with many parts working together.​


Allows for Quick Design Cycles

While we were designing our own 3D printed face shield frames for our Face Shield Initiative, there was a lot of fine tuning of the design. CAD made this cycle of revisions easy, as we could simply copy our old face shield design and and make the necessary tweaks, like increasing the width of the frame to fit different head sizes. Then, we would send the designs to our 3D printers, and within hours, we had a face shield frame we could put on. While designing the face shields, we went through 5 face shield frame design cycles in one day.

Many, Many, Many Real World Applications

Using computers to aid design cycles could be applied to practically everything. The device you are reading this on would never exist without CAD, as it was designed meticulously by engineers. Modern bridges and skyscrapers are CAD-ed and some softwares are even smart enough to simulate loads, like cars on a bridge, to test the optimal shape of structures, how much weight it can carry, and weak points in the design. CAD is and will continue to be the driving force of innovation for years and years.

How do I learn CAD?

There is a steep learning curve to learning CAD, but with the right aid and mindset, its smooth sailing.


The first step to learning how to CAD is to decide on a CAD software. There are many choices and each have its own features. We have an article here that goes in depth about different free CAD softwares to learn. After that, there are many useful YouTube videos on each CAD software. Most of our design team members started learning how to CAD by a quick search on YouTube. Additionally, many CAD tools can be learned by simply googling the tool.


If you find that you learn better with personalized approach, though, our design team teaches 2 week long CAD summer courses with the Autodesk Fusion 360 software for complete beginners. Check out our website to learn more.


The last ingredients are time and commitment. CAD isn't something that can be learned quickly because of its many features; it took many of our members months to reach a comfortable level of understanding.

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