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Need Help Learning CAD? Try These 3 Online Courses

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About the Author, Liz Miller, Founder/CEO @ Learn Robotics

Liz graduated with a degree in Robotics Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and researched drones at UPenn's GRASP Lab. Liz is a former Raytheon Engineer, where she managed major $MM automation projects worldwide. Today, she's the driving force behind Learn Robotics, offering the Robotics Career Blueprint for Engineering Professionals and beginner courses through the Online Robotics Class. Liz is a third-generation entrepreneur who is all about the application of innovation in robotics, automation, and AI. Follow Liz on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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There are a ton of options when it comes to creating 3D models, drawings, and mechanical engineering designs. And, if you’ve never worked in CAD, it can be a very intimidating process to learn.

In this article, we’ll explore the best online courses to help you accelerate your CAD modeling skills so that you can feel comfortable and confident in creating custom parts and working on 3D designs.

There’s a lot of content in this article, so be sure to bookmark this page for future reference!

But before we dive into which Computer-Aided Design (CAD) courses to take, what is CAD modeling?

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What is Computer-Aided Design (CAD) modeling?

Computer-Aided Design or CAD modeling is the process of taking a 3D object and converting it into a digitized drawing using computer software.

It’s also how engineers communicate part dimensions, features, and specifications before the manufacturing process. Some CAD software tools also provide ways to test material properties and product integrity, which is helpful to ensure that the part meets all its intended requirements.

CAD modeling is especially important if you plan on getting into mechanical, electrical, and robotics engineering.

There are two common types of CAD modeling: 2D and 3D modeling. 2D modeling focuses on layouts, blueprints, and schematics. While 3D modeling is used to visualize parts in 3D space.

If you plan on getting into 3D printing, having some 3D CAD experience will allow you to modify existing files and generate custom designs.

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Where can I learn CAD Online?

There are a bunch of resources to learn CAD modeling online. Some of these courses are self-guided and learn at your own pace, while others have specific enrollment dates.

Be sure to sign up before the enrollment date to have the best experience in the course.

Let’s take a look at the best courses to learn CAD online in 2020.

1. Fusion 360 for Robotics

If CAD modeling is intimidating to you, and you’re trying to break into the mechanical design for the robotics field, then you’ll want to check out the Online Robotics Class. We cover CAD Modeling with Fusion 360 in detail in the 3rd phase of this certification.

You will walk away with confidence knowing how to design full robotics assemblies including end-effectors (EoAT), robot arms, and mobile robots.

Plus, you’ll gain skills in generating custom 3D parts for robots, creating full-scale models, generating drawings, and more! Check it out here (and sign up for our next online cohort).

How to draw robots using CAD and Fusion 360 online course

Details about the CAD Training in the Online Robotics Class

Our class uses Fusion 360 to teach students the fundamentals of CAD modeling with ties to robotics.

The project-based course includes video demonstrations on how to draft, model, and create custom industrial robot arms and mobile robots. If you’re looking for a way to go from zero or limited CAD modeling experience to feeling comfortable designing custom parts, modifying existing assemblies, generating engineering drawings, and prepping files for 3D printing, then you’ll want to check out this course.

Because the course is flexible, you can take as much time on the course as you need to and earn a Full-Stack “Junior Roboticist” certification that covers everything from coding to electronics, to robotics, to 3D Modeling in CAD! If you’re looking for a way to become more well-rounded in robotics, then the Online Robotics Class will cover more than just 3D design, CAD modeling, and Fusion 360.

However, if you’re looking for a more advanced course that only specializes in CAD modeling, or you need to learn a specific CAD modeling software (other than Fusion 360), then I recommend checking out the options below.

2. CAD and Digital Manufacturing Specialization

The CAD and Digital Manufacturing Specialization is offered on Coursera in conjunction with Autodesk. Through this specialization, you will learn the foundations of product innovation and digital manufacturing while developing your technical skills within Fusion 360.

Learn CAD modeling online CAD and Digital Manufacturing Specialization Coursera
Photo Credit: “Drone Skeletal Mesh” by dennis.robinson.dev is licensed under CC BY 4.0

There are five courses in the specialization that will take you roughly six months to complete. After completing the specialization, you’ll receive an Autodesk Credential, that comes with a digital badge and certificate, which you can add to your resume and share on social media platforms.

If you’re looking for a unique way to learn CAD as a way to skyrocket your professional development skills, then you’ll want to check out the CAD and Digital Manufacturing Specialization on Coursera.

Details about the Course

In this course, you’ll use Fusion 360 to design a drone for manufacturing. Unique, right?

Additionally, you can expect to learn how to connect projects in CAD, CAM, and CAE through a series of short exercises on 3D modeling, rendering, simulation, and computer-aided manufacturing.

How to Get Started

Duration6 months
Effort3 hours/wk
PriceFree with Coursera Plus
$49 per month
Sign UpEnroll on Coursera

3. 3D CAD Fundamental

In the 3D CAD Fundamental course offered through Coursera, you’ll learn foundational skills in CAD modeling using SketchUp.

This course is designed for beginner learners who don’t have any experience using CAD. If you have intermediate or advanced CAD skills, I don’t recommend taking this course. (Fusion 360 for Robotics and the CAD Specialization, mentioned above, are better options for working professionals.)

3D CAD Fundamental course on Coursera how to model using SketchUp to learn CAD online
Photo Credit: “robot-screen1” by jcreed is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

However, if you’re looking for a free way to get started in CAD, SketchUp is a good “first” CAD program to use. And even though SketchUp isn’t widely used in many traditional engineering firms, it does offer a free platform to help individuals just get started.

Details about the Course

You don’t need any experience with 3D modeling for this course. I recommend taking this if you feel overwhelmed by hardcore engineering CAD software and want to ease your way into learning CAD modeling without feeling overly stressed about it.

Recent Course Reviews

Short videos. Practical examples and homework exercises. I recommend this course to every aspiring CAD user. It was worth my time. Thanks to the Instructor and Course Administrators.SN
Simply great course. Thank you, professors and their team, the university and Coursera!Anteneh G T

How to Get Started

Effort26 hours
Sign UpEnroll on Coursera

Where can I learn CAD Modeling Online for Free?

Just about all of the paid versions of the courses mentioned above have a free trial, free membership, or free version. If you’re looking for ways to learn without having to pay, and don’t mind limited access, minimal guidance, and fewer credentials, then a free course can get you started.

If you are using the course for career development or a promotion, it’s probably worth paying for the added certificate, specialization, or degree program.

While it might seem like a lot shelling out thousands of dollars, some companies have education allowances and the value of a salary increase could make it well worth the initial investment.

Just think about where a 5-10% promotion could land you! Especially if you’re the only person on staff with the ability to translate ideas into 3D renderings, engineering drawings, and CAD files.

Related: Popular 3D Printing Courses To Help You Get Started

CAD Modeling YouTube Channels

You can always go the traditional route and use YouTube and blog articles to learn more about CAD modeling. Some YouTube channels worth checking out are below:

While these resources are free, they require more dedication and patience and typically don’t provide the guidance that courses do. But they’re free and you can choose what you want to learn and when to learn it.

The biggest benefit to online courses is the ability to practice with projects and quizzes and to earn certificates that can be used for career advancement.

Related Courses You May Like

What CAD Software Should I use?

My favorite CAD software has been Fusion 360 from Autodesk because it’s easy to draft models and prep them for 3D printing later. However, depending on where you work and what software licenses you have access to, there are many CAD modeling options out there.

Here are a few popular choices for CAD software:

Depending on your budget, goals, and requirements, you may have to learn one or more CAD modeling software packages. The good news is that the principles of CAD modeling are the same no matter which software you end up using. The only differences are the shortcuts and workflows for creating models.

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Which CAD Course will you take?

Are you thinking about taking an online CAD course? Which one are you considering? Be sure to let me know in the comments below!

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Liz Miller Learn Robotics

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