Who Are CAD Engineers And Designers?

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Cad Jobs at Martin Marietta

At the Orlando, Florida facility on Sand Lake Road, (there's another Martin Marietta plant across town), Mc Eachnie says they're still using drafters. "We will probably always use them," he believes. "And maybe the CAD industry will realize we need more of them. They should have at least a junior college education, but they don't need the four- or five-year engineering degrees."

Mc Eachnie uses three men and two women in this department. Some are drafters who worked up the ladder; others are graduates of two-year colleges. One young drafter was started at $300 a week, in October 1985, and others in the department go up to $600 a week. Drafters here use Apollo computers to take schematics from the circuit engineers, using a computer system, and making them understandable. They do simple tasks on MM's design cycles...tasks like being sure the documentation agrees with the rest of the database and the initial job requirements. Even though all material is on database, says Mc Eachnie, government projects require drawings-a duplicate effort he sees continuing for 5 to 10 years in the future. "They're really taking the data from the design database, bringing it up on screen on the CAD system and putting it in a drafting format, and verifying that this is what the initial requirements specified," he explains. "In other words, they are doing drafting on a CAD system, supplementing the engineers."

Mc Eachnie says that the old industry feeling was, if you were a drafter, you were a drafter forever; if you were an engineer, you were an engineer forever. "CAD may be giving people who have a lot of ability, but not necessarily the formal education supposedly required, a chance to keep moving up," he feels. "Previously, it was all locked in."

Mc Eachnie explains further. "Some people are extremely adept at using computer systems. They let the computer do what it should do. Even some of our engineers don't understand that principle well. So CAD may allow a path for coming up for the person who is really good, with skills in these fields. Previously, I always thought there was a big wall between the drafting, whatever that level was, and the engineer. I think CAD is helping to break that wall down."

The next highest level in Mc Eachnie's division is engineers/ designers. Most of them have four-year degrees in mechanical engineering, but some have worked their way up. It's hard, McEachnie says, for "old-timers" to migrate to CAD.. .he estimates that only one out of 10 makes it. "I think they're afraid of the computers," he theorizes. "They seem afraid that the computer is taking over their job, or believe that all their hard-earned expertise won't be useful anymore."

Today's atmosphere, Mc Eachnie feels, finds the electrical engineers becoming digital engineers, specializing in RF or high frequencies, and doing design and analysis. Mechanical engineers, on the other hand, have a more practical approach, he says, because they deal in hardware. "We still need to build the CAD system that links these electrical designs and the actual hardware," Mc Eachnie says, "because all the design in the world isn't worth anything if you don't build hardware."

New engineers and designers started at $700-$900 bi-weekly in fall, 1985, and could work their way up to $2000 bi-weekly. Lead engineers, in charge of groups, range $300-$400 above that, Mc Eachnie says. He feels Martin Marietta in Orlando is compatible with most of the aerospace industry, because firms across the country are highly competitive. Over the United States, he says, there are salary differences, depending on the field and the cost of living in a particular geographic area. California is higher, he says, because the cost-of-living is higher than Florida, while North Carolina is slightly cheaper.

A CAD Group Engineer

Working under Mc Eachnie in CAD at Martin Marietta is Steven Summers, 44, group engineer who supervises 12 people. "One woman and two men are doing schematic documentation on the Apollo Mentor," he says. "Two others are doing documentation for printed wiring boards, five people are doing printed wiring board design, and two are doing programming."

Steve estimates he spends 40 percent of his time on administration, supervision, and personnel issues; 10 percent in meetings or conferences; 20 percent in taking care of hardware or software problems; and much of the remainder involved with detail and design.

An important part of his job: constantly evaluating new CAD systems on the market.

He reads seven magazines regularly and three or four other trade magazines off and on.

Steve, who knows 10 programming languages, earns between $45,000 and $50,000 a year-par for the Florida location, he says, and for aerospace. "They're paying me to come in and play," he says. "I'm basically a puzzle-solver. When we're working on programs, it's a real joy. Every day is a new day."
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