The First Semester
No prior technical drawing or CAD experience is necessary before enrolling in the A&E CAD program. However, in the first semester all students are required to take DFTG 1405 – Technical Drafting. In this course, students learn to apply the fundamentals of drafting, along with AutoCAD basics, to create technical drawings. The multidisciplinary curriculum of DFTG 1405 includes projects from the fields of architectural, mechanical, electronic, and civil CAD.
DFTG 1405 is the prerequisite for the second semester courses required in each specialization area (DFTG 1417, DFTG 1433, and DFTG 2430). Since most A&E CAD students are limited to taking DFTG 1405 in their first semester, new students often co-enroll for required general education courses or approved technical electives that do no require DFTG 1405 as a prerequisite.
The Second Semester
Once the DFTG 1405 prerequisite has been met, students can choose their second-semester courses from the following required courses: DFTG 1417, DFTG 1433 and DFTG 2430; and from the following restricted electives: DFTG 1458, DFTG 2412, DFTG 2419, DFTG 2431, and DFTG 2470. The courses on the preceding list can be used to meet the prerequisites for many of the program’s advanced courses. See an A&E CAD advisor for more information.
The faculty of the A&E CAD program are available to advise you at any stage in the process. Click here to locate an A&E CAD advisor.
Supporting Student Success – Free Tutoring and CAD Software Downloads
The A&E CAD department provides free tutoring on weekdays and weekends at the Northridge campus. A&E CAD students are also eligible to download full versions of AutoCAD and other software onto their home computers at no charge. After enrolling in classes, students can view tutorial videos and other helpful materials created by the department through Blackboard, ACC’s on-line curriculum delivery system. In addition, ACC offers a wide range of tutoring to students enrolled in general education courses.
Enrolling at ACC
Future Student FAQs
A&E CAD covers the technology, skills, knowledge, and techniques used in the creation of technical drawings. Technical drawing is a broad term that includes the graphics used by manufacturers to fabricate electronic and mechanical products, and by construction professionals to produce architectural structures (houses and buildings) and civil engineering projects (roads, dams, bridges). Other terms that describe the creation of technical drawings are: drafting, engineering graphics, engineering drawing, and CAD (Computer Aided Design).
Technical drawings are usually created by drafters under the supervision of a designer, engineer, or architect. Drafters may work from rough sketches, specifications, codes, calculations, or three-dimensional (3D) models to create the required drawings. Most drafting is now produced by CAD software. Consequently some drafters are referred to as CAD operators. Some common CAD product names include: AutoCAD, Civil 3D, Inventor, Revit, SolidWorks, CATIA, Pro/ENGINEER, Cadence, Mentor Graphics, CADKEY, MicroStation, and ArchiCAD.
According to the US Department of Labor (2011), “Demand for particular drafting specialties varies throughout the country because employment usually is contingent on the needs of local industry. Opportunities should be best for individuals with at least 2 years of postsecondary training in a drafting program that provides strong technical skills and considerable experience with CADD systems. CADD has increased the complexity of drafting applications while enhancing the productivity of drafters. It also has enhanced the nature of drafting by creating more possibilities for design and drafting. As technology continues to advance, employers will look for drafters with a strong background in fundamental drafting principles, a high level of technical sophistication, and the ability to apply their knowledge to a broader range of responsibilities.”
Note: Demand for particular drafting specialties varies throughout the country because employment usually is contingent on the needs of local industry.
Most drafters acquire their training by attending community college or technical school programs that lead to a certificate or Associate degree in engineering graphics or CAD.
Salaries for entry-level CAD drafters generally fall between the mid-twenties to low-forties range. According to the US Department of Labor (May 2010), median earnings for experienced CAD drafters vary by specialty, location, and level of responsibility:
- Median annual earnings of architectural and civil drafters were $48,510.
- Median annual earnings of mechanical drafters were $52,560.
- Median annual earnings of electrical and electronics drafters were $55,150.
Architectural drafters work with architects and designers in the preparation of drawings necessary to build a structure. Study of construction techniques and materials, as well as building codes are important to the education of an architectural drafter. Architectural drafters may specialize in an area such as residential architecture (homes), commercial architecture (office buildings, apartments), or structural drafting (steel buildings, concrete structures).
Mechanical drafters work with mechanical engineers and designers to prepare detail and assembly drawings of a wide variety of machinery and mechanical devices. They may be involved in specifying design elements such as the types of fasteners (nuts, bolts, screws) needed to assemble the machine. Mechanical drafters are usually trained in engineering techniques as well as manufacturing theory and standards.
Aeronautical or Aerospace drafters prepare engineering drawings detailing plans and specifications used in the manufacture of aircraft, missiles, and related parts.
Civil drafters prepare drawings and topographical and relief maps for construction or civil engineering projects, such as highways, bridges, pipelines, flood control projects, and water and sewage systems. Civil drafters may also work for Surveying companies creating site plans and layouts for new subdivisions.
Electrical drafters prepare wiring and layout diagrams used by workers who install and repair electrical equipment and wiring in electrical distribution systems and buildings.
Electronics drafters draw wiring diagrams, circuit board assembly diagrams, schematics, and layout drawings used in the manufacture, installation, and repair of electronic devices and components.
Process piping or pipeline drafters prepare drawings used in the layout, construction, and operation of oil and gas fields, refineries, chemical plants, and process piping systems.
- Are you a quick learner (will you contribute quickly)?
- Are you intelligent, competent, energetic?
- Will you fit into our team?
- Do your instructors speak well of you?
- Did you make good grades in your major?
- Do you meet deadlines?
- Are you able to work well in groups as well as individually?
- Are you prepared by your training to do the job?
- Can you communicate well with others (both verbally and in writing)?
- Do you have good work habits?
- Are you dependable?
- Will the employer profit from your efforts?
Recommendation: Work hard, study hard, develop good work habits, set high standards for yourself, create excellent drawings for your portfolio, be able to explain how and why you did things a certain way, come to class prepared and on-time, meet your deadlines, impress your instructors with your work habits and attitude, keep your best foot forward and your face into the wind . . . !
The availability of employment opportunities varies with the health of the economy. When employers contact us seeking to hire A&E CAD students, we try to match qualified students to these openings. We refer only students who have proven—by their superior performance and work ethic in the classroom —that they will be good candidates. Only in this way can we assure the continuation of the good reputation of this department and its graduates.
Our website contains an online Employment Center that is available only to our students and alumni. Employers can post job openings to our website, where students can view them and follow up if they are interested.
All A&E CAD graduates must complete the capstone course, in which they develop a portfolio and resume suitable for interviewing.
The Bottom Line: Good students, with good work habits, good grades, and excellent portfolios make good employees. Ultimately, you are responsible for making yourself employable, but we will assist you in the preparation and execution of your job search.
Select the field based upon your interests, aptitudes, and talents. While electronics is generally the highest paying A&E CAD field, it can also be the most competitive, stressful, and rapidly-changing as well.
If you are good at what you do, and enjoy doing it, the monetary rewards, as well as job satisfaction, will follow. For example, if you love architecture, do it. You’ll probably never be as happy designing integrated circuits as you will designing houses.
On the other hand, if you enjoy the challenge of a fast paced, often stressful environment, try the electronics field. Be prepared for the rapidly changing technology that will constantly affect the nature of your job and possibly your career.
Changes in CAD technology are creating new jobs in the areas of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Computer-Aided-Manufacturing (CAM). Jobs and job descriptions that do not exist today will be created as the impact of new technologies are felt in the architectural and engineering graphics field.
Three credit hours of math are required for Associate of Applied Science degree programs offered by public institutions in Texas.
Any of the following courses can be used to meet the math requirement:
MATH 1314 College Algebra
MATH 1316 Trigonometry
MATH 1324 Math for Business & Economics
MATH 1332 College Mathematics
MATH 1333 Mathematics for Measurement
MATH 1342 Elementary Statistics
MATH 2318 Linear Algebra
MATH 2413 Calculus I
MATH 2414 Calculus II
Our advice is to enroll for the highest-level math course you can handle – visit ACC’s Math department for more help with choosing an appropriate class.
If you plan to transfer to a 4 year university program, check with the receiving college to see which ACC math class meets their requirements.
A&E CAD Certificate programs are intended for students who are trying to obtain an entry-level job as quickly as possible or who already have a degree in another area. The degree, however, may qualify you for a higher-level job. Our recommendation: If you don’t have a degree, get one. You can probably plan your classes in such a way that you can receive your certificate in A&E CAD while working toward your degree—this may give you employment opportunities even before you graduate. We offer evening and weekend classes to accommodate working students.
Texas A&M University-Commerce and Austin Community College
A&E CAD has a transfer agreement in place with Texas A&M University-Commerce which can lead to a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (BAAS) degree after completing the AAS degree at ACC. This program was the first of its kind at ACC. Under this agreement, A&E CAD students can transfer up to 85 credit hours to TAMU-Commerce including 36 hours of A&E CAD technical courses—which meets the “Career Field” requirement of the BAAS degree—plus an additional 49 credit hours of core academic courses (including the 15 required for the AAS degree). Then, by completing 36 hours of online coursework at TAMU-Commerce, students can meet the requirements for the BAAS degree. Best of all, students can complete this degree without ever leaving Austin.
View the Texas A&M-Commerce Transfer page here.
View the degree program requirements in PDF format here.
Texas State University and St. Edwards
Both Texas State University in San Marcos and St. Edwards University offer a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences Degree that requires approximately 2 additional years to complete. Contact TSU’s Occupational Education Department for more details visit or visit St. Edwards University’s New College .
Students completing the AAS degree in A&E CAD have also successfully transferred to many other universities but the amount of transfer credit awarded varies between colleges. Students considering transferring to a university program are encouraged to contact the admissions officials at the receiving college as early as possible in the process to confirm which ACC courses may be eligible for transfer.
Based on in-district tuition rates for Spring of 2012, the total tuition and fees for an Associate of Applied Science degree in A&E CAD is about $5000. The total tuition and fees for a Certificate in A&E CAD is about $2700. Out-of-district tuition is approximately triple the in-district rate.
The cost of earning an associates degree at private technical schools can exceed $40,000 and the credits may not transfer to other Texas public institutions. All degree programs at ACC are accredited by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SACS) which is also the accrediting agency for other public institutions like the University of Texas, Texas A&M and Texas State University. If you are considering attending a private institution, ask if it is accredited by SACS and if the credits earned are eligible to transfer to other public institutions in Texas.
SACS accreditation criteria are very strict which helps ensure that students are given a quality education that meets current industry standards.
A&E CAD instructors must meet SACS requirements for degrees and work experience in order qualify to teach in the program.
It is unlikely that you will be able to fit all of the recommended courses into your schedule, as some classes fill quickly or are offered at times that conflict with your schedule. If this is the case, please consult with your A&E CAD advisor.