Skagit Valley College logo

Technical Design

A wide variety of career opportunities in manufacturing exist for trained drafting/design technicians, including CNC operators, CAD designers, and prototype/development technicians. Modern industry relies on highly complex production systems to produce high-quality, economical products for an ever demanding world.  United States manufacturing companies are producing more now than any other time in history. Advanced manufacturing offers some of the highest paying and most satisfying career opportunities available in today’s job market.

The Technical Design (TECD) program prepares students for entry-level work as a technical designer/drafter and Computer-Aided Design (CAD) operator. Drafters prepare technical drawings and plans, which are used by production and construction workers to build everything from microchips to skyscrapers. Drafters' drawings provide visual guidelines, dimensions, materials and show how to construct a product or structure. Drafters fill in technical details using drawings, rough sketches, specifications, and calculations made by engineers, surveyors, architects, or scientists. Some use their understanding of engineering and manufacturing theory and standards to draw the parts of a machine; they determine design elements, such as the numbers and kinds of fasteners needed to assemble the machine. Drafters use technical handbooks, tables, calculators, and computers to complete their work.

Most drafters use Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD) systems to prepare drawings. Consequently, some drafters may be referred to as CADD operators. With CADD systems, drafters can create and store drawings electronically so that they can be viewed, printed, or programmed directly into automated manufacturing systems. CADD systems also permit drafters to quickly prepare variations of a design. Although drafters use CADD extensively, they still need knowledge of traditional drafting techniques in order to fully understand and explain concepts.

Mechanical ability and visual aptitude are important for drafters. Prospective drafters should be able to draw well and perform detailed work accurately. Artistic ability is helpful in some specialized fields, as is knowledge of manufacturing and construction methods. In addition, prospective drafters should have good interpersonal skills because they work closely with engineers, surveyors, architects, and other professionals and, sometimes, with customers.

Graduates may work in support of engineers using CAD software to prepare technical drawings and plans. Almost every company involved with design and/or manufacturing has one or more design/drafting positions, and the majority of those companies use CAD software as their primary design and drafting tool. Skills developed in SVC’s Technical Design program can be applied in many fields including architectural, civil and mechanical, HVAC, construction, and electrical/electronic design.  Students will be introduced to a variety of software design tools commonly used in industry, such as:  AutoCAD, SolidWorks, Inventor, and 3D Studio Max.

Through the training and support of the Technical Design program, students will gain knowledge about workplace safety, work effectively in a manufacturing team environment, operate standard design tools and CAD equipment and create industrial blueprints for effective graphic communication. CAD technicians have a wide spectrum of opportunities available in career and wage progression as they demonstrate personal and professional competencies. Once established in a company, the technician’s career will progress as the worker gains industry specific experience.

Program Options

The Technical Design certificate options provide the basic skills needed for entry-level CAD-Technicians to perform in a manufacturing setting by introducing students to key product development concepts and a comprehensive sampling of essential software tools often found in advanced manufacturing industries.

Degrees/ Certificates Credits Estimated Program Length Admission Dates
Technical Design Certificate 46-52 4 quarters Fall, Winter, Spring
Computer-Aided Design Technician Certificate 39-41 3 quarters Fall, Winter, Spring

Technical Drawing
Micro-Certificate

15 1 quarter Spring

The estimated program length is based on full-time enrollment.  It is the student's responsibility to discuss sequencing and work out their individual schedule with a counselor or program advisor.  Any developmental coursework a student may be required to complete may increase the program length.  The certificate program is not intended for university transfer.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this program, successful students will have demonstrated the ability to apply their skills and knowledge in the following ways:

  • Apply drafting concepts and knowledge to produce the desired product.
  • Proficiently use a CAD work station including storage and retrieval of CAD documents.
  • Use a variety of computer-aided design software as would be required in an entry-level technical drafting position.
  • Apply appropriate techniques and procedures for solving basic design problems.
  • Use calculation skills to determine the precise size of features shown on technical drawings.
  • Use computer technology to exchange information and develop technical drawings.
  • Communicate orally, graphically and in writing using technical language in ways that maximize production.
  • Use a systematic, problem-solving approach for product development that begins with planning and concludes with a finished product.
  • Participate and contribute to the effectiveness of work teams.
  • Use fundamental skills in writing, reading, speaking, listening & computing to meet the needs of the workplace.

You May Study

  • 3-Dimensional Visualization
  • File Management
  • Sketching
  • 3-D Modeling
  • Extrusions, Lofts and Revolves
  • Bottom-up assembly methods
  • Top-down assembly methods
  • Drawing standards
  • Drafting Standards
  • Product Development
  • Quality Standards
  • Rendering
  • Introduction to a variety
    of CAD software
  • Strategies for Solving Design Problems
  • Animation

Entry into Program

Please apply to the Admissions Office. Make an appointment to take the college's COMPASS Test. Please be aware that some classes/sequences are not offered every quarter. It is recommended that students complete at least one year of high school algebra, or take WMATH 100 (Professional Technical Applied Math) before starting any of the certificate sequences. All courses in this program require extensive reading and use of computer technology. The ability to read English at the 8th grade level or above is highly recommended. Students should be skilled users of computer technology. Some key courses are only offered at specific times during the year. For further information, contact the Department Chair or the Admissions Office.

Certificate Options - Descriptions

See SVC Course Catalog for a complete overview of each certificate/degree option and full course descriptions. The Technical Design program offers several certificate options:

Technical Design Certificate (46 – 52 credits)
NEW Fall Quarter 2013

The Technical Design certificate provides the basic skills needed for entry-level CAD-Technicians to perform in a manufacturing setting by introducing students to key product development concepts and a comprehensive sampling of essential software tools found in advanced manufacturing industries, such as AutoCAD, SolidWorks, Inventor, and 3-D Studio Max. This unique certificate program builds on a core program where students experience several CAD methodologies and apply these tools to a variety of manufacturing process and materials. From this core the students gain the necessary skills to move 3-D data from one platform to another, utilizing the proper software tool to solve the problem at hand. The technical specialty courses provide students with the necessary focus and relevancy that manufacturing-related industries require.

This certificate includes a CAD technical "core foundation", plus General Education requirements intended to help students foster the important communication skills required for successful work in a team-related design environment. In addition, the student will pick a trade-specialty focus to guide their path of study and complete an internship experience.  For this particular certificate, the trade specialty options are:  Composites, Quality Assurance, or Automated Systems Technology. The certificate concludes in a CAD/CAM studio seminar where the student develops a new product of their own design -- from initial idea and sketches culminating in development of a prototype of their design. Depending on the trade specialty selected, a certificate sequence will have a range of 46 to 52 credits. Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA or above in all required course work.

Required Courses:

  • Complete Technical Drawing courses: TECD 103, 104, 105, 107 (15 credits)
  • Complete additional technical courses: MANF 120, 199; and TECD 220 (9-11 credits)
  • Complete academic general education requirements: WMATH 100, ENGL 170, SOSC 113 & 125 (11 credits)
  • Complete ONE of the following technical trade specialty micro-certificate options (11-15 credits):
    • Quality Assurance (11 credits)
    • Composite Repair Technician (13 credits)
    • Automated Systems Technology (15 credits)
Computer-Aided Design Technician Certificate (39 – 41 credits)
NEW Fall Quarter 2013

The Computer-Aided Design Technician Certificate puts conceptual computer modeling into the hands of the technician. With a solid basis in manufacturing fundamentals and a trade specialty, the manufacturing CAD operator will engage the latest tools to solve problems on the production floor and feed that information back up stream to influence the overall design process. Students will complete the CAD technical core courses, plus additional manufacturing fundamental courses. In addition, the student will pick a trade-specialty focus to guide their path of study. CNC operation and CAM processes would be a natural progression for the student who focuses on Automated Systems Technology. The Composites Repair Technician uses design skills to enhance their work with a variety of composite materials. With a Quality Assurance emphasis, the student will influence process control as well as product quality. Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA or above in all required course work.

Required Courses:

  • Complete Manufacturing Fundamental courses: MANF 110, 120, 122, 140 (11 credits)
  • Complete Technical Drawing courses: TECD 103, 104, 105, 107 (15 credits)
  • Complete ONE of the following trade specialty micro-certificate options (13-15 credits):
    • Quality Assurance (13 credits)
    • Composite Repair Technician (13 credits)
    • Automated Systems Technology (15 credits)
Technical Drawing Micro-certificate (15 credits)
NOTE: micro-certificate was previously titled Technical Design

This micro-certificate program prepares students for entry-level work as a technical drafter and Computer-Aided Design (CAD) operator. The program is designed to provide training for individuals seeking entry-level employment as drafting technicians using the AutoDesk suite of products and SolidWorks computer-aided design software to prepare technical drawings and models for architects, construction companies, contractors, utilities and engineering firms. Our unique program introduces students a broad range of software platforms. Drafters then hone their skills to provide dimensions, materials, and visual instructions to construct products and structures in various fields of manufacture. Before entering this program, students are advised to complete MATH 097 or WMATH 100. Keyboarding and computer literacy skills are also recommended. Students must maintain a 2.0 or better GPA in all required courses.

Required Courses:

  • Complete Technical Drawing courses: TECD 103, 104, 105, 107 (15 credits)

Career Opportunities and Job Search Information

The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) is the nation's primary source of occupational information.  The O*Net Online database is an interactive research tool for exploring and searching occupations.  The database, developed by the US Department of Labor, contains information on hundreds of standardized and occupation-specific descriptors, and provides a variety of FREE Career Exploration Tools.

O-Net Online: http://www.onetonline.org

  • SOC 17-3019.00 - Drafters
  • SOC 17-3029.06 - Manufacturing Engineering Technologists
  • SOC 17-3026.00 - Industrial Engineering Technicians

The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) has established a certification program for drafters. Although employers usually do not require drafters to be certified, certification demonstrates knowledge and an understanding of nationally recognized practices. Individuals who wish to become certified must pass the Drafter Certification Test, which is administered periodically at ADDA-authorized sites. Applicants are tested on basic drafting concepts, such as geometric construction, working drawings, and architectural terms and standards.

Advancement. Entry-level or junior drafters usually do routine work under close supervision. After gaining experience, they may become intermediate drafters and progress to more difficult work with less supervision. At the intermediate level, they may need to exercise more judgment and perform calculations when preparing and modifying drawings. Drafters may eventually advance to senior drafter, designer, or supervisor. Many employers pay for continuing education; with appropriate college degrees, drafters may go on to become engineering technicians, engineers, or architects.

Job prospects. 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. Most job openings are expected to arise from the need to replace drafters who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force completely.

For more detailed information about employment trends, wage rates, employment opportunities, job tasks, etc. search the websites listed below:

Contact Us

Barry Hendrix, Chair
Manufacturing Technology & Technical Design Departments
Reeves Hall, Room 16
360-416-6549 (office)
Email Barry

Program Information Sessions

For program information or a current schedule of dates/times for information sessions, please contact the department chair or admissions.