Software Tools for Engineering Students

Here are my favorite software tools to help engineering students. Why did I include all engineering students?  With our SOLIDWORKS Student Team Sponsorship program, we have met students from a variety of engineering majors, aerospace, biomedical, chemical civil/structural, computer science, electrical, environmental, industrial, industrial design, manufacturing, maritime, materials, mathematics, mining, physics, robotics, nuclear, and of course, mechanical engineering.

After hiring young engineers in industry and teaching engineering design for 10 years, here are my software tools for students!

Computer Aided Design (CAD) software

Understanding how to create models and drawings in CAD software has become a necessary language for any technical professional.  CAD software helps you visualize and manufacture products and systems.  Dassault Systemes is the largest engineering and scientific software company in the world.  We produce software tools for the life sciences, for sustainable cities, and across a variety of engineering disciplines.

Our design tools for industry include:

  • SOLIDWORKS allows engineers, designers, and technical professionals to create, simulate, and manage 3D models and assemblies. SOLIDWORKS offers a range of tools for designing mechanical, electrical, and architectural components, making it suitable for a variety of industries including manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, consumer goods, and more. SOLIDWORKS runs on PC’s and Cloud Apps by SOLIDWORKS run in a web browser.  If you just go by the numbers, over 7.5 million users, 400,000 companies, 20,000 startups in 110 countries all use SOLIDWORKS.
  • CATIA is a multi-platform software suite for computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), computer-aided engineering (CAE), and product lifecycle management (PLM). It is widely used in industries such as aerospace, automotive, shipbuilding, industrial machinery, and consumer goods to design, simulate, analyze, and manufacture products. Large, global, industrial companies and their suppliers use CATIA.
  • DraftSight is a professional-grade 2D drafting and 3D design software. It’s primarily used for creating, editing, viewing, and markup of 2D and 3D DWG and DXF files by architects, facility managers, engineers, and other professionals who work with technical drawings and designs.
  • Electrical CAD allows engineers to create 2D schematics, 3D Cable and wire harness and logic layouts. SOLIDWORKS Electrical, CATIA and DraftSight all have tools to work between mechanical cad and electrical cad.

Knowing these software tools will prepare you for the best careers.  In today’s competitive job market, be prepare to take a “test” for any design position. Can you create a model or drawing, make design changes, make changes again? Do you know how to produce your 3D model (3D Printing, Machining or Assembly)?  Can you create, read and understand a 2D drawing?

My dad taught me to always have a hammer, screwdriver, pliers and wrench in my toolbox. SOLIDWORKS, CATIA and DraftSight are the software tools for your engineering career.

Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) software

As you study engineering topics, computer aided engineering (CAE) software helps you simulate and analyze your designs.  CAE software helps determine how systems perform under certain conditions with varying parameters – before production. Used in conjunction with CAD software, DASSAULT SYSTEMES provides a variety of simulation and analysis tools.

  • SOLIDWORKS Simulation is an easy-to-use set of structural analysis tools that use Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to predict a product’s real-world physical behavior by virtually testing your CAD models.
  • SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation analyzes both internal and external flow conditions of your CAD model using the Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) method.
  • SIMULIA technology uses the Abaqus Solver for advanced structural simulations.  Other advanced technologies include CST-Studio Suite for Electro-Magnetics simulations, Flow simulations, and other solvers to simulate electronics, mechatronics, and antenna wave propagation.

Simulation goes beyond products or engineering systems.  There are human, economic, and environmental factors.  The Living Heart Project, Virtual Factory automation, and Sustainable Cities advancements that show students why they need to keep learning.

Business and Technology Platform Knowledge (Cloud Information)

Are you studying engineering and science?  Then you are using tools that save data to a hardware device such as a PC or MAC.  You are also saving data to the “cloud” in a software application or your school’s server or outside server for a class. DASSAULT SYSTEMES commercial clients are driving cloud usage to save, share and control information – not just data.

Information is smart.  Students need to understand a complete platform for all types of data.  Engineers work with manufacturing, marketing, purchasing, research, all with the same company, outside vendors, or their customers.  The 3DEXPERIENCE platform is the name of our business and technology platform created by DASSAULT SYSTEMES.  It connects information from SOLIDWORKS, CATIA and DraftSight to a browser-based cloud platform to be stored, shared, and controlled. It also connects information from simulations, analytics, and a variety of professional tools.

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform also introduces students to Project Management software tools.  Planning, scheduling and tracking process of tasks and projects are an integral part of an engineer’s career path.


Manufacturing, Multi-Discipline Engineering, and Business software tools

Manufacturing is an enormous discipline that covers many technologies. Manufacturing software helps engineers and plant managers simulate human interaction,  robotics and factory automation along with fabrication.  I am proud and inspired to highlight the video “Optimize Facility Layout with Factory Simulation Engineer” with Behlen Manufacturing., Columbus Ohio.  James Kucera and Jeremy Smith return to Southeastern Community College to learn new software technology complete with virtual reality.

My career, like many of my classmates, led to projects requiring me to quickly learn to solve problems beyond the scope of a mechanical engineer.  For example, learning to program an industrial robot in Assembly Language with an electrical engineer, working on automating formulations with a pharmacist, understanding semiconductor layouts with a material scientist, developing implants with a medical doctor, and working along side a technician in the machine shop.

You must be open to other technology and learn from others.  One of the best ways in school to learn from others with a diverse background is to join a competitive team, such as Formula SAE, Formula Student Electric or AUVSI Robotic competitions. Another great place to learn is the machine shop or maker lab.  Learn how to make something.

All competitions lead you to learn specific software from teammates.  For example, Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM), diagnostics, system controls,  project management, collaboration, cost estimation, and geographic information systems are all software tools that can help you build your portfolio.


Visualization and Industrial Design

If you are an engineer or an industrial designer, you need to make your products and ideas look great – even as students

SOLIDWORKS Visualize and HomeByMe ( free for 3 projects) are tools that make your ideas look like reality – and they are beautiful.

Computer Programming Languages and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

What computer languages are you learning in school today, C, Python, prompting in ChatGPT?  Be open to the fact that these languages will change over your career and your necessary software tools will increase. is an open source software tool for numerical computation, owned by DASSAULT SYSTEMES. There are great free tutorials in application development, machine learning, systems development and many relevant software topics.

AI is a data science endeavor.  Familiarity with software such as RapidMiner (founded 2001), Dataaiku (founded 2013) or Knime (founded 2004) may also be important in your career direction.

From a software perspective, stay up to date with software and learn new tools. As a data science, reinforce your knowledge in advanced statistics and linear algebra.  Mathematics continues to be your strong required foundation.

Certification Software Platforms

No matter what you are studying, your engineering or technology degree doesn’t always show an employer you are up to date in job skills. Do your studies make you say, “I’m always taking an exam for class”? Then you’re prepared for the certification platforms that deliver and exam through a web-browser, automatically grade, and provide you a digital certificate or badge as proof.

Look for certification software platforms that prove fundamental competency and advanced skills learning the “tools of the trade” and “live-long learning.”  Look for exam programs that provide great depth of knowledge and multiple levels of certifications.

Students have access to our SOLIDWORKS certification exams through our Academic Certified Provider program.  Your professor can give up to 20 certification exams in a variety of topics such as basic knowledge in engineering graphics, additive manufacturing, simulation (FEA, CFD and applied theory) and using cloud application to manage information and develop generative designs with the Cloud Apps by SOLIDWORKS on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. Students also can achieve some certification directly though our SOLIDWORKS Student offers.

Cisco Certifications are required by many customers to manage networks, data security and employee devices.  Many universities provide access to CCNA, CCNP credentials too.

Engineers that work in or closely with manufacturing require certifications with CAM software and industry – specific equipment. I was fortunate to work in/out of machine shops in my career.  If this is your direction, understand these certifications too.

Professional associations offer certifications and licensing credentials.  The largest global engineering organization is Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers with over 400 courses leading to a certificate.

The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying offers the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) engineering exams in a variety of disciplines and countries.    While you are still in school, think about taking the Fundamentals of Engineering exam. Exams are in-person.

Different global organizations also support provide engineering exams – especially for Civil and Structural engineers.

Community Software

You may have an Instagram or Facebook account.  You may follow an influencer on Tik-Tok or YouTube.  As an engineer, join professional community software platforms that will help you and that you can help others.

As part of DASSAULT SYSTEMES, we have free user communities for people with common interests in design, life sciences, manufacturing, mining, simulation, and visual artists.  There are also specific group communities for students, educators and makers.  In these communities, you search for information, ask questions, upload an image, or share tips with others.

Define your own brand. What is your professional name in a global community? Do you want to find tech tips? Do you want to help others? How does a global community perceive you?

Two former students, now professional engineers, Ridvan Polat and Hanen Bdioui, , have used multiple software communities, software certifications and their engineering background to build their own brand, helping thousands of students and professionals. Both Hanen and Ridvan share a passion for design.  They created their own blog page called ChampionXperience.

Next Steps

Learn the software tools and keep learning, achieve certification now and throughout your career, and participate in software platforms to build your own brand.


Design well, Marie



Marie Planchard

Marie Planchard

Senior Director, Early Engagement, 3DEXPERIENCE Works at Dassault Systemes
Marie Planchard is an education and engineering advocate. As Senior Director of Education & Early Engagement, SOLIDWORKS, she is responsible for global development of content and social outreach for the 3DEXPERIENCE Works products across all levels of learning including educational institutions, Fab Labs, and entrepreneurship.
Marie Planchard