Programs and Sites for CADEdit

SketchUp in Education

  • A very useful site for schools using CAD is the Great Buildings site. This site provides access to free CAD software (Design Workshop Lite) and an extensive number of free 3D models available for free download. For a detailed how-to lesson plan utilizing this site, see the Thirteen Ed Online Lesson Plan: Built To Last. Here is a way to get started using the history of architecture in the classroom.
  • Microsoft Visio is the MS Office application for CAD

History of CADEdit

The first CAD programs ran on mainframes and were only affordable by aircraft companies. In the early 80's AutoDESK rocked the world of CAD by creating a PC-based system that could churn out, if slowly, architectural and industrial designs, and print them out onto pen plotters. A neat trick, however AutoCAD had two really important innovations--one was the open interface, which meant that any hardware or software creator, from a one-person shop to a large company, could create an add-on for a specific purpose. Examples are pre-drawn sets of symbols matching industry-standard parts such as screws, nuts, wood windows, etc. The second innovation was the addition of the AutoLISP programming language, which was largely imported from a public domain LISP implementation. For many non-programmers, this was a first introduction to computer languages.

The AutoLISP programming language, which is a bit awkward and often described as Lost In Stupid Parentheses, allowed third-party creators to go beyond symbol sets for their add-ons, and built routines that added functionality and automation to drafting and calculating tasks. Some of us who were supposed to be working on architectural plans were sometimes caught using AutoCAD and AutoLISP to make virtual aquariums, with little fish models swimming around the screens. Because you could combine programming with really cool screen output, it was fun to learn programming this way, and pulled in a generation of programmers who had never studied Computer Science in school.

The idea of creating a learning environment which fosters "programming with a purpose" is an exciting one and is still being developed today through experimental Visual Programming languages, MicroWorlds, Flash, Squeak, Mindstorms, etc.

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