by Carol Jonson
Powerful computers hum, 3D designs rotate on screens in a ballet of lines and shapes, a unique rapid prototyping system builds colorful and accurate resin models directly from CAD data.
A scene from inside a Big Three design center? Nope. Itís a scene at Oakland Community Collegeís Auburn Hills Campus, home to several state-of-the-art certificate and associate degree programs in Computer-Aided Design (CAD).
CAD Program Options
Students can choose from four program options: Automotive/Industrial Modeling, Machine Tool, Vehicle Design and Computer-Aided Engineering.
And they can also choose to earn a certificate or go on to complete a degree. After successfully completing approximately 50 credit hours of computer-aided design and related manufacturing coursework, students may apply for a certificate.
Those who choose to complete the programís general education component will earn an associate degree. While most associate degrees require completion on 62 credit hours, OCCís programs are Extended Degree Programs, requiring a minimum of 73 credit hours.
Why choose OCC?
There are many reasons to choose OCC for a computer-aided design or computer-aided engineering associate degree.
First, according to Professor Tahir Khan, OCC department chairman for Applied and Engineering Technologies, are the unique program options, such as computer aided engineering (including courses on kinematics and finite element modeling more typically found in graduate level programs) and vehicle design (including courses on 3D wire frame design and surfacing, as well as on manufacturing and fabrication processes).
Second, Professor Khan says, is that "no program besides OCCís provides students with such an extensive and comprehensive array of advanced design software (including CATIA, Unigraphics and AutoCAD) and hardware." One of the newest additions to that hardware is a 3D printing and prototyping system that builds physical models made of resin from CAD data, and does it quickly and in full-color color. OCC is one of only a dozen educational institutions using this equipment; others include MIT, Harvard, Yale, Purdue and the University of Illinois.
Thereís a third thing about an OCC associate degree in CAD thatís also important, points out Professor Khan: "We call it the 2+2 program. OCC students complete two years of classes at the college then can transfer to a four-year university to complete the final two years of a bachelorís degree." OCC has agreements with many four-year schools, including Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Ferris State University, Lawrence Technological University, Purdue School of Engineering and Technology, University of Michigan Ė Dearborn, and Wayne State University School of Engineering and Technology.
If you need a "dollars and sense" reason for an OCC degree, consider the cost, since tuition is only $50.30 per credit hour, far less than tuition at a typical state college or university Finally, attending OCC turns out to be a very practical way to earn that computer-aided design or computer aided engineering degree. Because OCC partners with many area businesses and industries, the college can arrange cooperative internships for students. "Our co-op students end up with very meaningful and practical experiences, including getting involved in production situations," Professor Khan says. "Many of our co-op students are hired by the company where they had their student experience," he notes.
OCC has the resources students need
"At OCC we are focused on assisting students to succeed. We want the people who come through our doors to emerge employable and successful," Professor Khan explains. "Some of our students have no background at all in computer aided design. We start them with the basics. Others who have some knowledge may begin with more advanced courses," he says. Still others may need additional assistance, which OCC makes available through its Individualized Instruction Centers (IIC) and Programs for Academic Support Services (PASS). In each campusí
IIC, students experiencing difficulty in academic courses receive personalized assistance. Each campus also has a PASS office, which assists students with learning disabilities; visual, hearing or physical disabilities; and those who speak English as a second language. "We make sure students have available all the tools they need to be successful in mastering what they learn at OCC and in making that knowledge and skill translate into success in their careers," Professor Khan says.