Struggle with Mechanical/Arch Classes

Hi, I'm in Mechanical and Architectural design in High School. It's a college course I get college credits for. Today we took our first big test on it, and we were reading a print with different views on it of a Cushion Wheel. I couldn't understand how to make out the plans and in 4/12 hours which is how long it was, I couldn't make out the views very well. Is it normal to not be able to read prints right away? Is there a way I can learn how to read prints better? If I can't get the perception of the plans right to create the part on the computer, should I not take this course? It's a really fun course and I enjoy it, but if I'm having such a hard time getting the perception of different views of a part right should I just give up? It's really aggravating that I can't get it like everyone else can.
posted by Brandi , Ohio on March 30, 2012

Answer by Ms Jenn Dandrea

Hi! First, it's wonderful that you enjoy mechanical/arch classes! I didn't get the pleasure of that type of exposure when I was in high school. Just jumped right into the engineering when I got to college. So, you're already making the right steps. Congrats! As for reading drawing... that takes time! It's a comes with practice type of thing. I still have to read hand drawing at work. I help design/build the Boeing 747-8 right now. The orginal 747 was designed in 1969... and that was way before computers. The sections of the airplane i support are still old school hand drawings. And even i have problems turning parts in my head, trying to figure out what direction I'm looking. A lot of times, I have to turn the paper around. Just pick it up, and rotate it until it fits. For instance, I might have a drawing of an assembly looking down at it.. and I get to the airplane, and I'm looking forward (to the cockpit)... I just take my drawing and move it around so it's in the same view I'm looking. I personally, was really bad at hand sketches in college. I had to take only 1 semester of it!! And it was partnered with a CAD class. With the exception of the airplane I work on, the 747... pretty much all other airplanes in Boeing Commerical are designed in CAD. So I can pull up an assembly, or part, and rotate it in 3D space. Old school hand drawings are not very common in current Engineering. You might have to read blueprints here and there, but overall, especially by the time you enter the field... it will be a lot art!! Unfortunately, all you can do is practice. I'm sure you can find on the web isometric drawing, just stare at some of them, see how the parts are rotated, and drawn. In the real world, you'll have all the time you need, not 4.5hours, to read a drawing. You also have mentors, and people to help. Life is not a school test. I'm still new in my current job, and asking questions is how you learn. Do not get discouraged by struggling! If it was easy, everyone would do it! The stuff I have learned in my career is amazing. And every time I change jobs (I'm on the 5'th since graduating college... I just keep finding more interesting things to do!), it's a new learning process. In this new job, I had to learn sooo much! it's more designed based than I have ever done. And it's old drawings I'm using. And i have to understand materials, build process, manufacturing... I would come home SO FRUSTRATED! My mentor in my job would say 'you'll hear 10000 new things a day. Just remember 5 of them... 5 new things a day. I'm 6 months into this job, and I love it. Engineering is a wonderful field! It's not all reading drawings. You can make CAD design, you can create manufacturing processes, I used to flight on test airplanes, oversee manufacturing lines... drawings and prints is just something you have to get through. Enjoy the challenge. It's what develops you and makes you smarter :)