Being an engineer, a project manager or a student means getting accustomed to engineering, construction and designing software is essential to develop your skills and expertise. There is a lot of software relating to construction on the market, the problem is how can you get the best engineering software. “Best software” means the most suitable and economical software for your field.
Engineering software is divided into three main categories:
- Type 1 software: This is the software for structural analysis. It specializes in structural evaluation of solids, water, and gases.
- Type 2 software: This software is all about “drawing” and managing drawings for the construction process.
- Type 3 software: This is the software for statistical and project management.
The above-listed categories are based on our criteria of what is most suitable for you. No one is perfect or can analyze any structure correctly, forcing you to learn and choose a variety of software.
Software for engineers can be divided into several categories, of which three are:
1. Structural analysis software: This can be subdivided into Civil, Road, and Bridge; and Mechanical analysis software
- Civil Structure software: This encompasses a range of tools to help civil engineers during both the design and construction process. These programs can help in every stage of your project including drafting & documenting, designing, visualizing & analyzing. Examples are: Staad Pro, Safe, Etabs, SAP2000, Revit Structural etc.
- Road and bridge structure software: This specializes in managing building efficient and durable road networks and bridges. It allows you to design and visualize roads and bridges. Tracking cost of each road/bridge becomes easy with Road and bridge structure software. Examples are Sap 2000, Plaxis, Midas, Geoslope etc.
- Mechanical Structure: There are different aspects to mechanical engineering including Flow, Hydraulics, etc. Mechanical Structure software specializes in designing mechanical systems and equipment. Examples are Ansys, AutoCAD Mechanical.
2. Drawings related Software: Examples are: Autocad 2D, Autocad 3D, Revit Structure, Solidworks, CATIA, etc.
3. Statistics related Software: Examples are: Microsoft Excel, Visual Basic, Revit, etc.
Jack of all trade master of none. It is virtually impossible to master all the engineering software in the world that is why it is not only important; it is also economical and advisable to learn the industry-relevant software. This article will provide an overview of the main advantages and uses of different engineering software, to assist you to choose and solve problems with the software related to your field.
Are they Free?
Engineering software is very expensive due to their functions and capabilities. Software companies have preferential policies for students, and especially valid for free up to 2 years.
Best Engineering Software in 2020
This is a prerequisite software for all engineers. AutoCAD is said to be the foundation of all engineering software. As an engineer or student, you need to know the rudiments of AutoCAD. This software helps you create technical drawings to be applied during the construction process. Regardless of whether you are a construction engineer, bridge or road engineer, civil engineer or even a student, this software is a must for you.
AutoCAD is a software that creates 2D and 3D drawings and manages objects like line, text, dimensions, leaders, and tables by Layers. Each layer manages components such as surface, flow, masonry, wood, beige, floor plans, sections, and elevations. Another fantastic feature of AutoCAD is the shortcut key when drawing. To draw a straight line just use the Key like "L" and "C" to draw round. The shortcuts on AutoCAD is a clever way to create quality drawings in no time.
Size and Layers management are two very important tools for engineers. You can be assured of the size and layers management tools on AutoCAD. Also, you should know brushstrokes is an important issue for technical drawings. One thing about AutoCAD is that it helps you manage the strokes according to size and color. AutoCAD helps engineers print drawings easily and beautifully with built-in PDF Printer.
“Two heads are better than one”, a team of engineers is better than an engineer. AutoCAD Autodesk helps you work with your team members effectively and efficiently. Different engineers around the world can work together to complete a product or project at the same time. All thanks to Autodesk.
In addition to AutoCAD 2D, you can also learn more about AutoCAD 3D. With the “Architecture Toolset” in AutoCAD 3D, you can create 3D modeling using elements with real-world behavior and construction like Walls, Doors, Beam and Column. One thing to note about AutoCAD 3D is that creating 3D drawings for structures like bridges is slower when compared with other engineering software.
Engineers say “AutoCAD is an art”. You should master the basic and advanced skills of this software to create amazing job opportunities for you. AutoCAD has free versions for future engineering students and engineers but they are limited to some functions. The full version of AutoCAD price is costly, but compared to the benefits that this software brings, it is worth the price.
2. Staad Pro
Staad Pro is a software that specifies in structural analysis. Staad Pro's interface is one of the most intuitive and easy to use interface when it comes to structural analysis and civil engineering projects. This software specializes in the structural analysis of high-rise buildings like skyscrapers. Staad Pro analyzes the structural designs of steel or reinforced concrete structures. The edge Staad Pro has over other engineering software is its user interface. With its easy-to-use interface, engineers can easily simulate the forces acting on the building and thereby find the appropriate material for structure.
As earlier said, Staad Pro deals with the analysis of structural columns, beams, similar to steel, concrete or wood. Staad Pro helps in calculating Moment and Shear Diagram, Movement and selecting the appropriate material size for your project. In addition to the limitless capabilities included in the standard version of Staad Pro, the advanced version offers state-of-the-art and more complex analyses such as Geometric Non-linear, Steady State, Buckling, Cable, Pushover, and Floor Spectrum.
Staad Pro will clearly define and organize the force combination and act in your object. The force distribution in the structure is also quite simple thanks to the 3D interface Staad Pro. The simple-to-use interface enables engineers to visually look at existing combinations of structures.
Another reason why Staad Pro is exceptional in structural analysis is its ability to calculate relevant loading parameters. Staad Pro does a lot of automatic parameter calculations based on structural geometry, mass, and selected building code provisions without the need for separate hand calculations. Besides, Staad pro combines lateral load cases with gravity and other types of loads using load combination generators to achieve the best results.
Materials and non-linear materials analysis can be done on Staad Pro, this way engineers are assured when using many materials in their works. If there is one thing Staad Pro is known all over the world for, it will be its design capabilities. It is not trivial to say you can design steel, concrete, timber, aluminum, and cold-formed steel structures anywhere in the world using over 90 included international design codes. These codes are available to all Staad versions.
Just like we have indicated above Staad Pro specializes in Columns and Beams but not about Flat Floor Structures or Foundations. There is other software for flat floor structures and foundations designs and you can find them below.
It is obvious that the result of any structural analysis software is extremely important, this is why you can export the results on Staad Pro and use them with other engineering software. Staad Pro is quite costly and hard to get.
3. Revit Structure
Revit Structure a good and comprehensive software especially for construction engineers. One of the advantages of Revit over every other engineering software is that Revit can calculate everything. Literally Everything! For example, when you enter the materials and components of a structure, Revit will automatically calculate and analyze the weight load. If you draw a wall, be assured that Revit will analyze the force acting on the structure.
Revit will create detailed sectional drawings and other related drawings automatically. All you need to do is to draw a simple 2D Structure like a beam, floor or wall, then Revit Structure will create a 3D Structure automatically. With Revit, statistics are automatic and accurate. Revit Structure will help you analyze other parts of the buildings such as ME Foundation. Before diving into this, we advise you to study other software that deals with ME Foundation because the field or geological field simulation is very complex.
The biggest advantage of Revit for Companies, its ability to automatically modify and change structural options within seconds. The structural drawings are automatically changed accordingly. Revit's capability is limitless when it comes to teamwork. Revit is best for a team of engineers working on a project. Combined with Revit Architecture and ME, Revit Structure will help your company work effectively and efficiently.
In our opinion, we believe it’s best to learn and master Revit if you are a project engineer or an engineering student. Just like other engineering software, Revit’s price is also quite high but there is also a free version for students. By learning Revit Structure, you can easily use Revit's related software such as Architecture.
SAP2000 is a special structural analysis software because it can be used for complex structures such as Dams, and Pipes, Beams, 3D Trusses, 3D Frames, Storage Vessels, Staircases and so much more. SAP2000 software is most suitable for road and bridge engineers, hydraulic engineers and civil or structural engineers.
The 3D Model Views on SAP2000 will help you easily model structures from simple to complex. With this feature, SAP2000 accurately creates 3D models of constructions based on mathematical parameters. Grid Systems and Elevations are two important tools to manage objects in SAP2000. There are limitless grid systems in a model and they can be rotated in any direction or placed at any origin within the model. With effective use of SAP2000, plan and elevation views are automatically generated at every grid line.
SAP2000 supports almost all the current materials and standards used in different countries. Dam Structures and Pipes are structures that show the true strength of SAP2000 over other engineering software. If you are an engineer specialized in special shapes, SAP2000 is the best choice for you.
Lastly, SAP2000 is not limited to the functions listed above, it also helps the engineers simulate the structure with the foundation, you can see the stress distribution and displacement of the foundation. SAP2000 has a lot of functions related to Flow, Wind, Pressure.
SAFE is a software that specializes in analyzing and designing Floors or Flat Structures like concrete and foundation systems, irrigation systems and road or civil engineers. The major advantage of SAFE over other engineering software is its ability to model multiple floor types like flat slabs, two-way slabs, base mats, waffle slabs, ribbed slabs, and single or combined footings.
SAFE can be used to calculate foundations of structures because the foundation is also a flat structure. Safe is very easy to understand and use. While using SAFE, you will need to describe the materials before designing 3D models with your force and combination force. After describing and defining the parameters of the materials, you can run an analysis and when the analysis is complete, you can see a deformed shape of your structure.
ETABS is a software that specializes in high-rise buildings. It caters for multi-story building analysis and design. ETABS does virtually everything that SAP2000 and SAFE can do. ETABS structures can be modeled and calculated just like all other engineering software. We strongly believe that this is the software for civil engineers who need to learn and master.
ETABS is just like SAP2000, it manages objects with Grid Systems and Stories. With ETABS in place, managing your building becomes very easy. Multi-tower buildings are easily modeled using the new tower feature.
The “Defining towers” tool in ETABS allows users to define unique story levels and grid systems for different building structures within the same ETABS model. For example, ETABS allows you to model buildings that share a podium level and then separate into different towers on higher floors.
The “Drawing Tool” is a new feature on ETABS that allows you to model your constructions and attach loads correctly. In ETABS, beams, columns, and braces are frame elements that can be straight or curved. They are used in a general or three-dimensional beam-column formulation which includes the effects of biaxial bending, torsion, axial deformation, and biaxial shear deformations. Intermediate joints will automatically be generated where other members intersect with the frame to ensure finite element connectivity.
ETABS dynamic analysis capabilities include the calculation of vibration modes using Ritz or Eigenvectors, response-spectrum analysis, and time-history analysis for both linear and nonlinear behavior.
Summarily, ETABS is based on SAP2000's strength relating to the basic components such as beams and columns. ETABS includes the floor power of SAFE. ETABS is a very powerful software that civil engineers need to know.
Midas is a product of structural analysis, including Civil Midas specializing in civil works (bridges, bridges, tunnels). Midas Gen specializes in high-rise buildings and Midas GTS NX specializes in foundations and geology.
One of the advantages of Midas is the intuitive interface which is easy to use, Drawing tools to help you create and edit the model easily, friendly with users. The standards code of many countries are also supported by Midas. The strength of Midas Gen, in our opinion, is the ability to analyze stresses of steel structures, the results after analysis are very intuitive, from which engineers can calculate materials specifically.
Midas GTS NX is a structural analysis software influenced by geology, which is an extremely great advantage of Midas. Gts NX supports almost all types of geology, especially even those of eastern transition.
Plaxis is a software that simulates complex geological conditions affecting a project. It is the software for road and bridge engineers, irrigation engineers. It has limitless capabilities when it comes to foundations in house construction. Plaxis 2D can define everything on your project from complex soil profiles to diverse cross-sections to structural elements, such as piles, anchors, geotextiles, and prescribed loads and displacements.
With Plaxis 3D, you can perform a three-dimensional analysis of deformation and stability in geotechnical engineering and rock mechanics. Whether you are working on simple or complex building projects, excavations, embankments, foundations, tunneling, mining, or reservoir geomechanics, Plaxis is the software package you need. Engineering companies that specialize in civil and geotechnical engineering can always count on Plaxis’ CAD-like drawing capabilities for engineering operations.
We believe GeoSlope is essential software for road and bridge engineers. GeoSlope’s edge over other engineering software is that it can effectively analyze both simple and complex problems for a variety of slip surface shapes, pore-water pressure conditions, soil properties, and loading conditions.
Pore-water pressures can be defined using the piezometric lines and spatial functions on GeoSlope. Rapid drawdown analysis can be conducted using the pore-water pressures defined using piezometric lines. GeoSlope supports a comprehensive list of material models including Mohr-Coulomb, undrained, high strength, impenetrable, bilinear.
Ansys is an extremely powerful software that can simulate any structural shape you can think of. Ansys is suitable for mechanical engineers. Ansys is known for Testing new materials. Aerodynamics and hydraulics are two strengths of Ansys.
Ansys can simulate everything. For example, Ansys can simulate the bearing capacity of a chair or a plane or any shape. The simulation process is very complex, which requires an in-depth knowledge of this software. Materials are also supported by Ansys with many specifications that can allow you to create new materials easily.
This is one of the most popular engineering software in the world. It consists of mechanical components, machinery, and modules that are essential to mechanical engineers. With Solidworks 2D Cad and 3D Cad, you can easily create mechanical components or mechanical parts. Solidworks 3D CAD provides easy-to-learn and powerful functionalities that shorten product development time.
Quickly create and collaborate on 3D conceptual designs and organic shapes using the cloud-based tools on Solidworks. It helps you to create and deliver innovative products to your clients faster. The 2D DraftSight lets you create, edit, view, and markup any kind of 2D and 3D DWG files easily, quickly and efficiently. It gives you the freedom to do what you do best - no matter who you are or what you are trying to accomplish.
CATIA is a software that deals with modeling and simulation of integrated and complex systems for use within the automotive, aerospace, robotics, and process industry.
CATIA Composer allows you to repurpose and redesign existing 3D design data. It allows you to update high-quality product deliverables including documentation, technical illustrations, animations, and other interactive 3D experiences. One unique thing about CATIA is its easy-to-use interface for managing projects. The interface allows traceability and impact analysis across different systems, programs and project levels across the entire hardware and software development lifecycle.
If you are looking for structural engineering software, architectural tools, or data computational programs, our list contains some of the best and most revered software you in the world. Though some of them are expensive and beyond the reach of many, you can use a 30-day trial version to see if it will be worth an investment. Even so, bear in mind that expensive doesn't always translate to quality. Your choice should always boil down to your needs, preferences, and career.