February 11, 2021

February 11, 2021

February 11, 2021

Essential Tools for Engineering Students

Essential Tools for Engineering Students

Essential Tools for Engineering Students




Getting acquainted with industry-standard engineering software is essential for novice engineering students. Learning these tools early on can help young engineers figure out a workflow that streamlines productivity.

Whether it’s for designing, analyzing, or coding, we’ve compiled a list of the top tools for engineering students to learn.

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

1. AutoCAD

AutoCAD is the golden standard for 2D CAD software (computer-aided design). It is developed by Autodesk and is used in virtually all fields of engineering, manufacturing, science, and design.

Although it does have 3D capabilities, its strengths lie in its robust yet simple 2D digital drafting tools. It even has a web app that serves as a useful online tool when users need to work remotely.

This is one of the most important programs to learn for students in engineering fields that utilize technical drawings or diagrams.

Similar and related programs:


  • DraftSight

  • BricsCAD

  • LibreCAD (free)


CATIA is a software suite developed by Dassault Systèmes that can handle a wide array of computer-aided design, manufacturing, and engineering tasks (CAD/CAM/CAE). It lets its users design products in digital 3D space like most other CAD software. Additionally, it functions as simulation software by giving detailed analyses of a design’s performance throughout its estimated lifecycle.

CATIA streamlines collaboration with integrated cloud services that lets teams of people work on the same file simultaneously. CATIA is used in a wide array of industries such as aerospace, mechanical and systems engineering, and architecture.

Any budding engineer interested in product design and system design will find that CATIA is a worthwhile tool to master.

Similar and related programs:

  • SketchUp

  • Solidworks (3D modeling only)

  • Inventor

  • FreeCAD (open source)


MATLAB by MathWorks functions both as a proprietary programming language as well as a digital environment for numeric computing. It is used to produce and manipulate matrices, implement algorithms, create specialized user interfaces, and plot points and functions of data, among many other things.

It’s these functionalities and more that make MATLAB so popular with science, engineering, and economics professionals. The program is perfect for engineering students that regularly practice numeric calculations and computing.

Similar and related programs:

  • Maxima

  • GNU Octave

  • Scilab (open source)

4. Python

Python is a high-level interpreted programming language. It was developed by Guido van Rossum back in the 1980s and released in 1991. It consistently gets hailed as one of the most popular programming languages in the world.

Python’s main focus is on readability and clarity by utilizing tools such as the off-side rule, dynamic type checking, and garbage collection (GC).

Although software engineers will find that learning more than one programming language will prove useful (and sometimes essential) down the line, Python is a solid language to start with.

5. Tecplot

Tecplot is a suite of visualization and analysis tools designed specifically for various fluid dynamics engineering disciplines. It consists of the following software:

  • 360, which is specialized to handle 3D visualizations of computational fluid dynamics;

  • RS - short for Reservoir Simulation;

  • Focus, a tool for field data plotting and general computations;

  • and Chorus for CFD simulation data management.

Any engineering students whose fields of study include fluid dynamics will find that learning Tecplot early on will pay off in spades.

Similar and related programs:

  • Surfer

  • VisIt (open source)

  • Paraview (open source)

6. SigmaPlot

SigmaPlot graphing and data analysis software suite for Windows. It was developed by the Jandel Corporation which eventually merged with SPSS Inc. and bought by IBM producing the company’s latest iteration - IBM SPSS.

SigmaPlot doesn’t have a wide array of functionality like some of the more complex tools in this list. But what it does, it does extremely well. This includes scientific data analysis and presentation-level visualizations. It integrates well with Microsoft Excel sheets and data as well as with data imported from basic ASCII.

Data, graphs, and high-quality visualization of information are the cornerstones of many engineering fields. SigmaPlot is perfect for engineering students looking to build a solid foundation of basic data gathering and presentation skills.

Similar and related programs:

  • Origin

  • Grace (open-source)

  • SymPy (open source)

7. Vagon

Vagon is a cloud computation and streaming solution that remotely handles the computational load of CAD software, 3D modeling tools, and simulation software, among other things.

Workflows that make use of computationally intensive engineering software typically bottleneck due to hardware limitations. Top-of-the-line programs won’t be able to achieve much when the machines they’re run on can’t handle the load.

This is where Vagon changes the game by doing all the heavy lifting for its users remotely through the cloud. The long wait for a file to finish computing or rendering can be eliminated by a simple, stable internet connection.

Any laptop or tablet essentially turns into a supercomputer, which makes Vagon one of the most essential online tools for any engineering student who doesn’t have the budget for high-end machines.

You can read more about Vagon’s affordable pricing options here.


There are plenty of greatly helpful engineering apps out there that are worth looking into. Ultimately, when deciding which program to prioritize, it comes down to finding the right tool for the right job. Hopefully, this list helps you narrow down your search and figure out which tools work best for your engineering needs.

Ready to focus on your creativity?

Vagon gives you the ability to create & render projects, collaborate, and stream applications with the power of the best hardware.