This international program provides a standard for developing and measuring automotive CAD skills. Candidates must solve realistic automotive engineering problems using the latest design technology to earn certification.

Program objectives and structure were outlined by a committee which included representatives from automakers GM, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler, as well as suppliers such as Delphi. SAE teamed with Cadpo, a leader in MCAD/PLM training and engineering services, for content and delivery of the program.

"SAE has set standards in the automotive industry for 100 years," says Kevin Perry, SAE manager of professional development. "We believe automotive CAD Certification is another benchmark the industry can support to address critical gaps at automotive manufacturers."

According to SAE, Automotive CAD Certification addresses the knowledge gap between industry design knowledge and CAD application. Certified engineers will be equipped for automotive design in the context of CAD best practices.

"But the program's most important goal is to increase productivity of automotive designers and manufacturers," says Kevin Noe, Cadpo president. "Developing expertise-based on industry best practices will let companies identify talent immediately and save time and money on internal training."

Engineers designated as SAE Automotive CAD Professionals will have proven their mastery of automotive essentials as well as knowledge in one or more of four disciplines: styling, interior trim, structures, or powertrain/ chassis. Candidates must pass an initial exam covering essentials and show a working knowledge of CAD in the context of automotive design. Then they take exams on at least one of the disciplines to be fully certified. If candidates pass exams in all four disciplines, they earn Master Certification.

CAD Automotive Certification is currently offered on two software packages, Unigraphics and Catia. Candidates will not need to get recertified with every CAD release. Certification is valid until the next major CAD release, as when Catia went from V4 to V5. But the SAE Curriculum Committee will ultimately determine when rectification is necessary.

Certification courses will have project-based curriculum focused on automotive design challenges. Each course is 40 to 80 hr. Exams check knowledge and practices through online tests and skills-based modeling projects.

As an international program, courses and examinationsare offered worldwide, including in Detroit, Shanghai, and Bangalore. Additional locations and onsite programs are being planned. A 2005 training and exam schedule is available on the SAE Web site.

This program targets degreed engineers proficient in basic modeling on a CAD program. But as the program matures and more engineers get certified, SAE says it will develop an academic or college-level program so graduating students can enter the workforce already certified. This could help OEMs that currently have to train new hires. Complete program information is available at www.sae.org/autocad.cert.