A change in technology can redefine roles in society. Skills that were previously considered specialties and/or optional can become required for the general population. Some recent examples include typing and drafting. Neither skill was expected from engineers before the widespread availability of personal computers. Secretaries performed the overwhelming majority of typing, and drafting technicians were available in sufficient numbers to do the drafting. Both were considered necessary support personnel in all engineering organizations. Recently, however, the adoption of personal computers has made typing and drafting expected and necessary skills for every engineer. The reason is that the number of typists and designers have decreased steadily during the last 20 years as engineering organizations reaped the benefits of the investment in personal computers that increased workforce efficiency. Some of the reduction in support personnel can be explained by increased efficiency but, in addition, today most engineering organizations expect engineers to perform tasks previously assigned to support personnel. One implication of decreasing numbers of drafting technicians is that, increasingly, recent engineering graduates are expected to perform in such a role without the benefit of lengthy on-the-job training, while simultaneously learning to apply other traditional engineering skills such as analysis and project management. Engineering students can benefit by learning and practicing the skills traditionally associated with designers, namely, the production of engineering drawings. This requires more than learning to use computer aided design (CAD) software. In addition, the students must have a good understanding of drafting practices and standards and they must be able to write callouts for materials and commercial items in the correct format. This report is a study of employment data from the past 100 years. The data appear to indicate that typing and drafting duties are transitioning from specialized support employees to the general population of engineers.

Date of creation, presentation, or exhibit



Presented at the 59th Midyear Annual Meeting of the Engineering Graphics Division of the American Society of Engineering Educators (ASEE), Williamsburg, VA, November 21-23, 2004.

Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type

Conference Paper

Department, Program, or Center

Mechanical Engineering (KGCOE)


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