The 10 Most Useful Engineering Software You Must Learn

The following software are what I believe the most useful engineering software but you denot need to learn ALL of them. In fact, I’d say if you learn 3 out of these 10 you should be up and ready to join any company of your desire. (Programming environment + CAD design software + Excel).

Learn those three and you’ll be fully prepared for college assignments and you might even be able to join a research group or an intership right after your first year. .



Virtually every engineering student, be it chemical, electrical or mechanical, will find MatLab useful.  It isn’t likely you’ll be using this for an intership or for research purposes (though you definitely can) but you’ll definitely use it throughout courses during your third or fourth year. 

Senior projects

I’m talking about those senior projects or those hardcore engineering classes which are very specialized and might have a small project to present on their own.

As an electrical engineer myself. I found matlab super useful throughout engineering school but found it especially useful during my third year where I took an “wireless communication” class and had to simulate different “propagation” methodologies for “wifi signals”.

Companies or Internships

Like I said, it isn’t likely you’ll be using MatLab outside of school but there is no single tool that’s mainstream for all companies. Some will let you use MatLab (though python and C++ are also alternatives). Several of my buddies got internships at MTA (Metro North) and still found it useful. 

It’s mostly about SimuLink (which is a subset of MatLab).  The aerospace industry is known to run lots of numerical analysis and simulations through programming environments like MatLab. 

Alternatives are: SageMath, Octave and a few more. Check my post on 100 free useful for sftware for students (math section).


Virtually every engineering student will take math classes up to Vector Analysis (around 5 after calculus). A lot of the topics can be very very abstract since they’re mostly teaching you methods to calculate a final answer. Ex: The volume of a parallabolloid centered somewhere with a specific curvature and radius. 

You can use MatLab to visualize what you’re doing just by graphing these functions as shown in the figure above. This is going to help you MASSIVELY to understand the process of calculating volumes, areas and matrices.etc.

You obviously can use python or C++ to get those answers and even to get a graphical representation but it just looks better on MatLab AND you don’t have to use arrays to declare values.  In other words, it’ll be closer (though not like) a graphing calculator than a purely programming process.

2. CAD: Computer Aided Design Software

This is a very very obvious software.

I bet most of you knew about it already.

So instead of going ON and ON about how useful this is, let me give you a few tips you may not be aware if you’re still a freshman or an incoming freshman.

Several AutoCAD versions

There are several versions of AutoCAD. There’s AutoCAD for electrical engineers, architects, civil engineers,etc. However, virtually every school will teach you the “mainstream” AutoCAD which can be used for all areas of engineering.

Specialized CAD Softrware

“Regular” AutoCAD is mostly used as an introductory software so that you can later on move onto more specialized “CAD software”.

    • Mechanical engineering & Aerospace Engineering: SolidWorks, ANSYS.
    • Electrical engineering : AutoCAD LT (Regular AutoCAD is useful too).
    • Civil Engineering : Revit , 3DS Max & AutoCAD Civil 3D.

If you learn regular AutoCAD, you can master the rest

As long as you get with either CAD software (highly recommend regular AutoCAD), it’s going to be easier to move onto the other specialized and more complex CAD software.

Different Methodology

Now some may argue they’re a little different and learning one may not help learn the other. Because say AutoDesk focuses more on drawing 3D objects then manipulate them (after) to match the final product. On the other hand, when you use SolidWorks and ANSYS you’ll have to draw a 2D draft first.

But I respectfully disagree.


They’re all about drawing and sketching with tools and interfaces as you can see on the picture above. You make a point drag it , choose which shape to follow, rotate it and so on. That’s not something you learn in high school at ALL! Jumping right into SolidWorks is definitely going to be easier if you know how AutoCAD works.

CAD software useful for every engineer?

Not every single engineer is going to be using some form of CAD software for research or when they graduate from school but virtually every civil, mechanical and aerospace engineer will.

3. ExCell

If you are a freshman you probably think you got this one under your belt.


If you don’t know what pivot tables or macros are, then you just don’t know excel “for engineering purposes”. 

That actually applies for every MS Office Product, you should not put them under your resume unless you REALLY look into get “advanced” on each of these.

My Experience: My first internship had me using excel almost daily (that lasted for about a year). Everyone can use formulas and functions, you might  have done so even in high school but I’ve only became proficient once I started using macros. You can automate thousands of tasks and finish them in literally minutes instead of hours!

Once I got my first job, I had to use Excel everyday too which covered most of the stuff everyone was doing, we obviously used a CAD software too but at the time it was property of the company (custom made CAD software).

4. C++ / C / Java

While it’s true you can run all calculations and even simulations through MatLab.

It’s slightly different than most programming languages like Java, C and C++ which are (some) object oriented. That’s just jargon to mean they’re designed to solve “programming issues” rather than simulation issues. C and C++ , at least when I was a student, were super popular for programming systems like automobiles, robots and the like.

My friends actually used C to win a nation-wide robot design competition.

You can use either of these but it’s super useful to get acquianted with any of these .

Most schools will get you started with either C++ or C and in some cases Java, you can then move onto the programming language of your choice to finish assingments and to work on your projects. 

If you aren’t school yet and don’t know squat about programming, I recommend this standford lectures on the basics. It’s what really got me interestede in programming….the good ol’ days.

5. Python

You’ve probably come across “Python” courses throughout youtube , they’re all over the place and the reason is that it’s become the most popular programming language used by ALL degrees. Ranging from physicists to data scientists and engineers, even chemistry and biology researchers use it.
And that’s key word for python, it’s mostly for research.
I know you’re still in high school or this is your first year in school but if you ever wanted to work in a “lab” sort of like a mad scientist trying to make break throughs you’ll need python. You don’t have to be a physicist or chemist or a biologist. Engineers doing research find it useful too.

6. Latex

Latex is not really a requirement unless you get involved in research and start publishing papers for scientific journals and such.

However, learning how to use will make writing papers be it for engineering or english classes, not only become much easier but much much more neat. You can even hand in your math homeworks using Latex and your teacher will take notice of how dedicated you are to every detail. Trust me, you’ll get an extra +5 or 10 points for every homework you hand in (in a 100 scale).

I personally use Latex through the web but there are several software you can install on your computer to learn and to use it. You can check out my “100 free software” for it and head down to the “writing papers” section.

7. Wolfphram Alpha


Wolfphram isn’t really something you have to take classes to use it. You can use it right now if you want. It’s basically an advanced calculator you can use to get the answer for a complicated calculation.

You could use C++ , python and MatLab to do the same calculations but I personally like using Wolffram Alpha because it’s just quicker and intuitive.

You don’t necessarily need to use Wolffram Alpha though there are plenty of other software available to run difficult calculations but the point is you need to have one of these under your belt.

Make sure to only use it to double check your answers otherwise you’re going to be in trouble exam time comes.

8-10. Specialized Software

These last three aren’t really something you’re going to be using all the time but you’re definitely going to see them in school. A few of these like Revit Catia ANSIS and ChemCad will become your main tools at a job for sure.

Electrical and Computer : LabView, SPICE, Verilog
Software : Computer Architecture Simulator, Linux, Git
Chemical : Aspen, Chemcad, ProII
Civil : Civil 3D, Revit, STAAD pro
Mechanical : LabView,CATIA, ANSYS

Conclusion: My experience….

As a mechanical engineer, I worked for an automobile company and shoehorned my way into product development after two years. I was basically using excel , programming and writing reports for the first two years but once I got into the development deparment I used a 3D modeling software (propietary) like SolidWorks. Although the other companies either used Catia or NX.

It didn’t take me that long to learn how to design and model with the software i was given or CATIA because I already knew how to use AutoCAD fro my school days.

If you don’t have time to learn all of these software to make your resume look outstanding, my advice is for you to join lots of clubs, even the 3D modeling or “SolidWorks” club or the “automobile club” “robot club” will show companies you’re willing to learn new things and you have enough interest in those subjects to learn anything that comes up.

One thought on “The 10 Most Useful Engineering Software You Must Learn

  • April 20, 2018 at 6:22 pm

    Hello. Thank you for the interesting publication. With great pleasure I read. I want to say that Javascript Studio Pro is my favorite program. In my opinion, one of the best programs for developers and developers of programmers. By the way, you can download it completely free here:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.