Top 10 Online Engineering Programs

Christopher McFadden
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Cloud or browser based software solutions have grown massively in recent years and engineering programs are no exception. With free and SaaS options available for a wide variety of solutions available for any budget. Historically, users would need to buy licenses and download/install the software directly onto their computers.

Cloud or online based solutions offer people the benefits of access to documents and software from any computer with internet access. They offer flexibility, disaster recovery, automatic updates, wider scope for collaboration and many other benefits over traditional desktop-based options.

Cloud-based solutions have the following benefits:

1. This kind of solution means IT costs are reduced as the need for constantly upgrading hardware and software is eliminated

2. Online-based solution allow licenses to be added or reduced as project needs fluctuate

3. Cloud-based solutions offer data storage and collaboration solutions for user

4. Site based and office based personnel can have immediate access to project documents, saving time and money

Don't get SaaS-y

This can be thought of as software on demand, you effectively rent rather than buy the software. With this option, you would pay a monthly subscription to the use the software. With this option, like most online programs, is used with a browser user interface with files stored online rather than on individual computers.

Here is our pick of the best ten online engineering program currently available (as usual this list is not exhaustive):

Computer-Aided Designing (CAD) Software

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SkyCiv Structural 3D

SkyCiv Structural 3D is a structural Analysis program designed to allow users to model complex 3D structures. Being completely online there is nothing to install. This software is accessible via a monthly subscription basis.

Branded as offering the best online structural analysis tool, it prides itself on providing a personal touch - isn't that nice?

SkyCiv offers results for Bending and Shear force Stress, Axial Force and Stress, Deflection, Buckling Analysis, Torsion, full 3D Renderer with Results and Text Analysis and Reporting. It also offers Beam, Truss, Frame and Structural software that they say "is sure to have the solution for any of your structural analysis needs."

Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) Software

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IMOLD for SolidWorks provides designers with a powerful mold design software. With over a decade of experience in computer aided design, this software is designed to aid and streamline mold design (the name might be a giveaway here). Building on the company's experience, it's designed to provide users with expert, highly efficient design tools, with step by step guide, to provide a complete mold design process.

They claim:- "Besides greatly shortening the lead time for design, IMOLD also offers unparalleled integration to existing manufacturing systems to dramatically reduce the mold delivery schedule."


GeniusWorks is designed to streamline order-to-cash operations for Machinery and Equipment, Steel Tank and Process to name but a few. Billed as providing an end-to-end software solution specifically designed for custom manufacturers, GeniusWorks should prove invaluable. GeniusWorks has SoftWorks (see later) integration options too.


CloudCalc offers cloud-based structural analysis software that is cross-platform (PC and Mac). It enables validation against the AISC code.

This software enables the user to model graphically or through text input and rotate/zoom/pan models in 3D. IT offers over 6,500 AISC, BS, IMCA and IS template models. You can select, view and hide individual elements of the model or group them. The editing options allow unlimited undo/redo options - which is always handy.

Cloudcalc also provides the user with analysis functions such as static analysis/concentrated dead/live loads. You can also check models against AISC ASD and LRFD codes.

It also offers other analysis functions such as:

- Non-linear effects (P-delta and automatic stiffness reduction)

- Calculation and animation of dynamic modes of vibration

- Response spectrum method for seismic analysis

- Formatted report with nodal displacements, element forces and stresses, reactions, code compliance ratios

Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) Software


This is a cloud-based CAE platform which, they say,  lets you seamlessly simulate, share and collaborate with 70,000+ engineers in an online community. SimScale also allows the user to browse through a database of pre-prepared simulations. The community function of SimScale gives the user access to a public simulations projects for free. The software is actually three programmes in one, comprising of Fluid Dynamics, Finite element analysis and Thermodynamics modelling.

Project Management

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Softworks was developed to assist manufacturing companies to maximise project management within their organisations. It offers workforce planning, scheduling, legislative compliance and manage planned and unplanned absences. Softworks is a great for providing a completely automated manufacturing workforce environment.

Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Software


Mech-Q is an AutoCAD-based software product for a wide range of engineering applications. ASVIC have developed the software to service a wide range of engineering projects including mechanical, piping and HVAC design to structural steel modelling.


Do you design beams, plates/shells or other 3D structures for aerospace, energy, automotive industries? Then this software might just be your next best friend.

Either used as a standalone package or plug-in for other conventional FEA, SwiftComp offers high-fidelity multiscale modelling for composites. They claim it provides a single platforms for 1D, 2D and 3D modelling with quick calculations of the effective properties for composite structures. It can also compute the best properties for structural analysis and can predict local stress/strains in the microstructure.

SimWise 4D

For those who design moving parts whether purely mechanical and mechatronic, SimWise 4D is the perfect tool.

This software provides 3D dynamic and kinematic motion simulation with FEA and optimisation. SimWide 4D allows the user to simulate the final product in motion and determine part interference or collision, identify stress points and produe physics-based animations and much more.

The benefits of this kind of design environment allows the user to resolve design issues and reduce failures (not to mention cost) and ultimately speed up production.

Electronic Design Automation (EDA) Software

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Conveniently for us, EasyEDA is a cloud-based PCB design software. This software allows the used to design schematics and PCB anytime, anywhere around the world.

The product has a huge library of schematic components, PCB footprints and packages with spice simulation, models and .subckts to boot.

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