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Thoughts on Penn Foster drafting with autocad


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Hello, I am considering learning drafting and auto cad. I want to take a course online that would allow me to have a flexible schedule but also have a certification of completition that would be recognized by some eployers. I have been recommended to the penn foster program because is online, inexpensive and flexible schedule-wise. But i have read a lot of mixed opinions on this course. Wanted to get some more imput from anyone that has taken the couse. I understand im going to be doing a lot of research on my own to get better with autocad and drafting but as for this course in its certificate,  Would you recomend it to someone that is trying to get started with Autocad? Will i get ripped off? Is there any other online affordable courses that you would recommend instead with a certificate that would help you find a job?


Thank you for your help in advanced! 

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Well, the good thing about penn foster is that you have your own personal instructor here at CadTutor. His name is ReMark and he has helped countless members through the various projects. Take a look through this Student Projects section and you will find many threads covering the penn foster projects.

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Penn-Foster, in my opinion, is not worth the money.  It is a diploma mill (or "certificate" mill).


First off, in the way of full disclosure, I will tell you I did not learn/study AutoCAD by way of Penn-Foster although as Cad64 so graciously mentioned, I have helped dozens of their students with the projects Penn-Foster assigns as part of their coursework.


What is Penn-Foster charging for their AutoCAD based certification course now-a-days?  Just curious.


The major complaints from students who have sought help here at CADTutor are 1) instructors who do not reply to their emailed questions, 2) instructors who lack specific knowledge of a discipline, 3) a tendency to point the student at CADTutor to get answers to their questions, and 4) project instructions that are erroneous, missing information or just plain wrong.


Why AutoCAD and not some other CAD program?  What other avenues of instruction have you looked at for learning AutoCAD?  Where do you live (United States, UK, other)?  Do you have a specific discipline in mind such as architectural, structural, civil, mechanical, other?


BTW...I learned AutoCAD mainly on my own starting back in 1985 when courses were barely being offered by AutoCAD resellers and nowhere else.  But over the years I took advantage of other methods to expand my knowledge. 


In conclusion, I'd be happy to answer any other questions you may have on the subject. 



Edited by ReMark
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Autodesk them selves produced a learning Autocad program on CD it was quite a few versions ago but was interactive unfortunately I think I had a copy but gave it to some one it would now be a 32 bit program. If any one has maybe. Like 2007 ?


Autocad Learning Assistant.

Edited by BIGAL
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DME55:  No reply?


I too remember AutoDesk Learning Assistant I just don't recall when it was stopped being released.  Anyway, here are some options for learning AutoCAD while avoiding Penn-Foster.


1)  The Mycadsite.com.  Still the best free AutoCAD learning website in my opinion.  The website's author has been producing tutorials since 1999.

2)   The CAD Institute.  If you are intent on doing an online certificate course then try this one.  I would recommend signing up for these three courses to begin with: Fundamentals of AutoCAD, AutoCAD Tips & Tricks, and AutoCAD in 3D.  There are three very specific courses available that cover AutoCAD for the architectural, electrical and mechanical disciplines.

3) Lynda CAD Training.  They offer AutoCAD training and tutorials via videos created by AutoCAD professionals.

4) For self learners I'd recommend the Ascent Center for Technical Knowledge.  They produce the manuals and DVDs used by Authorized AutoCAD Resellers to teach AutoCAD. 


One of the four above should work for you or anyone else seeking to learn AutoCAD.


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  • 2 months later...

I just finished the Penn Foster AutoCad course. Got a 96% overall score. Much thanks to ReMark and everyone else on this forum. It was pretty frustrating and would have been MUCH worse without the info I got here. I'm not sure that I would recommend Penn Foster to others. If I did, I would send the person straight here along with the recommendation. If you muscle through it you'll have a decent entry-level understanding of the program I guess. It's WAY more of a time and energy commitment than I expected, and a good chunk of that is not directly related to using the program. There are extensive "old-school" manual drafting chapters you start out with (you'll need to freshen up on geometry formulas) and it seems to take forever to even get access to downloading the program. After completing all that and accessing AutoCad 2017 you go through a long book with lessons, then jump into the 5 projects you finish with. First 3 projects are pretty brutal, then a couple much easier ones. The projects wouldn't be that bad, but the directions are very difficult to understand. It's all text based direction with not much visual reference at all. That's where 80% of your time goes, figuring out the instructions, not actually using the program. Anyways, if you NEED some type of cert for AutoCad and want to work on it on your own time with no in-person classes, Penn Foster works. Just be ready to be persistent though a pretty heavy dose of frustration.

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  • 9 months later...

Hey I am a single father of an 8 year old. I work full time and am a dad full time as well. I currently run a CNC plasma machine and do most of my own drafting and programming. I am looking to learn more about drafting and CAD to be able to move into the drafting department here at my job. We are mostly a structural steel fabrication shop. Is the Ascent Center for Technical Knowledge still the best option for learn at your own pace drafting school?

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Hi tyler, welcome to the CadTutor forum.   :)

When I started self teaching myself Autocad I used MYCADSITE.COM ,as mentioned by ReMark,

and I found it to be very well conceived.

The lessons are presented in a logical manner and are short and focused enough

to help quickly establish a good foundation for solid continued progress.

It would certainly be a good place for you to start, and from the sound

of things you would likely fly through them as you already have your Cad feet wet.

It would help you ascertain quickly additional skills you may have skipped over,

and help you fill in some of the holes and help you build a solid foundation.


BIGAL and ReMark definitely know whereof they speak, so based on their earlier posts,

Ascenst Center would seem to be a strong contender, as they are trusted by Autodesk.


Enjoy the ride, I certainly do, have been enjoying it for the last 12 years, there is always something

new to learn.  I love looking for new ways to do things.  As you are used to programming,

be sure to visit Lee Mac's excellent website, as that will really get your creative juices flowing.

Lee's lisps are brilliant, and very generously made available to the global cad community

as share ware with Donations well deserved, and gladly accepted.

Thanks Lee!   :beer:


I don't write code, but do use the Action Recorder in Autocad all the time,

which is basically a keystroke recorder, and helps me a lot throughout my day, on the fly.


Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana, no time like the pleasant.    ;)



Edited by Dadgad
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 "Is the Ascent Center for Technical Knowledge still the best option for learn at your own pace drafting school?"


Yes.  The material published by Ascent is used by authorized AutoDesk resellers when teaching AutoCAD.  I would also recommend the "Mastering AutoCAD" series of books by George Omura and Brian C. Benton.  



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"I currently run a CNC plasma machine"


There is so much stuff out there if your doing the drafting for say holes and slots automated to be super fast, eg 10 holes with spacing, double line offset for hole, just ask. If it does not exist can normally be put together within a day. Simple little lisps and save a massive amount of time. The obvious a base plate with 4 holes, Len, wid, off, rad, pick a point all done.


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  • 1 year later...

Hello I just started penn foster Autocad diploma career and all i have been doing is reading and taking quizzez. Will i get hands on training on the Autocad software or will I just be reading the whole courses. 

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On 8/28/2022 at 2:57 AM, Edgarjr11 said:

Hello I just started penn foster Autocad diploma career and all i have been doing is reading and taking quizzez. Will i get hands on training on the Autocad software or will I just be reading the whole courses. 

Yes, you will get the opportunity to actually use AutoCAD.  This is done through a series of basic exercises and then so-called projects.  Projects will be in the civil, architectural, and HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) fields.  Each project is graded on a point scale of 0 to 100.  

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