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US National CAD Standard, NCS 3.1-07, for Electrical Design

Thomas Mason, PE

Course Outline

The course begins with the Statement of Compliance. This is a required form, which must be presented on the cover sheet of the construction drawing set. Each statement will be very briefly explained, much in the way a glossary explains the technical words used in a report.

Second, each statement will be converted into a checklist, for ease of determining compliance at submission and during later audit. Within the checklist, examples will be given, showing acceptable and unacceptable forms. Note that the checklist and interpretation are by the author and not part of the published standard. Also, all examples will be in the electrical discipline, totally ignoring structural, mechanical and architectural applications. A list of references is included at the end of the course.

The course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this course, the student will:

Intended Audience

This course is specifically directed towards electrical designers concerned about complying with the latest CAD standards. Content will be relevant to other disciplines, project managers and CADD managers. In call cases, purchase of the full NCS 3.1-07 from National Institute of Building Sciences, 1090 Vermont Ave, NW, #700, Washington, DC 20005-4905, is recommended.

Benefit to Attendees

The course is about NCS 3.1-07, expected to be adopted by organizations which purchase facility design services. Persons providing design services and making proposals for design contracts need to know what the requirements are when the Request For Proposal calls for "compliance with National CAD Standards". This course will make clear that NCS is just good design practice - not necessarily consistent with past conventions followed, but clearly good design practice. If and when Clients do require NCS compliance, the Worksheet makes definition, review and audit straight-forward tasks.

Course Introduction

Most designers learned their skills on-the-job. Red-pencil mark-ups indicated sections to be changed and indicated the change required. After a few projects, the red-pencil marks became very few and the designer was deemed skilled in his trade. This worked very well within a discipline, such as Electrical, within a single firm. However, it was common for electrical design and mechanical design to appear to have come from different firms.

The most common response to this problem was a CAD Manager with military bearing, who had to sign-off the completed design before it was released to the Client. The CAD Manager, typically, prepared a set of CAD Standards, for his own use. It became obvious that design time was used more efficiently if the designers and draftpersons knew what was required, and the firm's CAD Standards were published internally.

Today, large customers of facility design services, such a governmental bodies, quasi-independent agencies, utilities, industrial and commercial giants, all have CAD standards, which they require of work done for them.

When we are done, the Client will still determine what is good CAD presentation, but it is hoped that the many client and provider CAD standards will converge into a National CAD Standard. This is the goal of US National CAD Standard 3.1-2007 (NCS 3.1-07).

The only visible part of NCS 3.1-07 is the Statement of Compliance, required to be on the cover sheet of the construction drawing set. (It might be argued that each detail of each sheet of the set reflects compliance with the Standard, but the Standard only codifies what was good practice previously.)

Course Content

In this lesson, you are required to download and study the following course content in PDF format:

Worksheet for NCS 3.1-07
US National CAD Standard, NCS 3.1-07, for Electrical Design

Please click on the above underlined hypertext to view, download or print the document for your study. Because of the large file size, we recommend that you first save the file to your computer by right clicking the mouse and choosing "Save Target As ...", and then open the file in Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you still experience any difficulty in downloading or opening this file, you may need to close some applications or reboot your computer to free up some memory.

Course Summary

Cad standards are intended to improve the uniformity of presentation, improve the economy of preparing the construction documents and improve the economy of later revisions of the documents. The key concept to successful application of NCS 3.1-07 is recognizing that it does not really require all of the elements shown, it only requires that, if present, they comply with the Standard.

Related Links and References

For additional technical information related to this subject, please visit the following websites or web pages: - Frequently asked questions, posed by and answered by the NCS folk - website for NIBS, dedicated to NCS - National Institute of Building Sciences - (Military) Tri-Service CAD / GIS council, with free downloads - a one-paragraph entry - downloadable electronic files of details per NCS, Whole Building Design Guide is a part of NIBS - uncomplimentary article about NCS in Cadalyst, a highly-respected magazine for CAD users - Wiley (publisher) webpage for a Guide to NCS for Architects - user interactions on NCS, sponsored by AutoCAD - article on NCS from Architosh, a MacIntosh-specific architectural publication - most interesting. This is the free download site for the CAD Standard of the City of Singapore, provided by Bentley, the MicroStation people. - very nice overview article on NCS from Consulting Specifying Engineer



Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.