Smart Devices for Smart Design, Part III: Top Apps for Designers/Engineers

By Andy Brown and Ben Prehoda

This week in Andy and Ben’s Smart Devices for Smart Design blog series, we will be looking at a few of our favorite engineering apps for mobile devices and discussing what each of us think about the practicality of these apps for use in the field.

Just in case you missed the first two parts in our three part series, here is a quick recap: In the first installment, Ben introduced the idea of using mobile devices to make field investigation easier by decreasing the amount of paper and paper peripherals that an engineer or designer would have to take with them. In the second installment, Andy discussed which types of technology were best suited for field investigation, taking into consideration mobility and ease of use. For our third installment, we’ve teamed up to tackle a list of top apps that we think are the most efficient and useful for design and reference. Here we go:

NEC LogoNEC 2014 Edition by NFPA

Available for iOS in the iTunes App Store; $79.99
Available for Android in the Google Play Store; $79.99

Since we both happen to be Electrical Designers, this one makes our list. I know it seems a little pricey for an app, but hear me out: this is just like the printed codebook, but hipper and easier to use. In a massively more portable format on your phone or tablet, this handy little app gives you access to the entire NEC Handbook with easy search features and updates that don’t require pulling pages out of binders. Having surveyed a few people in our office, there are some who still prefer the physical code book, but for the engineer/designer on-the-go, this bad boy is quite useful.


Engineering Cookbook logoEngineering Cookbook by Loren Cook Company

Available for iOS in the App Store; Free
Available for Android on Google Play; Free

So we reached across the aisle and asked our mechanical engineering colleagues for a favorite app for mechanical designers/engineers, and fellow Wood Harbinger blogger John Taylor chimed in with a good one. The Engineering Cookbook has a lot of handy formulas, charts, standards, guidelines, and other useful information for mechanical engineers.


Bluebeam Revu logoRevu by Blubeam

Available for iOS in the iTunes store; $9.99 (iPad only)

For those of you who are unaware, Bluebeam is a fantastic desktop PDF viewer and mark-up tool geared towards engineers and architects. The iPad version is a slick format with all the important functionality of its chained-to-the-desk big brother. With the ability to measure, add symbols, make notes, and collaborate with other team members using the Studio Session functionality, this tool is a monster asset for engineers who still work very heavily in a 2D universe.


Engineering Pro by Multieducator logoEngineering Professional by Multieducator Inc.

Available for iOS in the iTunes store; $11.99

This is a multi-discipline formula calculator, perfect for any engineer as a quick reference. Covering formulas from Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Environmental, Hydrology, and Mechanical engineering, this app is a one-stop shop for anything you might need, formula-wise. It includes not only over 650 formulas, but also the documentation on the purpose of each formula, and is a great resource for people preparing to take their professional exams or the battle-scarred engineer who has long since purged these formulas from the ol’ brainbox to make room for more important things.


Bim LogosBIM 360 Field and BIM 360 Glue by Autodesk

Available for iOS in the iTunes store; Free

As much as we love Autodesk’s entire cloud-based suite, there is a special place in our hearts for these two snappy apps, and that’s without even looking at the price. These two are soul mates. The tools are incredibly powerful, and we would encourage any interested parties to take a deeper look at all they have to offer. Glue aids in the preconstruction side of building design, from design development and BIM model coordination to the Construction and collaboration phase, while Field works from construction into Commissioning and handover. The simple user interfaces and cloud-hosted documents make a cohesive team and model atmosphere easily achievable with track-able workflows, task lists, coordination reviews, and quality assurance measures built in. It helps wrestle the many overwhelming moving parts of building construction and project management into a much more manageable process… which is why these two products are any BIM-leaning designer’s BFF.

We know that there are a ton of other engineering apps out there. We chose this list because we feel these apps can be easily integrated into a designer’s/engineer’s routine without detracting from what they know best. Each one of these takes a big step into moving the office-design-work model straight into the field. In the words of Reading Rainbow’s LeVar Burton, “But you don’t have to take my word for it…” Try them out for yourselves!

Got a favorite engineering app we didn’t list? Share the wealth and leave us a comment about it!


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