The first CAD/CAM

My career is closely connected with computer-aided manufacturing, or CAM. In modern manufacturing, CAM is preceded by CAD, computer-aided design. Complicated electro-mechanical mechanisms, such as an airplane or passenger vehicle, are composed of subsystems, which are each a collection of assembled parts. Many of these parts are fabricated using machining, where a simple form (such as a rectangular prism or cylinder) is modified by cutting away the unwanted material to leave the desired part. Sometimes the starting form is more complex. A V-8 engine block, for example, begins as molten  metal that is poured into a mold, allowed to solidify, and then finish machined to leave the required dimensions and surfaces.

Before machining begins, a CAD model of the part is produced. This CAD model, which initially exists only in the designer’s mind and then digitally in computer software, is used to produce the CAM file. This file includes the instructions that guide the computer numerically-controlled (CNC) milling or turning machine axes. These axes carry the cutting tool which removes the unwanted material. It is a mesmerizing experience to watch a design emerge from a block of material.

This manufacturing sequence makes me think of Genesis from the Bible.

God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, And, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.” God created human beings; he created them godlike, Reflecting God’s nature. He created them male and female. God blessed them: “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.” (Genesis 1:27 MSG)

God’s CNC is His Word. He speaks creation; He speaks life. In the same way that I have the thought of a part in my mind and then see it appear from within a block of metal, God began with the thought of you and then watched you emerge from dust. As much as I appreciate the parts that I machine, God loves you so much more. He knows you, even if you do not know Him.

May I introduce you? The God of all creation announced Himself this way to Moses, who He sent to deliver the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:13-14 NIV)

Did you know that you’re in slavery as well? Your master is sin. You were born into it. Me too. Did you know that God has already provided for your delivery? He sent His Son, Jesus, to live a life without sin and then die on our behalf to pay our sin penalty. When Jesus rose from the dead, He left our sin in the grave. Deliverance requires only belief in Him.

Listen. You’re a wonderfully crafted part made directly from God’s design. Go meet Him today. Just speak to the I AM; he’s listening!


About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
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