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Architectural Drafting and Estimating Technology Program
North Dakota State College of Science, ND

Architecture dates itself from prehistoric time, before recorded history, when humans constructed stone circles, megaliths, and rock structures. Ancient architecture dates back from 3000 BC to 337 BC, whenEgyptian, Grecian, and Roman civilizations built enormous temples and shrines. The 1950s era of modern Architecture owes a great debt to advances in technology and technologically advanced materials that significantly influenced design. It is also technology that has significantly influenced the training and skills needed by today’s professionals in the field.

In a recent review of U.S. Department of Labor 2005 statistics, two “Significant Points” for individuals interested in the field of architectural drafting are outlined. The first point is that the type of quality of the postsecondary programs should include considerable skill and experience in the use of technology, especially in computer-aided design and drafting systems. The second point claims that demand for particular drafting specialties, including estimating and project development, vary geographically, depending on the needs of local industry.

Following the trends and influences of technology, North Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS), created the asynchronous online Architectural Drafting and Estimating Technology Program to provide educational opportunity to fit the growing needs of place-bound and time-restricted students.

Program Description

The Architectural Drafting and Estimating Technology Program at NDSCS is designed to prepare students for work in a broad range of construction-related industries and occupations, including drafting, estimating, sales, construction management, and project coordinator. General contractors, subcontractors, home builders, architectural and engineering firms, material suppliers, manufacturers, and building centers all have specific areas of employment for graduates.

In addition to a full AAS degree, the program offers an Estimating Certificate of Completion and a Residential Drafting Certificate of Completion, with strong course emphasis in computer-aided drafting (CAD) for residential and commercial buildings, structural design, mechanical and electrical systems, presentation techniques, and remodeling projects. A short outline of the courses for the Estimating Certificate of Completion follows:

  • Residential Methods and Materials (three credits)
    This course offers an introduction to residential methods of construction and the terminology and use of residential building materials. It also introduces basic mechanical and electrical equipment and functions and space requirements related to residential construction. Students are encouraged to visit jobsites to examine the latest methods of residential construction.
  • Construction Blueprint Reading (two credits)
    Focus is on residential and light commercial construction prints. Emphasis is placed on the basic understanding and interpretation of linework, symbols, and details commonly shown in residential construction.
  • Construction Estimating I (four credits)
    This is an introductory course in residential material and labor estimating with fundamental principles of construction estimating introduced through experiential learning of material lists, calculations, and cost methods for several different houses and pole-type construction.
  • Construction Estimating II (three credits)
    This course covers manual and computer-assisted estimating procedures. Several light commercial and multifamily buildings will be estimated. Labor costing methods are included, and several of the projects focus on the study of metal-building terminology using Butler Advantage software.
  • Construction Estimating III (three credits)
    Focus is on manual and computer-assisted takeoff procedures for large commercial buildings. Students become familiar with contracting and bidding procedures, including calculating man-hours for various construction tasks and project development.

A short outline of the courses for the Residential Drafting Certificate of Completion follows:

  • Architectural Drafting I (five credits)
    Architectural Drafting covers basic drafting skills as applied to residential drafting concepts. These concepts include sketching, interior planning, exterior style, blueprint reading, and code interpretation. The students will learn the step-by-step process for designing and laying out a set of working drawings for a residential home.
  • Architectural Drafting II (five credits)
    This course is a continuation of Residential Construction. Students develop a complete set of working drawings for a two-story house. Stair sections, framing plans, truss construction, and a study of kitchen layouts and elevations are included in the exercises.
  • Construction Blueprint Reading (two credits)
    This is a study of residential and light commercial construction prints, emphasizing the basic understanding and interpretation of linework, symbols, and details commonly shown in residential construction.
  • Intro to AutoCAD (three credits)
    An introduction to the operation and application of CAD using AutoCAD 2004 software, with drawing and editing commands studied and used in a final project.


Growth in the construction industry has been strong for many years and has contributed to a high demand for architectural-drafting and estimating employees. This demand has recently been strengthened and expanded, with housing interest rates at a historic low and home building at an all-time high. The Architectural Drafting and Estimating Technology curriculum at NDSCS is the only program of its kind in North Dakota, and it is only one of two in a four-state region. To our knowledge, there are no Architectural Drafting and Estimating Technology online curricula in the United States. Since online instruction offers an education anytime and anywhere, our program meets the demands of employers nationwide and beyond.

Partner Transaction Models

North Dakota State College of Science will offer the following model to guide negotiation with prospective partners and institutions interested in delivering this program to students through home-college offerings.

Model #1: Online Hosting Model

NDSCS will cross-list a number of students from a partner institution or host a separate section of the course for SAIL Partners at $156 per credit, per student. NDSCS will provide an expert faculty member, server hosting, and online student support services, and the SAIL Partner College transcripts the course.

For more information, contact Margaret Wall, Distance Education Director, North Dakota State College of Science
For course descriptions, please visit Architectural Drafting and Estimating.




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