A First for STEM in B.C.

Zero Textbook Costs for Computer Aided Drafting at Vancouver Community College

Students who enroll in the Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) Technician short certificate at Vancouver Community College (VCC) no longer have to purchase textbooks to complete their program. With support from BCcampus and the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, VCC received funding in 2019 to create open educational resources (OER) that cover all requirements for the short certificate. As part of the BCcampus STEM zero textbook cost (ZTC) project, two open textbooks have been developed and are available in the BCcampus Open Textbook Collection: AutoCAD 2D eBook and AutoDesk 3D eBook.

Front cover of the AutoCad 2D ebook. The cover is divided into 4 quadrants and in each quadrant is a computer drawn blueprint-style plan
AutoCAD 2D EBook cover is under a CC BY 4.0 Licence (

The open textbooks include important instructor material such as labs and templates. Until now there have been no open textbooks for teaching drafting skills and the use of AutoCAD software. The ZTC CAD Technician certificate can be completed in 14 weeks and introduces students to practical drafting skills. Completion of the certificate provides entry into jobs in the home design, construction, and renovation fields. Eliminating textbook costs for students in this program means they can focus on getting the skills they need to enter the field without carrying the extra financial burden of required textbooks. In addition, since the textbooks were not previously available in electronic format, having a digital open textbook means students can easily access and refer to the content they need while using AutoCAD software.

“Thank you to BCcampus for their generous contribution supporting the conversion of drafting textbooks to an open textbook format,” said Brett Griffiths, dean of the School of Trades, Technology and Design at VCC. “The initiative is the first step for future drafting technicians, providing high school teachers and students access to textbooks at no cost, giving them a head start when enrolling in VCC’s CAD and Building Information Modelling (BIM) technician programs.”

Front cover of the AutoCad 3D ebook. The cover is divided into 4 quadrants and in each quadrant is a computer drawn tool or machine plan.
AutoCAD 3D eBook cover is under a CC BY 4.0 Licence (

The project has the potential to make an impact beyond the drafting programs at VCC. Computer-aided drafting (AutoCAD in particular) is taught across many programs and institutions in B.C., such as in engineering classes, and the work will not end there. A third book, AutoDesk Inventor eBook, is also available in the BCcampus Open Textbook Collection, and a fourth book, AutoDesk Inventor Advanced, is in development. These two additional texts will make ZTC in the 10-month drafting certificate at VCC possible as well.

This is one of two new ZTC programs in STEM in the province. A ZTC associate science degree at Thompson Rivers University is in development and will be available in 2022.

Notable quote:

“We have seen such amazing development and adoption of STEM OER over the past couple of years. Since 2019 the adoption of OER has doubled in B.C., bringing the total to over $22 million in student savings. At least half of that amount is in STEM subjects. The ZTC drafting certificate is just one example where we see an important shift in OER use for STEM from one-offs to full programs.” 

– Melanie Meyers, project manager in open education, BCcampus

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The feature image for this post (viewable in the BCcampus News section at the bottom of our homepage) is by Matej from Pexels

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