Top 25 Open Source Software Apps for Engineers

by admin on January 24, 2011

If you are interested in engineering, you probably know that you often need computer programs to help you accomplish various tasks. These computer programs can be expensive, though, or difficult to customize. With the help of open source software, though, you can usually find lower prices and have access to code that allows you to customize as needed.

No matter your engineering salary, you can benefit from open source software. Here are 25 great open source software apps that engineers might find helpful:

CAD Software

If you are looking for computer aided design software, you can find open source versions. These are great resources.

  1. FreeCAD: If you are looking for an open source 3D computer assisted design program, this can be a good option. Includes macro recording, and loadable extensions. Platform independent, and features great support for users. A useful design application for engineers.
  2. Open CASCADE: One of the best open source engineering technologies out there. A great opportunity to allow for 3D surface modeling, as well as data exchange and visualization. Powerful open source software for engineers and others.
  3. BRL-CAD: This is a cross platform open source CAD application. Engineers can use it to engage in solid modeling. Great with its interactive editing, as well as image processing tools and analysis capability. A great tool for any open source engineering toolbox.
  4. PythonCAD: This open source CAD project, written in Python, is aimed at providing a program that can be used with great success on Linux and Unix. A great program, PythonCAD offers a number of helpful features and useful tweaks that can help you enhance your abilities.
  5. BlenderCAD: Part of the open source projects offered by the Blender Foundation, this computer assisted design software offers a number of helpful utilities. Great user interface, and the ability to carry out various design projects, this is a great help to engineers.
  6. Archimedes: This multiple operating system open source CAD program can be quite helpful for engineers. It makes use of the Rick Client Platform from Eclipse, offering an extensible program. You can customize fairly easily. A worthwhile engineering tool.
  7. OpenSCAD: Meant for programmers, this is a solid 3D CAD modeller. This is a fairly basic modeller meant to focus on the CAD aspects. It’s not terribly artistic, but it does get the job — and get it done well. Perfect for engineers looking for something that is eminently practical.

Element Modeling and Fluid Dynamics

Many engineers understand the importance of finite element modeling, as well as fluid dynamics. If these are actions that you need carried out, these open source software apps can help.

  1. Elmer: This is a cool software program meant for those with multiphysical problems. Includes modeling ability for fluid dynamics, as well as electromagnetics and heat transfer. A great simulator for engineers working in a variety of fields.
  2. Impact: Meant to be a simple alternative to some of the more complex finite element programs, Impact offers a solution for engineers. This program uses an explicit time stepping algorithm meant to simulate dynamic situations. Impact can be helpful for engineers working with dynamic simulations.
  3. OpenFVM: Released under the GPL license, this open source software offers a CFD solver that engineers can use for a variety of projects. In addition to evaluating partial differential equations, OpenFVM can also solve non-isothermal multiphase flow.
  4. SALOME: Open source platform aimed at numerical simulation. This integration software can help engineers create a CAD-CAE link. Uses one or more external solvers to help perform computation, and displays the results clearly.
  5. Gmsh: Engineers can get good use out of this 3D finite element grid generator. Comes with a build-in CAD engine. Has its own scripting language. This open source software is released under a GPL. Includes advanced capabilities for visualization.
  6. Code_Aster: You will have to get a version in English, but once you have it, you can use this open source software to help you with finite element applications. A great engineering tool.


Get help with visualization software. A great tool for many engineers. Also includes some numerical computation software.

  1. WorldWind: This cool application is a NASA software program. You can get a great view of Earth with help from this visualization software. Great for engineers looking for a 3D interactive globe.
  2. VisIt: This visualization tool can be helpful to engineers looking for a graphical analysis tool. It’s a great way to view scientific data. Works with Linux and personal computer. A tool developed by the Department of Energy.
  3. Sage: Engineers looking for mathematics and numerical computation, and who want an open source alternative to some of the other non-open source programs out there like Matlab and Maple, can get Sage. Helpful and interesting, using an interface based on Python.
  4. EngLab: This open source math platform is designed with engineers in mind. It is easy to use, and requires little programming knowledge. A great solution and tool for engineers looking for scalability.
  5. OpenDX: Looking to turn your data into something visual? This open source software will do just that. A helpful application that can help engineers turn data into something that can be seen. Customize and distribute your own tweaks.
  6. SciLab: This cool, free platform for numerical computation can help you turn numbers into something a little more workable. A great tool for engineers looking for a little more help.

Space Engineering

There are a number of cool open source software programs aimed at those who work primarily with space. If you are a space engineer, these apps may be of help.

  1. libnova: Celestial mechanics and astronomy are within your grasp with the help of this open source software. Helps engineers calculate different orbit velocities, atmospheric refraction, aberration and other properties.
  2. Java Astrodynamics Toolkit (JAT): This is perfect for the astrodynamic engineer. Makes use of Java, and offers an opportunity for you to use a library of components to create your own application. Great for solving unique issues that you run across in aerodynamics.
  3. Rocket Workbench Project: If you are involved in engineering experimental rockets, this open source application might be for you. This is a free application, released under a GPL license.
  4. GMAT: The General Mission Analysis Tool is great for those interested in space. Developed by NASA, this great open source application can help engineers simulate trajectory and analyze missions.
  5. Open-SESSAME Framework: Another cool space tool that engineers can use to help analyze different spacecraft operations. For those engineers on the cutting edge of space science and technology, this can be a useful tool.
  6. Orekit: This is a great tool for engineers involved in satellite orbit and other aspects of space dynamics.

Did you enjoy this article?


Previous Post: 50 Must-See Report Cards, Studies and Infographics on America's Crumbling Infrastructure

Next Post: Impressive Building Rankings – The Ultimate List