Enforcing CAD Standards Without Authority

Enforcing CAD Standards Without Authority

There’s a myth among CAD and BIM managers that authority is the secret to success. A common belief is unless you are given the authority to enforce what … Read more

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Integrated Communication – Why BIM doesn’t require Revit

Integrated Communication – Why BIM doesn’t require Revit

image Chances are if you’re an AEC professional and haven’t heard about BIM; you probably don’t have a pulse. As I continue my job search there’s one question that consistently amuses me; do you have any experience with BIM software? From that question alone, I know the person asking it has a limited knowledge of what BIM is. Simply stated BIM is process not software; products like Revit, Civil 3D, Inventor, even vanilla AutoCAD are simply tools that help us to execute that process. Backed by the right process, I’d argue that one could create a BIM workflow using nothing but AutoCAD LT. I say that because BIM is not defined by drawing files; instead by the way the people responsible for those drawing files choose to integrate them and use them in an asynchronous manner.

It was this underlying concept that caught my eye while reading a post on Baskervill’s Blog entitled IMC and A/E/C = Perfect Harmony. The acronym IMC is defined as Integrated Marketing Communications, and is used to describe the asynchronous use of several delivery mechanisms to broadcast and reinforce a consistent message. While the post is understandably focused on marketing, it brings up several points that I feel transcends nearly all professional disciplines.

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Training Program Reinforcement Part 2

image In my last post I spoke about the power of reinforcement in the world of education. My point to making the connection between academia and corporate learning is that reinforcement is no less important in academia than it is in a corporate learning environment. But without report cards, parent-teacher conferences, and other staples of academia, how does one reinforce corporate training?

It’s as simple as this. Corporate training shouldn’t end when your employees leave the classroom. In all likelihood your employees will come back from training excited about all the cool things they were shown in training, but how much of it did they actually retain? Fact of the matter is this, you have no clue what your employees did or did not retain.

A comprehensive training program will follow-up on the classroom learning offered to your employees. You can choose the best way to quantify what your employees truly learned in training. You may choose to create an assessment customized to your company, and the way it does things. On the other hand, you may choose to have your employees take one of the Certification Exams offered by Autodesk. The method isn’t the important part here; it’s the reinforcement you’ll be able to provide as a result of your employees taking an assessment.

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Training Program Reinforcement Part 1

image It’s hard to believe, but 3 weeks ago I started my employment with Ronald A. Williams. Last week was quite exciting as I got to meet a number of our customers for the first time at a CTE conference. For those outside the education world, CTE stands for Career & Technical Education, and is perhaps better known as vo-tech. I must say, getting to chat with the teachers who are in the classrooms training the next generation of CAD professionals was quite interesting. Frankly, the inner-geek in me just couldn’t help but start comparing the world of education to industry.

One topic I found especially intriguing was the profoundly different ways education and industry measure success of their students/employees. Companies pour thousands and thousands of dollars into training their staff, but how is success primarily measured? Typically success in industry is measured by the dollar; Return on Investment. If I invest x-dollars in training, how much will new efficiency gains make me back over time?

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Convincing Management to Upgrade

Brian Benton of CAD-a-Blog recently commented on my last post Engineered Efficiency offers Unlimited Live Training, telling a story I hear all too often. Let me summarize; in short his firm upgraded to Civil 3D 2007 a couple years ago, but aren’t using Civil 3D – instead they’re running “Civil 3D as AutoCAD”. Doing that is like buying a BlackBerry, and ignoring the all powerful e-mail abilities of the device. Consequently the kneejerk reaction is nothing less than – what are you thinking?

There’s no two ways to say this, other than the economy is nowhere near what it was just a year ago. Companies are looking for ways to save money and streamline workflows. As CAD Managers we look at inefficiencies in workflows and solve them with technology. CEO’s and COO’s will oftentimes look at the same inefficiencies and solve them with staffing/manpower. But why this separation?

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Multi-Disciplinary Plotting Made Easy

image Plotting is a topic so simple in theory, but yet so difficult in practice. Looking no further than my own firm, I can attest for the difficulties users encounter while plotting. Prior to standardizing the plotting process within my firm; a typical week of support contained 2-3 requests about plotting. Today those requests have been all but eliminated, with only 1 or 2 every couple months. But I need not sell you on the idea of standardization; we all know that saves us in the long run. Instead what I’d like to discuss is the added complexities of plotting within a multi-disciplinary firm.

We have the super-firms out there, with Architectural, MEP, Structural, and maybe even Civil out there, but in that mix is also smaller firms. Maybe you work in a smaller MEP or Civil/Survey firm. Regardless the firm size, the challenge is the same, referencing another department’s work and plotting it is flat out difficult. Doing this typically means going through some sort of rogue procedure just to make the plan look good.

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Secret to Training Engineers

Good employees are hard to find, and even harder to keep. While this virtue is undeniably true in just about any industry, I find it to be especially true within the engineering industry. Many have heard the timeless question; is the glass half full or half empty? Optimists will respond stating the glass is half full, pessimists half empty. Engineers on the other hand will simply conclude the glass to be twice the size it needs to be. While I mention the parody in jest, its truthfulness can unveil some key insights as to the way engineers learn.

Arguably the most fundamental trait of an engineer is their innate ability to solve problems. Simple or complex, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is a conclusive yes or no answer can be found. This passion for discovering the answers to problems big and small consequently feeds into what could be described as an endless appetite for information. Much like a chef can take seemingly unrelated ingredients and make a celebrated dish, engineers have the ability to take seemingly unrelated pieces of information and assemble it together into a larger concept or idea.

Sometimes the process of assembling fragments of information into a single concept can take seconds, other times it can take days or months. Engineers have the tendency of building a relevancy engine our non-engineer friends are likely to find annoying. So why are we able to remember things our non-engineer friends cannot? In essence it boils down to the way we as engineers commit things to memory.

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