Writing—So Easy a Caveman Can Do It

Writing—So Easy a Caveman Can Do It.

The moment that I think “I need to post on my blog” mental road blocks always pop up veering me off into the procrastination lane.

I enjoy getting things out of my head and sharing them and someday would like to see some financial gain from something that I have written.

I need to work on this and reading this post by Kristen Lamb  provided a much needed alignment to my focus on writing.

CAD Careers

Our focus may be in a niche but Some of you may be interested to know…

Career Couch

The Homework to Do Before Enrolling Online

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Published: June 15, 2008

Q. You want to continue your education, but as a full-time professional you can’t spend the time going back to school. Are online degree programs worth considering?

A. Online degrees can be a boon to your career and your life, as long you choose the right program and understand the commitment that will be involved.

Before you make the leap, be prepared to spend at least 10 to 20 hours a week, for at least one or two years, on your online learning — and possibly more, depending on the degree. And be aware that this type of education requires much more self-direction and self-discipline than traditional classes would.

Q. What does the online education process entail?

A. A lot of time in front of the computer. In most cases, educators record lectures off-line and upload them to a password-protected Web site for students to view when time permits.

Independent of these sessions, students are required to read supplemental texts, many of which are also available in electronic form — and downloadable from the class site.

A majority of online degree programs also involve discussion groups, in which students post comments and feedback to a Web-based discussion board.

Trent E. Gabert, associate dean of the College of Liberal Studies at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, notes that a growing number of discussion sessions occur in real time — in chat rooms where students can interact with one another and, sometimes, with their professor.

“All of these interactions are about the dialogue,” Mr. Gabert said. “When people communicate and work together, they learn.”

Q. How much do online degrees cost?

A. The price varies widely, but in many cases tuition fees are comparable to those at brick-and-mortar schools — minus the added cost of things like room and board. In online programs affiliated with state universities, fees can be less expensive for in-state residents.

Richard Garrett, program director and senior analyst at Eduventures, an education-oriented research firm in Boston, noted that with gasoline prices on the rise, indirect costs of online education might be lower, because students who work on degree programs from home don’t have to spend money on travel.

Q. How do employers view these degrees?

A. While every employer is different, Susan Kryczka, director of distance education at Boston University, said that most treat online degrees as equivalent to degrees obtained by attending classes in classrooms.

Ms. Kryczka said that many employers would cover online education as part of existing tuition reimbursement programs, provided that employees could prove that the online degree pertained to their current job.

Once employees have completed their degrees, she added, many are rewarded with additional compensation for advancing their education.

“Our students have reported very little pushback on the part of their employers,” said Ms. Kryczka, whose program offers eight graduate degrees online.

When employers are considering job applicants, online degrees are also becoming more accepted. Bob Leber, director of education and work-force development at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., says that when employers are evaluating prospective employees, most don’t ask applicants to specify how they obtained their degrees, just where they obtained them.

“It’s not like you have to put on your résumé that you got your master’s online,” Mr. Leber said. “All that matters is that you have a degree.”

Q. What are the downsides to online degree programs?

A. Professionals who opt for online degrees will almost certainly miss out on many of the impromptu lunches, barroom debates and other serendipitous learning experiences that occur on a college campus. You may also be less likely to make lasting personal and professional connections with your online classmates.

And be aware that your time-management skills will be put to the test. It won’t always be easy to concentrate on your schoolwork after a long day at the office.

But perhaps the biggest risk associated with online degree programs is that not all of the programs are created equal.

John Bear, co-author of “Bear’s Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning” (Ten Speed Press), said prospective students should consider working toward online degrees only from accredited institutions, and should contact the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (www.chea.org) to make sure that the accreditations are legitimate.

“The popularity of online degrees has made the bad guys swarm out of the woodwork to the point where there’s now a whole world of bad and fake degrees,” said Mr. Bear, an educational technology consultant in El Cerrito, Calif. “Before you invest time and money, make sure you’re putting it in the right place.”

E-mail: ccouch@nytimes.com.

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Update on Autodesk Student Community

Last year I got very excited about the potential uses of the Autodesk Student & Educator’s Online Communities. So I started the process of registration and told my students about how cool the site was along with the free software downloads.
At the time I was teaching an introduction to CAD, using 2d Autocad. The only software that was not offered was Architectural Desktop, needless to say that was disappointing to all of us.
There is much more that the site offers but that was a key thing that we needed.
The update, I ended up at the educators site this week and to my surprise there was Architectural Desktop available for download. I have figured out, yet, why the change but I am, once again excited.
I work in Maine and the general concensous in the design field here is that “it will be a while before 2D cad can be eliminated. As a small design firm we hire out consulting services for civil, structural, electrical and mechanical design. Three out the four are not using 3D cad yet and the one that is has limited capabilities. We have built up relationships with each of our consultants and that alone is important enough to hold back on going 3D entirely.
In our own office 3D is starting to find its niche as a conceptual design tool. Two of us have become efficient enough to create the contract documents utilizing 3D and we do as much as possible. Still converting base documents to 2D for the consultants.
I am an advocate of the technology but when I got the feeling that Autodesk was no longer supporting Desktop in order to promote Revit I felt that would a mistake, if that was the case.
I am researching this more but for the time being, if you are a 2D student rejoice and learn with free software.
The link to the Student Community is to the right.

CAD Careers, CAD Training, Google Sketch Up

After Class Notes

First off, my apologizes for the dead zone in my posting. Secondly, this will be short but note worthy.
Every semester I meet a new group of new students for the first time. Even though it always goes pretty well, I go through the nervous jitters the hours before class starts.
Today was no exception, I reviewed my notes, re-wrote them and worried that the eleven page outline wouldn’t be enough to get me through the three hour class.

After six years of teaching night classes, all things fell into place and went very well. Two or three pages carried us through the night. I should trust that the outline was I designed to provide 12 hours of instruction has and will. Given the personalities of the students I can tell that this will be a good class.

Remember that I come to class after eight hours at my day job and raising kids. That said I am not boasting but setting a point of reference to say that leaving class each week I find my self pumped! It’s 9:00 on a Tuesday night, I just worked an 11 hour day and I am ready to go!

After twenty five years of drafting teaching has given me new appreciation for a skill that I had lost respect for. The students I meet share a common interest with me. Many of them have great stories to tell and some become part of my business network.

Listen, I can go on but the point is this, if you have a trade or skill that you can share with others, be it kids or adults, do it.

  • The return on your investment will be ten fold.
  • Face fears and find new confidence in yourself.
  • Be yourself, be sincere and offer organized content that you are passionate about.
  • Admit where you fall short on the subject and provide links to resources that will fill the hole.

Teaching isn’t for everyone but giving back, some of what you were fortunate enough to receive, is.

Make it a great day!

CAD, CAD Careers, General

I am curious about who is using Google Sketch Up and how it is being intergrated into the design process

Is there a roll for Google Sketch Up in your job?                     

I am curious about who is using Google Sketch Up and how it is being integrated with Autocad projects. How might this new tool affect your career?

My experience started out on my own and using the free version just to see what it was all about. One year later, Sketch Pro is installed at home; the office and I have one real project behind me. To top it off the boss has asked that I model all of our existing projects for linking to Google Earth to use in marketing.

Going into Sketch Up I had assumed that my experience with CAD would carry me through. I wasn’t completely wrong but I, absolutely, climbed the learning curve faster after reading “Introduction to Google Sketch Up” by Aidan Chopra, with Laura Town (Wiley Pathways – publisher). Even though I don’t have another text to compare this one to I still recommend it highly. This book comfortably takes you from beginner through to advanced skills. For the trainers out there I want to mention that this book is also part of the Wiley & Son’s Pathways line of text. You will have to visit their website for details but the gist is that they use a method of presenting the material, they call C.A.S.E. (Content, Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation). Accompanied by a host of online reference materials, available to teachers and students, the Pathways line of text is on the top of my list for future classes.

My first work related project, you know those ones with a budget, was a very high-end barn/workshop.                                                        After a week or two of modeling the doors, windows and trim in very realistic detail I realized that my time was well spent as a learning exercise but did very little to help the project’s budget. I should have been more focused on the required end product from the start of the project. As an aerial view of multiple buildings, no one could appreciate all that detail work and time I had put into it. Just to scratch the surface, this is one tip I will offer here. In a nutshell, take time to play with the software and get comfortable with the environment. Working in 3D like this can take some time to get used to especially if you spend the majority of your time working in 2D. When you start a project, with Sketch Up, take the time to plan out your attack. Know what the end out put will be (close up and detailed kitchen cabinets or an aerial view of the whole site). These are skills that you are likely to have already, so focus on what you know and you will be more likely to impress the on lookers.

You may remember that I teach an Autocad class? This was where I got my second big Sketch Up project. In voicing my excitement over the potential for Sketch Up to the Adult Education Director, I agreed to teach a nine-hour course that would introduce Sketch Up.

My goal was to:

  • Expose the potential benefits and limitations of the software.
  • Introduce the basic tools and get the students familiar with the 3D environment.
  • Help ease the learning curve the way “Introduction to Google Sketch Up” did for me.


Our first semester went very well and a second class is scheduled for this spring. The only change that I will make is to add another three hours of class time. As far as any future Sketch Up classes go I can foresee switching to a more industry or project specific course structure and going into detail on the tools and processes need to achieve the results.

If there appears to be enough interest I may produce an “Introduction to Sketch Up” online course that would accomplish the same goals as my current Adult Ed class has, so chime in and let me know your thoughts!

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CAD Careers, General

Where will you take your job over the next five years?

For those of us who have been at the same job for over five years, we know how fast it can go by. Day by day there is always something that keeps us occupied and for the most part we are satisfied when payday comes. But if you take the time to look back at where you were five years ago and compare that to where you are today, are you still satisfied?

  • Did your job description, title or pay change in the direction you would have liked?
  • Did a co-worker get the promotion that you wished you got?
  • Over all of that time was there something you could have done to change the outcome?

Don’t let to much time go by before you take a honest look at what you have accomplished and decide if it was enough. If it wasn’t what you had hoped than maybe you need a plan. I had started with a simple plan going into college but after a few years of being out in the work force the extent of my plan went to payday. As my jobs became stagnant I would find a new one hoping that something would get better. Eventually I realized that it wasn’t always the job but me. I focused on finding some balance in my life and using goal setting to give some meaning to my day. At the end of this article I will give you a a list of books and resources that used to help figure out what needed to change.

Let me give a sequence of events that I was able to recognize and deal with because I understood what I should be doing.

  • After three years at my current job I had become the senior designer in the office and received a great deal responsibility.
  • I had completed a $1.7 mil project on my own and was looking forward to the next one.
    • Reality: Do to turn over I was the only person available to do the project.
    • Then instead of getting the next new project, I got two new co-workers. Both of them younger and with better degrees than mine. As the work load slowed, over 10 – 12 months, I became more of a draftsman on their jobs.
    • I grew frustrated and at times felt useless. I craved something more inspiring and challenging. With the old me that would have meant a job change.
    • Unexpectedly, a friend working at the local Community College called and asked if I was interested in teaching a CAD night class.
      • Opportunity: I was terrible at public speaking, but from a self improvement aspect, knew that I needed to work on it as a career tool. This was also an opportunity to fill a void created in my job.
      • Results: What started as a personal challenge, outside of my day job, became my biggest asset in my job. Teaching the CAD class required that I refine my twenty years of CAD experience and drop the bad habits . That refinement began to show up in my productivity at work. With students coming to me for guidance, I soon realize that I had a valuable skill, one that I lost sight of.
    • Along the way I began to appreciate my knowledge of construction detailing and gained confidence what I had to offer.
    • I had to be honest with myself. Many years ago I had decided not to become licensed. As far as this job was concerned I had to work with my strong points and stay focused.
    • Since, I have taken on projects like being a site supervisor in our construction management division. I saw this as a great experience all around. Though is was to benefit the company this time again, I was able to find ways that it fit my plan and keep it in prospective.
    • Five years later
      • I am still the senior production person.
      • I am viewed as the cad expert.
      • They others come to me for working out construction details.
      • My role is well defined (by me) and works in harmony with the rest of the office.

      Had I not taken the night class position would I have the same outcome? I doubt it.

    In any job you need to be in tune with your companies mission. But if you don’t keep your personal career goals in tune with your employer’s you will have to accept what they give you and be sure that it will benefit them.

    When you have no plan, someone will make one for you. A good employer will appreciate the fact that you are well defined as an individual and are willing to find the harmony in the relationship.

    My point here:

    • Take the time to do a self-assessment. Don’t wait for your employer’s performance review.
    • Be honest with yourself. Apply that tough love on yourself.
    • Build on your strengths. What are they? Where does your passion lay? Write your ideal job description.
    • Take responsibility! You agreed to do a job, eight hours a day for a set pay. Maintain your word with your employer and re-affirm your self respect.
    • Make the effort to blend your goals with your employer’s. If it isn’t working then maybe you have the basis for changing jobs.
    • Decide to take control of where you will be in five years.
    • Set challenging goals for yourself that make you smile to think about.
    • Don’t get over whelmed and keep moving. Create small daily or weekly task that will get you closer to your goal. I started by reading a book with a purpose.
    • Having a plan and working it build confidence. it wont take long for others to see it once you have it.
    • Challenges are dealt with so much easier when you have a plan.
    • If you don’t create your environment something else will. Making a choice not to do something is still a choice that you need to be responsible for.

    I was trained in college to create plans to build commercial buildings and contracts between owners and builders. At some point I felt silly not having a plan for my life, let alone my career.

    Why do you get out of bed in the morning?