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?

    CAD, CAD Careers, CAD Training, General

    Still Training

    Welcome back,

    Since I last wrote, I have closed out another semester of teaching CAD at the adult ed program in town. The main course that I teach is a beginner’s introduction to Autocad and drafting. I say the main one because I took on another course introducing Google’s Sketch Up but I will get to that next time.

    This past semester I threw out all of my notes. Not in a fit rage or anything, I needed to refocus and rewrite them thinking of ways to use what I have learned in the class room and on the web. Having an online business has been a goal of mine for awhile and it didn’t take long teaching to see that I found a great opportunity to get paid while I built a product to sell on the web. I have much to learn about the internet environment, but I have a start.

    My first thought was to create the material in a format that my students could use while away from the class room all week and still be translated easily into web-based material. I started by getting every class outlined with the study material well formatted and organized in a word document (and ready for Power Point).

    I am pulling away from the text book and creating my own material that I teach. For now I feel that it will be a good investment to author my own material, especially since much of it has been done already as I refined my CAD class. I would not have made this a priority had I not been so far into it already. I am trying to remember Michael Masterman’s phrase “Ready, Fire, Aim”. I still feel that the textbook we used is very good, however, could be more of a companion text.

    By the way, thanks for your patience, I am using the “Ready, Aim, Fire” concept in blogging also. Hopefully the passion that I have for what am writing about comes through and holds your attention!

    I’m evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they’re letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.It covers:

    • The best blogging techniques.
    • How to get traffic to your blog.
    • How to turn your blog into money.

    I’ll let you know what I think once I’ve had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it’s still free.

    A new semester is starting in a couple of weeks and I have some work to do but I plan to roll out the new material to the class and get their input. What a great opportunity!  My goal this semester is to break into the internet and establish a site where I can publish the material for my students and add some additional resources for them.

    We may have a few expanded topics here soon. I could really get away from CAD and just talk about training, blogging, entrepreneurial spirit, and lets not forget staying organized and balanced!