Leafing through the Situations Vacant in the architectural press recently, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the number of employers stating that Auto CAD skills were to be an 'essential' or 'desirable' attribute of the successful applicant.
My surprise was not because Auto- CAD skills are a bad thing to have; au contraire - for two good reasons.
First is that the more senior members of the architectural profession have been one of the last group sectors still resisting the tide of change in favour of computer-aided design, with Canute-like determination. The basis of this reasoning is the opinion that computers remove the creativity, artistry and individuality from the drawing process, and that they are slower,to boot.
I have to agree that the finer subtleties of pen-craft are, sadly, lacking from most CAD drawings.
However, this particular argument leaves the good Caddie a little shortchanged in the skills appreciation department.
The comforting tangibility of grasping a pencil between your fingers and making marks on a piece of paper is not, (in my opinion, you understand), justification enough for anyone to disqualify themselves from participating in the world-wide data exchange mechanism that many in the profession now enjoy. A paper drawing, no matter how well or quickly drawn, cannot be emailed unless it is scanned first.
After all, the drawing process is a means to an end, not the end itself.
A decent CAD model, as we all should know by now, will allow its creator to produce volume calculations, perspective views, shadow studies and animated fly-throughs etc, something that a paper drawing never could.
The second reason for my surprise is that although the apparent embrace of CAD in the architectural profession appears to be alive and well, the Situations Vacant mention no form of skills evidence or proper training. I am sure that any practice recruiting an architectural or CAD technician requires the assurance that their investment in CAD is going to be properly utilised. I have witnessed, so many times, the wellintentioned but misplaced pride in the statement 'All my Auto CAD users are self-taught.' I can only say that I was guilty of this misguided arrogance once. Talented CAD users are hard to come by. Talented, properly trained CAD users are like hens' teeth.
Once the need for proper evaluation and training has been recognised, a suitable supplier must be found. The majority of people are unaware that anyone can establish a CAD training centre, with no prior expertise, no support network and no recognition by any authorised body. The quality of training and information dispensed by such unauthorised sources is dubious, to say the least.
Colleges and universities include some form of CAD training either part-time or as part of a professional qualification. However, this can prove to be a lengthy route to gaining CAD expertise, and there is no assurance that the techniques imparted to eager learners are consistent with recent industry developments, use the latest technology, or are based on real-life workplace xperiences.
Autodesk, the maker of Auto- CAD , has a network of superb Autodesk Training Centres across the country, staffed by professional, Auto CAD instructors with proven ability and lengthy industry experience. To maintain this status, instructors must keep pace with the latest products, and each centre must be equipped to a high specification. Courses are based on courseware published by Autodesk, and Autodesk certificates are issued on successful completion. Many of the training centres offer skills assessment and productivity analysis before they make training recommendations.
The network of Autodesk Training Centres is the only source of professional Auto CAD instruction that can be relied upon to deliver consistent, quality training in whichever Autodesk product your practice may be using or considering. To realise the potential of your Auto CAD investment fully, the emphasis must be on education.
It is equally important for users of other packages that training is carried out byqualified instructors approved by the software vendor. If in doubt, contact the company and find out about training in your area.
Anita Nice is the training manager at EDL Autodesk Training Centre.
Contact EDL on tel 0137 651 8840.