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RE: Engineering Education Reply to Bill P.

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>From what I hear and have seen, most good cad drafters wised up and got
into IT where they could make a living with their computer skills...

I guess I got lucky. When I graduated from college (1995), the economy
wasn't too hot and you needed a MS degree from Berkeley or Stanford or
SE license to get a job doing engineering (according to the job ads in
SEAONC newsletter). I had none of these to say the least...

So I decided to get my foot in the door by doing detailing. I had off
and on exposure to CAD in college doing senior projects and
surveying/sub-division planning projects. I had a couple of stints with
contractors doing steel detailing and within a year I became super fast
at CAD. Then I got hired at a structural firm with the promise of 6
months later, if I worked out, I'd be doing engineering. Well, it worked
out and I got my foot in the door. At the time, I thought this was a
shitty way to go about things, but in retrospect, this was the most
valuable thing I could have done. Working with steel detailers taught me
how important constructability was and clarity of drawings. In my first
6 months of drafting for an engineering firm, I gained the detailing
knowledge that seems so hard for many young engineers to grasp. Some are
great at numbers and can do a time history analysis of 10 story
building, but can't draw how to bolt a beam to a column. I understood
what I was drawing, so it made things easy for me. Soon, the engineers
would just give me forces and tell me to make the connections work. I
was laying out roof and floor framing plans from preliminary
architectural plans. When I transitioned to an engineer, I eliminated
the need for a drafter on my projects. I could do it faster myself
rather than hand sketch out something for someone else to copy into the
computer at a slow pace.

I cannot stress enough how beneficial this was to my career. Not only
did I become extremely fast at CAD (I would put my money up against
anyone that I could draw any detail faster than them and correct on the
first try... not to brag,,,), but I learned the constructability side of
engineering. I maintained my engineering skills during this time by
going to grad school part time at night. So when it was my turn to bat,
I hit a homer.

If times are slow and you can afford to work cheap (not that much
cheaper than most salaries straight out of school for engineers), I
would suggest any young engineer to do as I did. Within 6 months to a
year, you'll make yourself a desired "tool", someone who can operate a
cad station and actually understand what they are drawing. The speed
will come eventually.

Also, I use cad quite a bit to import geometry into 3-d models for
structural analysis. It's a great way to get those node locations
accurately with all these crazy shaped buildings the architects are
coming up with.

My Dos Pesos,

P.S. - If you use paperspace for anything other than a plan with a
matchline or 3d drawing, please see the light and learn to XREF. Don't
draw text and leaders in paperspace !!! Also, don't use digitizers, pull
down menus, or icons - use the keyboard young skywalker.

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