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Re: Schooling (was Connections)

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Since the species "structuralus draftersaurus" has
been extinct for approximately twenty years (I do
occasionally hear rumors of sightings), I decided to
learn AutoCAD myself and whenever possible I do my own
drafting. CAD operators are useful for setting up
drawings, get the plan xrefs in order, downloading and
uploading drawings on to project ftp sites and a host
of other mundane repetitive tasks, but I?m of the
school of thought that structural engineers should be
proficient in structural drafting as well as being
well versed in the use of AutoCAD. 

I also enjoy doing my own structural drafting ? I find
structural drafting relaxing and fun (ok, so I?m a
little weird).  The details go right from my brain
onto the drawing and they are drawn correct the first
time.  Engineers who think it's a foolish and
inefficient waste of time for them to do their own
drafting are probably correct ? but they shouldn?t
make generalizations that all engineers are wasting
their time if they do their own drafting.  I?ve tried
it both ways.  Until about ten years ago I was ?locked
out? of the structural drawings on projects that I
designed. This was because I didn?t know how to use
AutoCAD. It was a frustrating and slow process for me
to get my ideas onto paper. Draw sketch, give to CAD,
wait for CAD to get around to drawing it, plot check
plot, backcheck drawing and bleed all over it, give
markup back to CAD, wait again for red marks to be
picked up, plot another check plot, red mark it again
(usually), give to CAD, and so on?.  What?s wrong with
this picture!  Since I was proficient at structural
drafting, I was pulling my hair out in frustration
because I couldn?t even get into my own drawings to
fix typos the last minute.  Project schedules these
days DO NOT allow for the inefficient methodology that
I just described. 

How many engineers remember the days when you hand
wrote all of your correspondence and then gave it to a
secretary to type up on a typewriter?  Those days are
GONE FOREVER. I think most engineers are now
proficient typists and type much of their own
correspondence. Secretaries still do some typing ? but
no where near as much as they did thirty years ago. 
The same I think will eventually be true about
engineers doing much of their own drafting.  This is
especially true due to the use of computers that free
up engineers from having a lot of time doing
repetitive manual calculations. We are now freed up to
focus more on the details!  Depending on the type of
building structure one is designing, I think
structural engineers should never spend more than 30%
of their design effort on calculations ? with the
remaining time being spent getting on producing the
details and getting the contract documents ?right?. 
In reality I think a lot of engineers spend 80% of
their time beating their designs to death and pay
scant attention to the details and the completeness of
their drawings. 

We will always have a need for CAD operators, but most
engineers will eventually (I think) play a much more
active role in actually producing structural drawings
in the future.
 
Cliff Schwinger

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