Random thoughts and helpful CAD links... - Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Help! - Part 4

...continued from my previous posts,
Help!, Help! - Part 2 & Help! - Part 3

Training, Training & More Training...

I, like some of you, was a self taught user... my boss at the time handed me the keys to a shiny new IBM-PC which had PC-DOS ?.?, AutoCAD 2.17g, a Houston Instrument's DMP-52 Plotter and a Digitizer (brand forgotten). Yes folks, we are talking CAD Geezer!

The manual(s) were all quite crude (being kind) and this is when I decided to obtain a 3rd Party book... which at that time there weren't many. Eventually books like "Inside AutoCAD" and publications like CADENCE and CADalyst (now one in the same), were available and like many of you old timers, we looked forward to each and every issue. Trying to learn the latest & greatest tip, trick or trap.

After doing this for many years, basically the "school of hard knocks", one finds themselves at a strange point... what else is there? Have I learned all there is to learn? Trust me, I was what I considered a very good user, but felt like I had come to a brick wall. This is when I approached the management with the idea of obtaining formal training. "What?" was the reaction, "Why do you think you need training?" was their response... "You could/should be teaching it!" was another manager's comment. I explained that, like most users, we are creatures of habit, what we continue to do is the same thing or employ the same methods and continue using (or misusing) the application without really knowing is there a better way OR continuously learning what not to do (the hard way)... About the only thing I looked forward to was the next release of AutoCAD (to see what new bells & whistles were offered)...

I finally convinced them to allow me to attend an
ATC (Autodesk Training Center) and take the 3 levels of training being offered. At first the management (always trying to save a buck) wanted me to start out on level 2 (advanced) and skip the Level 1 (basics) class... and this is when the salesperson (whom I remain friends with to this day) said, "I would recommend starting out from ground zero, as there are many things that most users feel they know. But how does one know what they do not know? until someone shows them?" he also said that if I could honestly say that at the end of the level 1 (basics) training, that I had not learned anything new that he would credit my company for the second level.... that is all I (and management) needed to hear and figured all I had to lose was time. So there the ball was set in motion...

Looking back, I am glad he had made that comment/offer. I did learn a lot. Actually picked up a few things I did not know and corrected a few things (bad habits) that I was doing wrong or should I say not in the most efficient manner. And to this day, I realize that many of the basics are still the base for a good user and after teaching, would not want someone skipping a level and then asking many "basic type" questions all throughout the next level. When all is said and done, some of the simplest things, methods, stratedgy are built upon a strong base knowledge.

I continued through the level 2 (advanced) and also learned things that I thought I knew (like Paperspace & XREFs) and was not totally wrong, but like many self-taughters needed another perspective to explain the other possibilities vs. the one or two ways I had learned myself. As with anything in AutoCAD, there are many ways to do something, what is the better, faster or smarter way is not always obvious.

Lastly, since my formal training life began using AutoCAD R13 Windows (yikes!... luckily it was C4 and finally stable) there was this new thing called 3D & Rendering... so I continued on through the level 3 training. Since my discipline (industrial electrical controls & automation) did not require 3D I had only tinkered... this is where I learned the most and actually begin to enjoy that "learning something new" feeling.

After it was all over I had obtained my 3 certificates of completion and Release 14 was right around the corner. My instructor (again whom I remain friends with to this day) noticed that I was a very good user, had many good questions and asked if I was interested in ever teaching... more on that later.

So enough about me... how does this effect you?

A few things that I can say are, one can never know it all... NEVER. One thing I have always found by attending or instructing, is the interaction of the students (many of whom I am still friends or in contact with), asking good questions, and seeing the solutions that are presented is just one reason why I enjoy teaching, I too learn lots of new things. How people are using the product, what they are designing, what methods or stratedgy they employ. This interaction is great, some people will ask questions (or pose problems thay are having) and this will be something useful to another who didn't think to ask it. Networking.

We all learn in different ways, (for me hands on is the best way). Here are some learning statistics on retention: if you Hear it 10%, See it 30%, Say it 50% or Do it 70% you figure out what works best for you.

I would highly recommend obtaining training through Autodesk's
ATC Channel.

ATC Locator:

I would highly recommend attending
Autodesk University:

I would highly recommend joining AUGI: they offer online training through their ATP and they are also running CAD Camps throughout the US (some very soon).

Find a LUG (Local Users Group) and network with other users in your area.

If an ATC is not close enough or their schedules aren't in agreement with yours, you might also try your local Authorized Reseller:

If you have other training solutions (resources, links, materials, etc.), please email me.

- Enjoy!


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