AEC Tech News (#306)

6 Oct, 2011 By: Cadalyst Staff

User Profile: Slaying the Dragon

After years spent thinking that AutoLISP programming was a dark art, Adam Sherratt takes it on — and wins.

By Nancy Spurling Johnson

Adam Sherratt is a senior draftsman on the civils team at engineering consultancy Arup in Brisbane, Australia. In his 15 years as an AutoCAD user, he'd been curious about AutoLISP programming but always believed it was too complicated to attempt. Then this past summer he viewed a video on in which Autodesk's Lynn Allen explained the basics of AutoLISP. He was surprised by how easy it looked, decided to give it a try — and got hooked.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I made the move from the United Kingdom to Australia in 2007 after attending a jobs expo in London and having a series of telephone interviews with a few of Arup's senior staff members here in Brisbane. They agreed to sponsor me to live and work over here. Australian infrastructure projects have continued to power on despite [the poor economy worldwide]. Fingers crossed it stays that way for the foreseeable future, as I have no plans to return to the U.K. just yet. I love it here in Oz — the lifestyle, the landscape, the sunshine, and the people make it a winning combination!

Adam Sherratt recently began using AutoLISP in his work as a senior draftsman.
Adam Sherratt recently began using AutoLISP in his work as a senior draftsman.

What comes across your desk in a typical day?

My day-to-day job mainly involves receiving markups from project engineers and drafting up 2D plans for all aspects of highway design, be it alignments, drainage, signage, electrical, geo-tech, whatever. Mostly I just use standalone AutoCAD, but with various customizations to suit our clients' differing standards. We're currently migrating from AutoCAD 2008 to 2011. Occasionally I use AutoCAD Map 3D to undertake coordinate transformations. I also help mentor junior CAD team members.

What do you enjoy most about your job? What would you like to change?

I work with a great team of (mostly!) like-minded individuals who take a pride in the quality of their work. The company also holds several social events throughout the year, so as a result I know many of my colleagues socially as well as professionally, which makes for a friendly working environment.

Regarding what I'd like to change: Currently all of our 3D corridor modeling is done on MX and 12D, which then has to be exported to DWG format for drafting up properly in AutoCAD. I would like to see a shift away from this and AutoCAD Civil 3D implemented so all plans, sections, etc. are reflective of the model as it exists in real time. Unfortunately, the powers that be don't seem too keen to break away from the status quo, so I can't see this happening anytime soon.

Plus I'd like to get out on site once in a while. Too much sitting in front of a computer monitor can send one a little stir-crazy at times! Read more »

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Nancy Johnson is editor-in-chief of Cadalyst.


How to Hire a Great BIM Manager

The best leaders have several traits in common — and a few of them might surprise you.

By Heather Livingston

Reaching the end of the Great Recession with your general contracting firm still in the black must feel pretty good. During the past few years, the AEC industry has seen considerable consolidation and contraction, but it's finally ready to start down the slow path to expansion. An excellent place to begin is by creating the position of BIM manager.

The AEC profession has been watching its building information modeling (BIM) workload increase — even during the recession — and as clients are returning, they're regularly asking for 3D modeling, 4D scheduling, 5D estimating, and other BIM functionalities. Getting your staffing infrastructure in place while your workload is still recovering to prerecession levels can help ensure that you stay competitive in the marketplace and even improve your bottom line.

But you may be wondering, what exactly does a BIM manager do? What do you need to look for in a candidate? And what should a BIM manager do to support your business? To answer these questions, I spoke with two respected BIM experts. Jan Reinhardt is cofounder and principal of ADEPT Project Delivery, a BIM consulting business. Before founding ADEPT, Reinhardt was program manager for virtual design and construction at Turner Construction. Jennifer Lanzetti, LEED AP, is the BIM coordinator for Jacobsen Construction, leading the firm's BIM implementation and training effort for the past two years.

Beyond dealing with digital files and managing drawings, Reinhardt and Lanzetti said a BIM manager must define what content goes into models and institute company-wide and, ultimately, industry-wide process changes. The latter duty is a revolution akin to when 2D CAD was introduced into daily AEC operations. Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Heather Livingston is a Wichita, Kansas–based freelance writer specializing in design, sustainability, and architectural technology.

Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events


Renovation and Refurbishment
October 11, 2011
9 a.m. PT
This webinar, hosted by GRAPHISOFT, will explain how ArchiCAD v15 can improve native BIM design and documentation workflow for renovation and refurbishment projects. Read more »

Implementing BIM into the Practice of Architecture
October 13, 2011
San Francisco, California
In this program, hosted by ARCHVISTA, attendees will review the benefits of using BIM within the practice of architecture, including new tools in ArchiCAD 15. Read more »

AIA Georgia 2011 Annual Conference
October 13–16, 2011
Athens, Georgia
This year's AIA (American Institute of Architects) Georgia conference theme focuses on the architect as leader, and what he or she can do to make this world a better place. "One Architect, One Future" embraces the idea that architects continue to be instrumental in shaping our cities and influencing the decisions that mold our communities. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


What’s New at


CADspeed Blog Post:
Remote Graphics and the Professional CAD Workstation, Part 3

We're talking about remote graphics in this series. We've outlined the potential benefits for CAD users and the reduced hardware costs, and now we're going talk about the benefits for the heavy-duty 3D users. Read more »

CAD Manager's Survey 2011 Goes Live
The annual survey is back — and it needs your input to succeed! Read more »

AUGI Salary Survey Results
CAD Manager's Toolbox: Curious about CAD paychecks? Check out these figures from Autodesk User Group International. Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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