CAD Manager's Newsletter (#252)

8 Dec, 2010 By: Robert Green

:: Observations from Autodesk University 2010

Conference attendance improved this year — as did the mood — but CAD managers reported that many companies are still struggling.

Last week I was in Las Vegas at Autodesk University (AU), where I taught CAD management and programming classes, co-hosted the Design Technology Manager's Summit, and networked with other CAD managers. As is usually the case, I learned a great deal by talking with other CAD managers while roaming the halls and the show floor.

Rather than write a broad-spectrum show report, I'd like to pass along the information that I think will be specifically useful for CAD managers. Here goes.

The Crowd and the Mood

AU attendance is still down from where it was prior to the recession, but was clearly up from 2009. The information I received was about 7,000 total attendees, up from last year's approximately 6,000. Higher attendance correlates with a sunnier economic mood, since companies send more employees to attend AU when business is better.

The atmosphere at the conference this year was one of cautious optimism, in stark contrast to last year's gloom and doom. I heard a lot of comments like "We think things are getting better — but we'll have to see if our workload really does increase," from attendees and vendors alike. The exhibit hall was well attended; the vendors I met with said they were talking to "serious shoppers" who were trying to position their firms to implement new technologies (with a clear allusion to more BIM [building information modeling] adoption).

Audience Polling

I've always conducted informal polling of CAD managers at AU, in an effort to gauge the economic stability of the companies we all work in. I asked for a show of hands in response to the following questions:

  • How many of you work in companies that have too much work to do?
  • How many of you work in companies with good or normal workloads?
  • How many of you work in companies that are laying off?

Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox: Peer-Driven User Training

Your deputy trainers can help shoulder the responsibility of training, and provide your users with a fresh perspective.

Many CAD managers are responsible for running training programs in their company, yet they don't have enough time to create the materials required to conduct training. If that's true for you, why not rely on your power users to conduct peer-driven training that encourages efficiency and best practices?

Here are some tips to get your peer-driven training going:

Select deputy trainers carefully. Your deputy trainers could be power users, engineers, architects, or even someone from your CAD reseller. The important qualifications are that this person must have knowledge worth sharing and be able to communicate that information well. Remember, nothing is worse than training conducted by someone who can't teach!

Stress production. Deputy trainers should pass along tips that reduce clicks, picks, and wasted time. The goal is for expert users who've found a better way to accomplish real-world tasks to share their knowledge — not to introduce totally new features that will confuse users. Read more »


Do you have a question or tip for the CAD Manager's Newsletter? Send it to me at; if I use it in the newsletter you'll receive a cool Cadalyst prize!

:: Opportunities

Share Your AutoCAD Story
Are you using a recent version of AutoCAD to support your 3D MCAD workflow? An exclusive newsletter series from Cadalyst, coming in early 2011, will highlight the benefits of using AutoCAD in combination with Inventor, SolidWorks, Pro/ENGINEER, CATIA, or other 3D mechanical CAD solutions. If this describes your design process, we'd like to share your story! All we ask is that the relevant contacts be available for an interview. Send a brief description to the editors and we'll follow up soon.

Survey Seeks Feedback about Sustainable Product Design
There are lots of questions around sustainable design: Is it difficult to design sustainable products? What qualifies as a sustainable product? Is sustainability important in your organization — at the product level in particular? Independent research firm Four Winds Research is especially interested in the last question, and is conducting a short survey on the subject. Experts and newcomers to sustainability alike are invited to participate.

:: Resources

SolidWorks Site Encourages Designers to Share Their Stories
SolidWorks has launched a web site called "The Drive to Design" that revolves around a video showing some of the steps that led a fictional engineer to his vocation. Visitors are invited to share their own stories, download the files for one of the projects shown in the video and explain how they would make it better, or submit ideas for their own design dreams.

Partnership Gives CAMWorks Users Access to CADENA Model Library
Manufacturing software developer Geometric and part catalog provider CADENAS have entered into an agreement that grants the users of Geometric's CAMWorks software access to CADENA's CAD model library. CAMWorks users will be able to download millions of ready-to-use 3D CAD models from the CAMWorks PARTCommunity.

HP Launches Challenge-Based Online Community for AEC Industry
HP has launched a new online community for the AEC industry that enables designers to collaborate through a variety of design challenges. Organized by David Fano, founder of design technology consultancy CASE and an adjunct professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, the DesignByMany community encourages technical design professionals to improve the community as a whole through architectural design projects.

Spect0l Offers Bentley BIM Software Tutorial Videos
Lawrence Eaton invites Cadalyst newsletter readers to check out his Spect0l web site, which includes a collection of video tutorials for Bentley Architecture v8i building information modeling (BIM) software from Bentley Systems.

Research Report Explains Cloud Computing
Aruvian's R'search, a consulting and research organization, has released a guide to cloud computing. The Analyzing Cloud Computing research report explains the history of cloud computing; its architecture, application programming interfaces, and cost logic; and the advantages and disadvantages involved. Also addressed are the market for cloud computing, regulations impacting it, and delivery and deployment models.

Expert CAD Manager book by Robert Green

:: Events

Webinar: Texture Baking in 3ds Max
December 13, 2010
11 a.m. ET
This free webinar from the CGschool is led by Brian Smith and presents a one-hour overview of a course currently offered at the CGschool. Read more »

Webinar: Configuration — the Key to Optimizing CAD Translation
December 14, 2010
10 a.m. ET
During this webinar, Spatial's Vivekan Iyengar will discuss configuration settings to improve CAD translation success rates and optimize 3D InterOp performance. 3D InterOp provides CAD file translation for design reuse applications. Read more »

Siemens PLM Connection Americas User Conference 2011
May 2–5, 2011
Las Vegas, Nevada
This annual event, organized by PLM World with support from Siemens, is designed to help attendees prepare their PLM investment for the future and learn from Siemens PLM Software's developers in hands-on training sessions. 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

Revit Tutorial: Making the Switch — AutoCAD to Revit
Before transitioning to Autodesk Revit, building design firms need to understand why, when, and how. Read more »

User Profile: Designing to His Own Beat
Rock musician Dale Meiners found a second creative outlet — producing one-of-a-kind millwork designs for discerning clients. Read more »

Cadalyst Labs Report: CAD to Go
The newest mobile workstation technology meets the processing, graphics, and memory demands of AEC, manufacturing, and GIS users. Read more »


About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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