Back to the Basics

4 Mar, 2008 By: Scott MacKenzie

Dealing with unexpected job changes reminds managers to stay up to date with the programs used throughout their departments.

Last month, the firm I worked with had a "reduction in force." Unfortunately, I was part of that reduction. Having never been laid off before, I found this to be quite a different experience. This was not an isolated incident; I know of other firms that have recently reduced their staff.

When things get tight in architectural and engineering firms, what gets cut first? Well that depends on the people making the decisions, because every company is different. The first idea is usually based on who has the least chargeable time. And when that is the case, the CAD manager can be in trouble. But lately, in many companies the CAD manager is becoming the BIM manager, and as the industry moves further into BIM, the BIM manager position is becoming more valued.

There are plenty of good guides out there designed to help job seekers land the right job, and they are helpful. I can't pretend to know what the best tips are for the AEC industry anymore. But I think the most important issue for a CAD manager is to know exactly what his or her role will be. The CAD manager position is defined differently in every office. You can take on a new CAD manager position and find out that the company's idea of what your role is (or should be) is very different from yours. I have found that many firms are looking for experienced BIM managers.

I would like to talk about what it takes to justify hiring or keeping a CAD/BIM manager, such as a certain number of design staff, but that would be speculation on my part. Even after my 20 years in the AEC business, I don't think there is a foolproof recipe for that.

My current path has taken me to a smaller office that needed someone to take the BIM lead. It is my job to set up a new project and teach the staff. The whole CAD staff is using a BIM package for the first time. This experience has taught me how much I don't know about the basic drawing tools in the program.

My BIM manager duties with the previous company were geared toward setting up projects and troubleshooting advanced problems. Since I have been working as a troubleshooter for advanced issues, I have lost touch with how to actually draw and model effectively. Sure I can figure out why a BIM model is running slow or crashing, but teaching a whole project team to use BIM for the first time has taught me what I did not know. Luckily I am pretty good at this stuff, so I am learning quickly.

If you feel as though you are losing touch with the basics, you might want to consider getting back into the program and doing some drawing, just to stay in practice.

Productivity Tip: Batch Processing PDF Files with Adobe Acrobat
I recently discovered a surprising shortcut. If you have Acrobat Professional v8 or Acrobat 3D v8, you can batch-process PDF files. You create a batch sequence based on existing Acrobat commands. This ability is quite useful for rotating PDF drawings that have been converted from PLT files, because they tend to be rotated for plotter rolls. (I use View Companion to batch convert PLT files into PDF.)

Here is how to create a batch sequence to rotate multiple PDF files by 90 degrees.

Create the Batch
Advanced / Document Processing / Batch Processing
New Sequence, Name it Rotate 90

  1. Select sequence of commands
    • Select Rotate Pages (under the Page folder)
    • Add>>
    • Edit button; set the rotation to 90
    • OK
  2. Run commands on
    • Ask When Sequence is Run
  3. Select output location
    • Ask When Sequence is Run
  4. OK
Run the Batch
  1. Advanced / Document Processing / Batch Processing
  2. Select Rotate 90 from the list
  3. Run sequence
  4. OK
  5. Select PDF files
  6. Click the Select button
  7. Select folder for output files
  8. All files will be processed
  9. Close
The latest update for Adobe Acrobat 3D is available on the Adobe Web site.

CODiE Awards
Congratulations to Autodesk. The Autodesk Student Engineering & Design Community is nominated for the Best Postsecondary Instructional Solution award. And the Autodesk Animation Academy 2008 has been nominated for Best Education Technology Solution for Productivity/Creativity.

Congratulations also to Graphisoft, whose ArchiCAD v11 BIM Experience Kit is a finalist for the 2008 CODiE award for Best Workforce Training Solution.

The CODiE Awards, which provide companies the opportunity to praise their competitors, are presented by The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA). According to the SIIA Web site "The CODiE Awards program, now in its 21st year, remains the standard bearer for celebrating outstanding achievement and vision in our industry."

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