AEC Tech News (#222)

5 Mar, 2008

Back to the Basicsp>

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

By Scott MacKenzie

Scott MacKenzie photo

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. Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Scott MacKenzie has 18 years' experience drawing in and managing CAD projects for engineering and architectural firms in the Atlanta area. He can be reached at

     Cadalyst Labs Review:

AutoCAD Civil 3D 2008

By Jerry Laiserin

Civil engineering is and always has been a three-dimensional process; 3D in design, 3D in visualization, and, of course, 3D in the actual construction of civil works on, over, and/or under real-world 3D terrain. Although several generations of modern engineers have mastered a system of 2D representation of 3D designs, the underlying work remains three dimensional.

If Roman engineers could have magically encountered a twentieth-century system of 2D representation, they likely would have been familiar with many of the principles and methods — especially the tedious and error-prone process of revising dozens or hundreds of drawings every time a profile or alignment had to be changed and edited along an entire aqueduct corridor. However, in the twenty-first century, civil engineers no longer need be burdened with the tedious processes of 2D design tools for 2D representation of 3D work. Modern software can manage consistent and coordinated 3D representations in computer form while presenting a 2D interface to design engineers via screen-based graphical input and output, as well as printed/plotted paper drawings (or their digital file equivalents) for project communication across the extended team from the office to the job site. Read more »


Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events

Using the Functionality of AutoCAD MEP
March 11, 2008
King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
At this Synergis lecture-style event, Autodesk trainer Jim Law will show why users should make the move from AutoCAD to AutoCAD MEP. Using "intelligent" objects, users assemble systems in their drawings exactly as they would be installed during construction. Read more »

Webcast: Staying Billable for CAD Managers
March 17, 2008
1:30 p.m. ET
CAD managers always have too many things going on, many of which are not project-billable, yet CAD managers are still called upon to be billable. What to do? In this Webcast, sponsored by Synergis, Cadalyst contributing editor Robert Green will present some ideas to help break the logjam. Read more »

Webinar: Communication 2.0: Choice, Clarity, and Civility
April 29, 2008
2:00 p.m. ET
This session kicks off a new series of 90-minute educational Webinars on leadership training, business etiquette, and networking presented by The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI). The interactive telephone/Internet sessions will connect participants with an expert instructor, access to materials, and the opportunity to ask questions in real time. Read more »

2008 ESRI Survey & Engineering GIS Summit
August 2-5, 2008
San Diego, California
See how GIS software integrates with surveying and engineering tools to provide more complete business solutions and field processes. User presentations, access to ESRI experts, and a wide range of session topics are geared to meet the needs of all attendees, regardless of GIS experience. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on