CAD Manager's Newsletter (#307)

10 Sep, 2013 By: Robert Green

Build Better Lessons for Your Users

Whether you're recording videos or delivering live training sessions, the planning stage is the most important.

In the past two issues of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I showed you how to create your own training videos using Camtasia recording software. Of course, technical know-how isn't enough — you'll only be able to create great videos if you start with a good lesson plan. For that matter, carefully planning your lessons is always the foundation for delivering great training presentations, whether you record them or not.

So in this issue, we'll focus on tips and tricks for building great lessons; these will be helpful regardless of which format you use to deliver them. Here goes.

Promote Your Topics Positively

The first part of building a great lesson is to pick a topic people want to learn about and promote it properly. For example, let's look at a common topic, CAD standards, and see how to correctly position the lesson to get maximum attention from potential attendees.

First, start with a clear, concise title that focuses on how the course will benefit the trainees, such as, "Get Your Job Done Faster with Standards." Avoid using a negative tone — nobody wants to attend a session called "The Drudgery of CAD Standards Explained"! Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox

Support Your Purchase Requests with a Quick and Dirty ROI Calculation

One thing I've learned as a CAD manager is that if I am going to buy anything, I must make a strong economic argument for it. If I don't, my senior management team will never approve funding. Whether it is software, workstations, training, or just a better chair, you must make a reasoned business case — you can't simply say "I want a new computer" and expect it to show up.

The gold standard for economically justifying a purchase is a return on investment (ROI) analysis, but those can quickly become time-consuming and complex as multiyear scenarios, tax implications, and liabilities are considered. Instead I've started calculating a "quick and dirty" ROI to convert lost time into money to make my point. Let's see this concept firsthand by going through an example.

Sample Scenario

Several times each day, a research engineer has to run analytical processes that are very compute-intensive. She has a three-year-old dual-core machine with 8 GB of RAM that locks up or crashes several times per day and, when it is operational, runs slowly. The engineer estimates 30 minutes per day is lost to computer lockups. She is paid $85,000 per year, but nobody in IT or management will buy a faster workstation to solve the problem because the workstation "costs too much." Read more »

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

:: Resources

Foundry Publishes MODO 701 Tutorial Videos
The Foundry, a developer of visual effects software, has published a set of videos that explain elements of the design ideation process with Luxology MODO 701 3D modeling, painting, and rendering software. Available in the Foundry's YouTube channel, the videos address Basic Modeling Tools, Sculpting, Applying Decals, and Exporting.

Plastics U Offers Free Online Moldex3D Courses
Plastics U, a worldwide learning platform that provides plastics processing knowledge and tips, is now offering free Moldex3D courses and tutorials to registered users. These online courses provide an overview of the software concepts, applications, and features for part designers, mold designers, and CAE specialists in the plastics industry.

:: Events

3D Scanning for CAD
September 26, 2013
11 a.m. PT
This NextEngine webinar will demonstrate how to create usable models for CAD programs such as SolidWorks, Creo, and Inventor by scanning and converting mesh scan data into editable CAD solids using RapidWorks software. This workflow is applicable in reverse engineering and manufacturing applications. Read more »

Design Excellence Forum: SolidWorks 2014
October 2–30, 2013
Various cities
Fisher/Unitech is hosting a series of complimentary events throughout New England and the Midwest that will cover solutions for product development and manufacturing. Read more »

AVEVA World Summit 2013
October 30–November 1, 2013
Boston, Massachusetts
Serving both the plant and marine industries, the AVEVA World Summit will feature a mix of speakers that include customers presenting real-world case studies, AVEVA senior management, and industry partners. 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

Array Objects Along a Path Curve in AutoCAD
If you're still using the Divide or Measure commands to array objects along a path curve, then you're working much too hard! Join Lynn Allen as she shows you how easy it is to use the path array tools inside AutoCAD. Watch the video »

Canon Keeps CAD in Mind with New Wide-Format Color Printers
Paperless documents may be decreasing the demand for printing hardware, but the diversified digital imaging solutions provider is still pursuing the CAD market. Read more »

Lenovo Launches Workstation Tailored for AutoCAD LT
The compact, entry-level ThinkStation E32 is designed for 2D CAD users facing space and budget restrictions. Read more »

VISI Speeds Stamping Tool Production
Kleiner Stanztechnik streamlines its manufacturing process with the adoption of Vero Software's 3D CAD/CAM solution. Read more »

IMAGINiT Tricks Tutorial:
Import Mechanical Desktop Drawings Directly into Inventor 2014

Try this new method to import your Autodesk Mechanical Desktop part files into an Autodesk Inventor assembly model. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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