CAD Manager's Newsletter (#383)

9 May, 2017 By: Robert Green

Make a Reading Plan to Stay on Top of CAD Technology

With technologies and workflows changing so quickly, the amount of information you need to keep up with may seem overwhelming — but it doesn't have to be.

The past few years have proven to be turbulent times for CAD managers. With all the cloud hype, the rise of rental software, changing licensing terms, and endless software updates, CAD managers have had to rethink how they procure, run, and manage software. All this begs the question: How is it possible to keep up with these constant changes? In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, we'll explore a few strategies to stay informed and be in the know — without spending all day doing so. Here goes.

More Info, More Often

If you want to keep up with the constant evolution of the CAD landscape, you're going to need to read — a lot. Every month, I wade through a huge amount of press releases, blog posts, tweets, articles, and reviews for all manner of software, hardware, and training resources.

There's a lot to read out there, and to be honest, not all of it is worth reading. The trick is to find the resources that answer your specific questions and speak to your company's needs, while bypassing those that don't.

The most effective CAD managers I know read as much as they can from a wide range of sources so they are immersed in a variety of news, opinions, and technical content. Further, they make reading a routine part of their regular schedule — daily, weekly, and monthly — so they are always current. Here is my personal reading strategy for your consideration:

Scan social media sites daily. I sign up for notifications from CAD-centric LinkedIn groups and Facebook groups, and I follow vendors via Twitter. If something big is happening that impacts the CAD world, you're likely to see it in these locations first. I try not to dwell on social media activities, but I do find a daily check-in to be helpful. Tip: Check social media feeds in the morning, so you'll be aware of any breaking news from other time zones.

Read a truly good business paper/blog daily. I read the Wall Street Journal, but you can substitute any good daily business paper or blog that is relevant for your country. The reason I recommend this is that all of us only have a job because the business we work for has projects to complete. The better you understand the business environment you operate in, the more you'll understand market ups and downs that could impact your career. Tip: Read the business paper on your lunch break to give your mind a midday break from CAD and project issues.

Browse a good IT resource weekly. As CAD managers, we need to be aware of advances in hardware, networks, operating systems, and mobile devices so we can plan. The best place to read about these types of topics is in an IT-focused magazine or blog. Tip: I've read InfoWorld for years and have found it to be a fantastic resource for all sorts of IT topics.

Catch up with blogs and vendor sites weekly. These are the trusted authors, vendors, e-mail newsletters, and blogs that I find most valuable. Create a reading list or dedicated e-mail folder for these items, and read through them once a week so you can really focus on your reading. Tip: I complete my weekly reading list on Friday afternoons as a reward for making it through the week — and to energize my mind for the week ahead. Read more »

Tools and Resources

EMA Design Automation Launches Online Model Library
EMA Design Automation, a provider of electronic design automation solutions, has created a website for Ultra Librarian, giving electronics designers online access to pre-authored and verified parts, and the ability to download symbols, footprints, and 3D models. The new site allows users to search through more than 40 million components to compare pricing, availability, and technical information.

Tech-Clarity Guide Provides 3D CAD Implementation Advice
Users who register with Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks can download a free guide by Tech-Clarity titled, "The How-to Guide to Adopting a New 3D CAD." The ebook addresses topics including how to get started on a migration path, how to prepare users for the change, and what to do with legacy design data.

ASCENT Publishes Updated Autodesk Training Guides
ASCENT – Center for Technical Knowledge has released 21 updated training guides for Autodesk 2018 software. The newly released titles are available in both print and ebook formats through ASCENT's online store. and in print at ASCENT is the courseware division of Rand Worldwide.

What's New at

AutoCAD Video Tips: Take Control of Your Automatic Saves in AutoCAD
Let's face it: We need our AutoCAD automatic saves. But are we controlling them, or are they controlling us? In this video from Cadalyst and Lynn Allen, you'll see how to get the most out of your automatic saves — and how to use your .SV$ files, should you ever need to! Watch the video »

Bricsys Seeks to Take DWG Community 'Beyond AutoCAD'
Belgium-based developer expands the scope of BricsCAD with support for building information modeling (BIM), sheet metal design, and Intergraph's plant design package. Read more »

Wohlers Report Finds Slower Overall Growth, More Competition in 3D Printing Space
Industry watcher counted ninety-seven manufacturers producing and selling additive manufacturing systems in 2016, making established providers sweat a bit. Read more »

Sponsored: A Design Tour of the HP Z2 Mini, Part 2
The project's lead mechanical engineer discusses the achievements — and the challenges — of designing the world's smallest workstation. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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