CAD Manager's Q&A: Getting ahead of the Curve

9 Aug, 2006 By: Robert Green

I already know AutoCAD (or MicroStation or another program of your choice), but I want to get up to speed with some of the high-powered 3D programs that are on the market. What's the best way for me to do so?

Robert Green replies: This is a good question and one I am receiving more and more as 3D programs become more popular and more common. I think there are actually several answers that I can give you. Let me list them here:

Use what you already know. First, realize that all CAD programs have common components. So start with a positive attitude and realize that once you know one CAD program, you can almost certainly learn another.

Learn fast. Rather than stretching out your learning curve, be aggressive and find ways to learn things quickly. Some suggestions are to take a two-day beginner's course in the new program or perhaps a four- to six-evening course over a few weeks. The point is, try to learn a lot of the material quickly and then put it to use before you forget it.

Do a pilot project. As you learn the new program, make sure that you actually use it in the context of a project you've completed before. You've always been told not to reinvent the wheel, but in this case that's exactly what you're trying to do. By working your way through a project that you already understand, you’ll focus on learning the new software and know whether your outcome is correct or not.

Find a collaborator. This could be someone in your company or a user group or even somebody in an online forum. Find a way to put yourself in groups of other people who are learning the same things you are. There’s simply no substitute for the cross-pollination of ideas that will occur when you collaborate with others who are also in learning mode.

Immerse yourself. If possible, start doing real project work with your new software as soon as you can. Putting yourself under real-time job pressure will help you become proficient with any new software program.

These are the factors that I have seen work for many, many people I've trained over the years. Incidentally, it doesn't matter whether it's 2D, 3D, architectural or mechanical, the metrics seem to be the same no matter what. Good luck.

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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