Celebrating 400 Issues of the CAD Manager's Newsletter: An Interview with Robert Green27 Feb, 2018 By: Robert Green
CAD Manager Column: Marking a major editorial milestone, Cadalyst editors interview the author for a behind-the-scenes look at the newsletter and how CAD management has evolved over the decades.
What are the most common mistakes you see in CAD management?
The most common mistake I see is the CAD manager not getting involved enough in planning for future technology like hardware, networking, and the new generation of design tools being adopted. When I hear a CAD manager complain about not having the right hardware or software or an adequate budget, my first question is always, “Did you tell your management what you needed?” Most senior management staffs know much less about CAD than the CAD manager does, so it behooves us to get involved in the planning.
The other main mistake I see is that CAD managers aren’t talking to senior management in senior management’s native language, which is all about money and authority. If you approach senior management with a solid plan that demonstrates how it will generate profits for the company, you’ll get much better results than by talking bits, bytes, and bandwidth. If you want the authority to enforce standards and procedures, show senior management how giving it to you will reduce errors and expenses, and they’ll be much more likely to empower you.
Is there anything that isn’t getting enough attention from CAD managers?
IT and security — particularly with respect to mobile devices. It used to be we just worried about getting the files created correctly, but now we have to worry about where those files end up and how loss of file control could hurt the business.
Is there anything about the current CAD environment that surprises you?
Yes — in fact, two things come to mind that baffle me.
The first is what I would call an overreaction to BIM [building information modeling], as if it’s a totally new concept. BIM is simply the process of organizing data around 3D models and figuring out how that will change the way we build something. It’s no different than the disruptive transition from 2D to 3D mechanical design and automated manufacturing I experienced in the late 1980s as a mechanical engineer.
The second is the over-the-top hype regarding cloud technology, as if we’ve never been down that road before. If I think back 30 years, I was working on 3D models that we would then upload — overnight, via 2400-baud data modems — to a VAX data center across the country for analysis on its much more powerful computing cluster, and then download the results. That is, we created our content and sent it somewhere else for processing — sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Today computers are more powerful, storage drives are larger, networks are faster, and security is a big concern to be sure, but the core idea behind cloud computing — sharing resources — hasn’t really changed.
Which technology caught your attention most in your early CAD management days, and which is your favorite lately?
What struck me about CAD initially was how much more efficient it was to edit designs and move data electronically as contrasted with paper-based methods.
Today, I find that I’m fascinated by how artificial intelligence will change not just CAD/BIM, but the fabric of our society — so I’m trying to learn all I can about the topic.
Robert Green, doing the other thing he loves best: Performing live in a rock band.
What is something about you that might surprise your readers?
Well, even though so much of my job is about computing, in my off time I try to get away from computers as much as I can, and I’ve got no interest in gaming at all. Instead, I focus on music: I’m a semi-professional rock guitarist, and I enjoy playing in live bands.
What does the future hold for CAD management — and for you?
CAD management will continue to morph and evolve just as the tools we utilize do. It’ll always be a job that requires rapid change, self-motivation, a strong work ethic, and an ethos of doing things better every day.
As for my future, well, CAD/BIM and design technology still fascinates me, so I’ll continue to consult with my clients, learn everything I can, and share my experiences here at Cadalyst. It may sound hokey, but I love what I do and simply hope to keep doing it.