Explore the World of CAD Training Options30 Nov, 2015 By: Scottie Barnes
CAD and related software tools are more sophisticated and varied than ever — but fortunately, so are the resources available to help you master them.
Autodesk Authorized Training Centers
To maximize the benefit from Autodesk Inventor, the engineers and technicians at RWE Power in Germany turned to CIDEON Systems (www.cideon-systems.com), one of many Autodesk Authorized Training Centers (ATC) around the world that offer highly customized onsite training. To locate an ATC near you, visit www.autodesk.com/atc.
Ralf Munch, an engineer of machine technology and CAD administrator, explained, "We've made steel construction design our main focus, and we've achieved a significant improvement in productivity as a result of our training sessions." He said the sessions helped his team learn to produce complex designs more simply and in a uniform way, helped meet RWE Power's need for improved data quality, and enabled users to work more quickly within the program. Before each workshop, an ATC trainer consults Munch and his colleagues about which components to use as practical examples. The trainer then devises a session that incorporates original designs.
With ATCs, participants work with instructors in a classroom setting using sample projects and exercises that emphasize practical, real-world applications. Customers who do not need this level of custom, onsite training can choose a more general class nearby that is appropriate for their skill level and meets at a time that works for their schedule. Users can also validate their product knowledge by taking a certification exam at a participating testing facility to become Autodesk Certified. Professional associations accept many ATC courses, and students can earn credits for mandatory continuing education classes and other professional development programs. Prices vary based on the number of participants and the type of training or level of customization and class frequency.
Blended Online Training
For those who struggle to take time away from the office, IMAGINiT Technologies (www.imaginit.com), an Autodesk ATC, recently added a blended online training program to its more traditional offerings. This format pairs instructor-led online lab sessions with self-paced learning, video demonstrations, and collaborative learning in which students engage one another to ask and answer questions through a shared screen.
"We spent a lot of time internally discussing ways to train a little more than 225 employees with a broad range of skill sets to increase our efficiency and productivity," explained Justin Tallmon, corporate CAD manager at Olsson Associates, an employee-owned firm emphasizing civil engineering. "With the blended learning format, users go at their own pace, but they typically spend about four hours on the program each day over a four-day period. This allows them the flexibility to keep projects moving forward and not impact ongoing project deadlines while they train."
Prices for individual blended learning courses vary based on the class content, duration, and skills being taught; those currently available range from $625 to $1,395. Options for customized curricula are available; pricing depends on such factors as the number of students, amount of customization required, and time frame for delivery.
Short Courses and Workshops
In addition to hosting conferences, workshops, and short courses around the world, product lifecycle management (PLM) specialist CIMdata (www.cimdata.com) customizes education programs for individual companies. Its workshops can be tailored to address elementary or advanced topics. Courses cover everything from executive short courses to certificate programs. Training formats range from classroom-based to e-learning, and from live online tutorials to customized onsite or online courses. The three– or five–day PLM Certificate Program costs $2,550 or $3,750, respectively; the PLM Executive short course is $925. (Group discounts are available.)
Technical School Courses and Degree Programs
ITT Technical Institute's School of Drafting and Design (www.itt-tech.edu/drafting-design.cfm) offers Associate's degree programs that introduce fundamental skills used in CAD positions. Graduates are prepared to pursue entry-level positions in mechanical drafting and design, BIM, architectural drafting, parametric modeling, and civil drafting, design, and structural detailing. With more than 130 campuses and online programs, instruction can be delivered through traditional, accelerated, and distance methodologies, and students can prepare for industry certification exams while earning their degrees. Tuition rates range from $426 to $529 per credit hour, and a typical full-time student takes between 12 and 13.5 credit hours per quarter.
After graduation, these newly minted professionals can keep their technical skills sharp by auditing courses online, taking refresher courses, and obtaining online service assistance when faced with technical challenges.
Keep On Learning
Everyone — even the most experienced and talented users — needs frequent training to reach their full potential. Whether you're fortunate enough to have most of your needs met through trainings held in your workplace or you need to track down all your training on your own, the important thing is to find a method that works for you. Invest the time and effort to become a lifelong learner; your career will thank you!