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Thread: Where do you see AutoCAD in the future of the educational process

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    BIM/VDC Management Brian Myers's Avatar
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    Question Where do you see AutoCAD in the future of the educational process

    Seeing we have a revival of this Forum, I'll post a question of my own:

    Where do you see AutoCAD in the future of the educational process? Will we be using vertical products and other non-AutoCAD based programs more in the future in our teaching process? If so, where do you believe that leaves base AutoCAD in the future of Education?
    Brian Myers
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    Default Re: Where do you see AutoCAD in the future of the educational process

    I think it depends on how the industry moves.
    The thing about BIM is that while it is getting widespread use, it's still not the standard. How does an office using BIM collaborate with one using plain vanilla autocad. As far as exchanging files for coordination. I know what I need to do when using autocad. But since I'm a newbie newbie bimmer, have very little idea. How does an office using bim deal with an MEP or vice versa that is on plain vanilla autocad?
    In the other thread an educator is using Revit as a design tool for his students. But I haven't heard back as to whether it is a tool in professional practise classes.
    Architecture is pretty spread out when it comes to the use of Autocad add ons etc. MEPs and civil have their add ons for each discipline. There is now revit for structure. What about civil & MEp?
    For the moment there is too much investment or legacy in autocad for many firms to diverge from it. So for now a continued appearance in college course schedules.
    Once that turning point where BIM becomes the status quo is reached, I think autocad may start to fall by the wayside.
    I'm probably wrong. Hard to look at that crystal ball. Maybe some windex would help.
    Most universities can't afford a multi program teaching environment. They'll be looking at the crystal ball and trying to guess too.

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    Member stefan.boeykens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where do you see AutoCAD in the future of the educational process

    I see AutoCAD partly as an 'interesting program' to know. No matter what practice someone ends up in, they will be confronted with AutoCAD.

    As an architect, focusing on design, I would rather use ArchiCAD and/or Revit. But having a decent basic understanding "classic" CAD, such as AutoCAD or Microstation, doesn't hurt and it helps with exchanging information around.

    I clearly see the future for architects as BIM and to that goal, I will add a BIM introduction in our CAD-courses. And to me, ADT is a BIM application but one that will slowly fade out, in favour of Revit.

    So to me, there is a place for AutoCAD in education, but maybe more as a basic general foundation of CAD, before you start doing more elaborate (and interesting) things using BIM.

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    Default Re: Where do you see AutoCAD in the future of the educational process

    I agree that as other programs progress that AutoCAD will fall back, I mean how many real pen & ink draftsman are around anymore? AuotCAD might follow that path and become "oldschool" although it may be sometime before that happens. As the CNC and CAM side of things continues to progress and become more comon place in the manufacturing industry we will see new ways of programming and most design packages are likley to contain there own version of machining software which isnt AutoCAD based (e.g. Pro Engineer and Pro Man). AutoCAD is still the core for most of the programs I have used for machine programming and will continue to be for sometime. There is the whole 2D vs 3D thing to consider as well I have noticed that alot of people who learned 3D applications in school greatly favor them and will stick by them not using 2D unless forced. The same goes for the 2D people alot dont make the jump to 3D unless they have to. A great deal of what the future holds will be what you guys are teaching in the classroom, but that is all driven by the direction of the industry.

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    Default Re: Where do you see AutoCAD in the future of the educational process

    You know, for a long time, at least the last ten years, AutoCAD was viewed within Architecture school by Architecture students as something you had to learn to get a job. It was never viewed as something anyone wanted to learn about. Heck, many schools left it up to you to learn AutoCAD, for they felt it more a trade skill than proper Architectural training. The schools are all over Maya and Rhino from what I've seen, and are slowly starting to get into BIM applications like Revit. AutoCAD's been the 'old school' thing you have to learn for ten years as far as I'm concerned. At most it's used as a conversion tool, to get into InDesign or Illustrator. So I don't see much change there, AutoCAD still looks like something that you have to know, but that no one cares too much about or for.

    The only real change I see is that Architects, once they learn a BIM system like Revit, and use it as their main production tool, they pretty quickly drop most attention towards AutoCAD. I remember, before I switched to Revit, I was pretty up to date with AutoCAD. But the last version I can say I 'really' know is 2002; 2004-2006 I've toyed with, but haven't cared to take any time to learn them, for the only time I even touch AutoCAD anymore is to clean up a DWG before I pull it into Revit. And most of the people I've taught Revit to I hear the same story.

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    BIM/VDC Management Brian Myers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where do you see AutoCAD in the future of the educational process

    Ok... so we agree BIM is the future.

    That leads to the next question: If YOU were creating an Architectural program how would you train your students? Would you use AutoCAD? ArchiCAD? Revit? Obviously financials are a big part of this equation so purchasing all the programs is not an option, but perhaps a couple programs would be. What would you do? At what point in the education process would you implement this/these programs?

    Would your strategy be different if this was a tech school?
    Brian Myers
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    Default Re: Where do you see AutoCAD in the future of the educational process

    Quote Originally Posted by bmyers
    Ok... so we agree BIM is the future.

    That leads to the next question: If YOU were creating an Architectural program how would you train your students? Would you use AutoCAD? ArchiCAD? Revit? Obviously financials are a big part of this equation so purchasing all the programs is not an option, but perhaps a couple programs would be. What would you do? At what point in the education process would you implement this/these programs?

    Would your strategy be different if this was a tech school?
    This discussion is getting better and better...

    The way we did it is not how I would do it now. I have following goals to strive for:

    1 - Put the focus on architecture

    I want to teach something that is future-oriented (such as BIM) and put the focus on architecture instead of software. This is where SketchUp and ArchiCAD or Revit fit the bill. And as an ArchiCAD user I must admit that Revit is taking the lead more and more now. When you work in a BIM application, you focus on solving the design and the architecture (geometry and layout) instead of solving the software. Although all of these applications are still rather technical in nature. Revit strikes a good balance here, but I have to say that I don't have full project-experience using Revit.
    We'll see what ArchiCAD 10 brings

    2 - Don't stick to one tool or platform

    I want to give some stimulation to the students to widen their vision. When I graduated, I just new AutoCAD and most of my student-colleagues at the time kept using it. I started investigating different possibilities and at that time I choose ArchiCAD. ADT was in r2 and looked reasonable but not that appealing. Revit was not available in Belgium at the time (I think it must have been sometimes before the actual first release of Revit).

    For that, we start in SketchUp: quick and the results can be used in many ways.

    Then I think I would still give some basic CAD primer, using AutoCAD (or Microstation maybe, but probably AutoCAD), with a focus on drafting, 2D and getting some designs on paper on the correct scale.

    But after that (and that is different then what we do today) I would fully start working with BIM software. I tend to go for Revit for our classrooms (the Revit Series, actually, so we still have AutoCAD) but make the overview rather generic, so you can follow along in ArchiCAD or even ADT.

    Finally Visualisation, for which I tend to focus on VIZ. We use ADT+VIZ Render now, but I hate the limitations in VIZ Render... And VIZ also allows full modelling, which is fine to make things that are not possible in the different CAD programs.
    I am thinking of adding Artlantis R to the mix, but mainly in the very beginning when we teach SketchUp, since it's fast, simple and still produces decent results. And it also works on a Mac... VIZ (and even VIZ Render) are complex beasts.
    And Maya and others? Well, I figure that when we teach them VIZ modelling, rendering and animation, they know the concepts, which could be translated over. Maybe not NURBS, but you still have Subdivision modelling and Path modelling and all the beauty of the modifier stack and don't forget the loft tool!

    And mixed between CAD and 3D I would still introduce some Photoshop, some Flash and a little bit of multimedia (mainly video, audio is my personal hobby but not that suitable in an architects curriculum).

    ---> Question: would it be possible to make CAD courses that only focus on desired output and give students freedom of choice for software and plaftorm?
    I think it's partly possible, if you avoid too specific tasks (such as AutoCAD solids or VBA/Lisp programming).

    3 - Exchange

    This is something lacking in most courses and pretty much a daily task in practice: getting data from one application to the other.
    In the context of some of our exercices, I try to give some hints on getting files back and forth between applications, but this is never a subject on itself.
    I think about explaining something about the differences between DWG, DXF, DWF, IFC but also other formats, such as how to get data exchanged with ArchiCAD, VectorWorks and then on to 3D (with 3ds, OBJ, VRML) and DTP (EPS, PDF, TIFF). And don't forget talking about getting an AutoCAD drawing up to scale in a Word document...

    4 - Costs

    There are two issues:
    - Can we get professional applications?
    - Can we get the student a cheap student license?

    For that I must say that the Autodesk academic pricing is fine for students (30€ + taxes for a two-year full license for most of their programs: AutoCAD, ADT, Revit, VIZ, Inventor).
    But the school pricing is strange: there are no upgrades possible (you just buy new versions) and the subscription pricing is more expensive then buying new versions. I tend to advice our school to buy a new version every two year and ignore subscriptions.
    I talk about 50 licenses for our two classrooms (+ the teaching staff).

    We got a free network license of ArchiCAD (still release 8.0 though...) from Graphisoft.
    The student version is 50€ (incl. taxes) which is valid during all studies. And (this is nice) it's a full version: including dongle and printed manuals and cross-platform.

    The SketchUp network license is about €12/license (1 year). It's €30/year for a student, but I applied for an instructor license, so the students taking our classes can get it for free! Very nice!

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    Default Re: Where do you see AutoCAD in the future of the educational process

    Quote Originally Posted by bmyers
    If YOU were creating an Architectural program how would you train your students?
    I'd do two things:

    1. Take them into the field onto job sites a lot, and make them also build real things, so they really learn how a building goes together.

    2. Take them to a lot of great buildings, and make them study and research great buildings, so they really understand what makes a building great.

    Software wouldn't even come into the picture, really. Other than teaching them how to teach themselves how to leverage technology in general. As much as I talk about Revit, I'm no zealot, I use a lot of different things to get the work done.

    My point here was just that AutoCAD, and heck any CAD system, at least in the Architectural education area, is definitely a secondary focus. Learning it is viewed commonly as learning MS Office: something you need to know to get a real job, but not something that isn't really than interesting. I can see Revit or ArchiCAD being a little more interesting to a student, for they do let you focus more on the actual design and building, but in the end I don't think the students or the teachers care very much about CAD. One of my clients I'm doing a lot of work for has a bunch of folks straight out of college or grad school. All of them talk about Maya or Rhino. None of them had even touched Revit, and viewed AutoCAD as 'boring'. So when someone asks 'what's the future of AutoCAD in Education' I was just pointing out that, at least in the Architectural world, it's being regulated to a 'trade skill' instead of being any kind of primary focus....

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    Certified AUGI Addict jaberwok's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where do you see AutoCAD in the future of the educational process

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey McGrew
    ..... So when someone asks 'what's the future of AutoCAD in Education' I was just pointing out that, at least in the Architectural world, it's being regulated to a 'trade skill' instead of being any kind of primary focus....
    Interesting point.
    What other "trade skills" does the average architect have?
    Brick-laying? Roofing? Plumbing? Electrical installation? Carpentry?
    I'd guess - not a lot.
    John B

    "You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep-seated need to believe." - Carl Sagan

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    BIM/VDC Management Brian Myers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where do you see AutoCAD in the future of the educational process

    Quote Originally Posted by johnbogie
    Interesting point.
    What other "trade skills" does the average architect have?
    Brick-laying? Roofing? Plumbing? Electrical installation? Carpentry?
    I'd guess - not a lot.
    Well that depends on the definition of "trade skills" and how they are used, but you are right.. it would be mostly sub-contractors and not Architects. It's a possible area where ADT might be able to take hold, in applications where basic BIM use (example: a supplier of flooring materials) is all that is required...

    Also, Jeffrey has on more than one occasion mentioned that grads have "viewed AutoCAD as boring" or "that no one enjoys using AutoCAD". Its important to remember that in its day (late 80's - mid 90's) many newbies LOVED AutoCAD. I did and so did many others I know. There simply wasn't anything better at the time. I believe AutoCAD is much like the Pencil and Paper... we've gotten used to it. The same will be said about the BIM programs in 15-20 years.... they will just be a tool.. a necessary evil used to do projects well and efficiently. Which (for education) leads to the question... how do you teach the new comers today? Is it with an emphasis on Design? An emphasis on how to use the tools to facilitate good design?

    My own thought is that we need to teach our students (regardless of the design program) not only how to be good designers, but how to be good project managers. They need to be fast on their feet, not only being able to use all the software available to them but to know when to use that software. The designers of the futures main job will need to be:

    1) Understanding the client's needs.
    2.) Understanding the construction process and the contractor's needs.
    3.) Understanding good design.
    4.) Most importantly - We need to be able to setup the design model which will contain all the project data and be prepared to communicate this information to the client. In other words, our designers will not just be designers, but will sell their services to control the project and provide more value to the client.

    I believe that teaching the future "designers" of the world doesn't mean teaching a specific software. It does involve teaching them about all the services a designer/project manager can provide with the software available today. It involves teaching good design and the process involved in building our structures.

    In short: (I believe) Teaching the Designers of the future will require less technical detail and artistic ability than it has in the past. It will require more understanding of the general overall picture of the project; understanding the needs of the client; a deep rooted understanding of good design (not the process to illustrate this design, but the ability to produce that dynamic good design in a structure). So the best designers will need to understand both good design and project management and require less "presentation" training and "CD" training as the virtual model will take care of this mostly on its own.

    Really in short: Designers will once again be an extension of the clients they represent instead of people that simply produce good, affordable design. They'll need more overall project management and design concept skills straight out of school than they currently possess. They'll be able to get this training as the focus on Presentation and CD preparation will be reduced in their schooling as the software will take care of this aspect of the project.
    Brian Myers
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