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Thread: New CAD Manager Training

  1. #21
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    Default Re: New CAD Manager Training

    Ah wow, more than a year later, this thread's still alive! I really do appreciate everyone's input.

    Long story short, everyone in here was right; the CAD Manager transition never happened. You guys were right - you don't just jump into a role like that without knowing a thing about CAD. I've essentially grown from an IT analyst into a Systems Administrator role, with some influence/responsibilities in our CAD environment. Since the company's still small (about 45 employees), I do everything IT related - user support, network and server administration, hardware and software maintenance, Intranet web design and database development... basically a one-man IT shop. My biggest strength right now is that I'm a very good Jack of all trades, and that's proven to be very beneficial to the company. I do plan to specialize as a server administrator, and am probably going to start taking a few Windows Server 2008 AD & Exchange Server 2007 exams soon.

    All that being said, I'm still very involved in several issues that I would classify in a gray area between IT & CAD Management. Here's a few examples of what I'm talking about:

    -- Maintaining updates, relationships and contracts with all of our engineering software vendors. We are a multidiscipline firm with about 25 production staff, so this includes AutoDesk (CAD, Civil 3D, Revit Arch, Structure & MEP), Bentley (RAM Structural System, CONSPAN, WaterCAD, SewerCAD etc), Motive Systems (M-Color), and a few other smaller programs. It may sound simple, but ensuring that everyone in the office is running on the same updated version of a program, and even making sure we're in license compliance or not buying more seats than we need, can all be a nightmare at times.

    -- I am responsible for creating and customizing Autodesk product deployments. The heart of this task is basically configuring everything that appears in the -options menu. I typically get one of our CAD techs to help with some of the more specific options, but I do have it mostly down.

    -- We have all of our AutoDesk licenses on subscription. Historically, the company has upgraded to the latest version every 2 years in order to cut down on downtime & hardware costs (I don't necessarily agree with this, and they're aware of it). Anyways, I was put in charge of upgrading our production staff from 2008 to 2010 this year. One of the decisions I made was moving everyone from a 32-bit environment into XP 64-bit, especially since Civil 3D can now run on 64-bit machines. I also chose to move the company away from using Dell & Gateway for our hardware needs, and researched a few smaller vendors that build workstations designed for CAD (We went with @Xi Corp., who have been nothing short of phenomenal. Ask for Robert, tell him Sandeep at A2H referred you!). User response to these implementations have been VERY positive. Hindsight tells me that I probably should've gone with Vista 64-bit over XP 64-bit because the former apparently has superior memory management, but I didn't learn about that till after making the decision. Regardless, we've had no problems with our CAD workstations in XP 64-bit the few months we've had them for so far, so I'm not going to worry about it too much!

    -- When the company laid off a CAD technician who had been responsible for supporting our KIP 6000 plotter/scanner and HP Designjet color plotter, that task basically fell on me. I'd never worked with plotters before, so it was a huge pain, haha! Luckily, we do have a service contract with the guys that sold us the plotters, so whenever there is an issue with the plotters that falls outside my scope/experience, I just call them up and they send out a techie within the day to come fix them.

    -- Dealing with the KIP brought about another responsibility that I feel is probably as close as I've gotten to CAD management - dealing with PC3, PMP and PLT files. It took me a little while to understand the functions of these. Right now, we have custom PC3 files on a network location that all of our production staff access when creating plot files. From an administrative standpoint, keeping up with these files is HELL. I have had to maintain several PC3 files for AutoDesk 2008 & 2010 products, and for 32-bit and 64-bit machines, for each of our printers (the 2 plotters, a color printer, and a few black and whites). I've also discovered that a few users have begun plotting to PDF's instead and skipping the PLT file process. This seems like the way to go, because our end electronic product is a PDF anyways, and print quality on them versus PLT files is perfectly fine in our experience. So, I'm considering moving ALL of our production staff towards plotting to PDF's, because the process seems to work better, and I'd like everyone using the same methodology.

    So, you guys can see what I mean when referring to the gray area. I understand that a true CAD manager would also be in charge of things like drawing standards, templates, blocks, details, layers and all that kinda stuff. Issues like those will probably always be outside my scope because I'm not a CAD user - heck, I'm not even sure I fully understand what block and layers are! But I've definitely been involved with CAD management issues that somehow tie in to IT.

    Again, a big "Thank You" to everyone for posting in this very informative thread, and I would love to hear all of your feedback/comments/criticisms on my experience so far.

    TLDR Version: I'm not a CAD Manager, just an IT systems administrator. However, I'm willing to bet I know a LOT more about CAD software than the average IT techie!

  2. #22
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    Default Re: New CAD Manager Training

    Congrats Sandeep, it sounds as though you've found a niche and are fitting in nicely .

    If it's any consolation, I too am in a position very similar to yours. I basically do and support everything you mention (and more!), but for 200+/- users . Fortunately I am not alone...there are two of us here who share the title Engineering Application Specialist and split the responsibilities company-wide. We like to think of ourselves as CAD Administrators...a step above the responsibilities of typical CAD Managers...but in reality even that doesn't cover all the gray areas you mention without further explanation LOL. Nevertheless, I wish you well and good luck!

  3. #23
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    Default Re: New CAD Manager Training


    Sounds like you are doing well. If you can get along with the CAD techs, you will continue to do well. This can be an interesting business, even if you are on the outside looking in.

    I understand what you mean about dealing with PC3, PMP and PLT files. This is something that is a constant concern, problem, and annoyance for engineering firms. Every engineering firm that I have worked for has tryed to get a handle on plotting problems, and always encountered a bumpy road. Management of these files can be tricky. And, ultimately, CAD techs will need to make copies of standard plotter configuration files to modify for special projects or presentations. This starts to balloon, and you end up with many plotter configuration files that you may never use again.

    Circumventing .plt files was probably a good move. Instead of going to .pdf, try to see how you company feels about .dwf. They are very versitile, and very Autocad friendly. They also take up less disk space. It can be a tough sale because many non-engineering companies (i.e. your clients) have never heard of .dwf. However, many .dwf viewers, such as Autodesk's Design Review, can be downloaded for free off of Autodesk's website. Check it out.

    I hope you continue to do well in your position.

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